Back in 1967, for mysterious reasons of his own, my father decided it would be a good idea to take my sister and me to Expo '67, which--for you whippersnappers--was a world's fair--a place filled with a lot of exhibits purporting to represent foreign countries, which people used to like to go to because Epcot hadn't been invented yet. Expo 67 took place in Montreal. My sister and I thought going was a great idea, primarily because we were getting out of school for a couple of days. And also because we would be going to a foreign country. (Where they speak French! Thus commencing my lifelong habit of speaking bad French to innocent bystanders.)
A foreign country, I might add, that is all of 300 miles from Boston. A trip that nowadays would take five hours to drive. And back then probably took even less, because everyone was still driving 70 mph all the time, because the energy crisis hadn't been invented yet.
However, with my father at the wheel, this trip took more like 13 hours. This is because for my father, it was imperative that all trips be business trips. You had to call on at least one client so you could write off your expenses or whatever business people do; how the hell would I know? I'm a housewife.
Anyway, Daddy would go in and yack with these customers, and my sister and I would stay in the car and bicker and not get abducted or sexually assaulted because those hadn't been invented yet, either.
So what with the driving and the stops, it had been a long day. And then my father realized he needed to buy gas. He started looking for a gas station. And kept passing stations because they were the wrong ones; he wanted a Sunoco station. So we're driving and driving and passing Shells and Texacos and Essos (Exxon hadn't been invented yet) and he wouldn't stop. And then, finally, we spotted a Sunoco station. And we were almost there ... when we ran out of gas. And then coasted into the station ... and glided right up to the pump.
That story drove my mother nuts. Nuts! My parents were divorced seven years later, and I can't be sure that there wasn't a connection.
So tonight I havethe minivan packed with all kinds of weekend stuff: the kids and the suitcases and laptops and skates and Nintendo and backpacks and even a cello, for lord's sake, and I hit all kinds of traffic. And it's taking forever ... and then when I was finally making the left-hand turn off Broadway onto Hollywood--you know where I'm going with this, don't you? Except I'm not going anywhere because for the first time in my life, I ran out of gas.
And OK, I didn't coast up to the pump. But I ran out of gas literally right where you turn into the Shell station that just happens to be located on the corner of Broadway and Hollywood. And two guys came up and helped push the van to the pump.
I'll tell you this, Internet, but let's keep it between you and me. I'm not telling my mother. She'll write me out of her will.