Do You Remember When We Used To Sing?
This week we're presenting a non-fiction essay from GrubStreet instructor KL Pereira.
“You’re like two peas of a pod,” Mamacita would say, shaking her blonde hair at us from the other side of cab, the light coming through the windshield haloing her head, while we growled out Crazy Train or Ironman. She preferred Olivia Newton John.
Daddy, who loved Ozzy, was famous for his lazy Bob Dylan hum, which he employed not when Dylan was rasping on the radio, but whenever he didn’t know the words.
“Did Daddy always sing?” I asked Mama, shooing my foot over her thigh and into her lap.
“When he picked me up for our first date, we had to sit in the driveway so he could sing to me.” Mama told me, cupping my toes in her palm. “’Don’t I sound just like Roy Orbison?’ he’d ask. He was so cute, ‘Oh, yeah,’ I’d say, ‘Oh, yeah, exactly like him.’”
After the divorce, and after the records and the broken player got stored under my bed to save it from the trash heap, Daddy and I still sang when we were in the pickup, on our rides to nowhere. The only place we can afford to go, he’d say. He still drove the small brown-red Toyota with a white cap on the back—no cassette deck, just a radio, shitty speakers, and us.
Every Tuesday and Thursday night after work my father met me in the parking lot in front of the chain-link fence. I’d look down from the small windows that sat nearly on the floor of our attic apartment and wait until I could see the faded blue thigh of his dungarees slouched easy on the seat of the pickup and rush down the flights of stairs to join him.
For hours we drove back ways, what Daddy called sneak-attack ways, switching between classic rock and metal and oldies. The roads were long, empty of other cars (I was lookout for cops), and often thirsty. Daddy would stop at the packie and while we were in line waiting to pay, he’d let me pick out a Ring-Pop or Laffy-Taffy or Nerds and the sweet sour sugar rush would stain my lips and I’d stick out my tongue in the mirror to see the rainbow of colors stained there as I mouthed the words I didn’t know.
And the best song, the one I was allowed to blast and belt out, waving my arms out the window like they did at concerts on MTV, was the Van Morrison song, the one that Daddy would sing, not just with me but to me, like he once sang to Mamacita but didn’t anymore, and though I’ve loved a lot in my life, I don’t think I’ve felt as loved as I did when he’d sha la la the chorus and his dimple would deepen and he’d nudge my leg with the back of his hand in between drumming out the beat on the dashboard and cry: “You my brown-eyed girl.”
KL Pereira's chapbook, Impossible Wolves was published by Deathless Press is 2013. Her fiction, poetry, and nonfiction are forthcoming or appear in The Drum Literary Magazine, Shimmer Zine, Lightning Cake, The Golden Key, Innsmouth Free Press, Innsmouth Magazine, Mythic Delirium, Jabberwocky, The Medulla Review, Bitch Magazine and other publications. Pereira’s work on fairy tales, sexuality, Wonder Woman, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are featured on Studio 360 and other radio programs, cited in numerous publications, and assigned in courses all over the United States and Canada. Find Pereira online on klpereira.com and @kl_pereira.See other articles by KL Pereira