99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall…




The following is from a conversation between father and son heard a few years ago at the end of the first travel night of a two-day car trip. Son is seated in the back of our vehicle, holding a laptop computer, with headphones attached to his ears:

Slamdunk (Dad): Hey son we made it—got to the hotel before sundown. You traveled well. I haven’t heard a peep from you in the last 4 hours.

Bambino (the six year old son): (Long pause… Removes headphones) You say something dad?

Slamdunk: Yes, I said we are finally here.

Bambino: (Still watching DVD on computer screen) Cool. Umm, Where?

Slamdunk: Williamsburg. You remember; where the historic area looks like a colonial village.

Bambino: (Takes a half-hearted look out the rear window) All right. Can I just watch the end of this episode? This is the twelfth Sponge Bob Square Pants that I have watched in a row—and it is the karate one with Sandy the Squirrel. (Puts back on headphones and does not wait for a response from Dad).

Slamdunk: Unbelievable…
I could have driven another four hours and the little guy would have been just peachy.

I think I was just shocked at how easy it is for kids to travel now. They have computers, DVDs, handheld games, and we can even hook his TV video games up in the back of the van now for mobile use. It is like never leaving the house for the techie youngsters.

I think my “unbelievable” comment was in consideration of my childhood trips.

Thinking back, I can sum my travel experiences in two words: sheer boredom. A three-hour car ride was the equivalent of a full day in school—at least in my opinion. I bet that most trips featured fights between my brother and me no less than twenty minutes out of the driveway. The license plate game, I spy, and other creative pass-the- timers were only very temporary distractions for us lousy travelers.

“He crossed over into my space” or “he punched/kicked/elbowed/spit at me” were commonly heard phrases from the backseat. Mom would threaten. If that did not work, Dad would become involved and that usually meant discomfort for us, but trouble would soon start again.

Beyond the sibling grappling and the fingernails-to-a-chalkboard phrase “are we there yet” heard regularly from one of us, another thing that really annoyed my Dad the driver was the abundance of Stuckey’s food stops on our usual route to Arkansas.

Do you remember Stuckey’s—-home of the pecan log rolls and pecan sandies?

Owners of this food and gift store were one of the first entrepreneurs to figure out that people like familiarity. Travelers familiar with a restaurant or gift shop were more likely to stop as opposed to a place that they had never been before like Joe’s Diner or something. As a result, there were Stuckeys at seemingly every exit off the Interstate going through Oklahoma and Arkansas.

When passing one of these familiar yellow signs and billboards with the red font, a scream of delight could be heard from the backseat: “Mom, there is a Stuckey’s can we stop?” Often, my parents seeking the few minutes of respite that a stop would provide, would concede to the children’s demands and stop for a few minutes at the Stuckey’s.

If we were really fortunate, we could also talk them into a snow globe,

Wooly Willy:



or some of those invisible ink trivia books:




In reality, those were good times for us kids, but I am sure dad would have given just about anything to have a modern mobile DVD player or at least the 99 bottles of beer on the wall available for immediate consumption.

2 comments:

Christopher said...

I have to give a group presentation on generations here at the facility, and my topic is the emerging generation... and you're right... completely multi-tasking- wireless- bombarded by media generation. I think we are going to be surprised by how quickly they devour information and how quickly they will expect results. It's going to be a challenge to keep up.

Wayne said...

Wooly Willy was awesome!