My dad's friend really knew how to drive in style; she had a blue Cadillac. On one occasion, in that huge back seat, we passed a city sign that said: Pop. 1532. I asked her what Pop. meant and she explained it to me. If I spent too much time in that car, I grew to feel quite nauseous. I don't recall ever barfing in it, however.
After several hours of driving that first day, we arrived at the hotel. The girl who was closest to my age, Melanie, had a conversation with me in the back of the Cadillac; my dad and the rest had headed to the office to check in. I was chewing on a large piece of gum. She mentioned that one of the reasons she was taking Spanish that fall was because she liked the idea of being able to swear at others in a different language.
At one moment, a huge piece of saliva (from the gum) came out of my mouth and fell onto her hand. I felt humiliated as she wiped the back of her hand on the underside of the car seat. We talked for another minute or two before heading into the hotel.
As day turned to night, my siblings and the two girls had great fun talking and watching TV. One of the movies that played as we visited was "Zapped" a cheese-tastic 80's flick which starred Scott Baio and Willie Aames. There'd be less time for fun the next day, but I was still looking forward to it.
We got up nice and early and headed to the center where the assembly for area Jehovah's Witnesses was taking place. We would be among hundreds of others who had the exact same views as us; one is not allowed to question the Witnesses' beliefs once baptized with them (even when the head honchos decide to change their minds about various issues; they call this "new light").
The real fun was had that evening as we looked for a place to eat. As we drew closer to the city's restaurant row, one of my favorite songs came on the radio: The Tubes' "She's A Beauty". To this day, listening to it takes me back to that summer evening.
We ended up eating at Showbiz Pizza, a choice I was ecstatic with as they had video games there. One of the newest games was Dragon's Lair. Instead of having typical video game graphics, it was animated like a cartoon. They also had MACH 3 which was a breakthrough game in that it used actual footage shot in a desert.
All this new technology made me happy that I was growing up when I was.
The next day, it was back to the assembly. Something interesting happened to me while there. I was sitting next to Melanie watching a drama; this is when Witnesses put on clothes from Biblical times and act out various things that occurred in the Bible.
At one point, I felt her foot on mine. I moved mine away, figuring she had accidentally moved hers there. A minute later, she again put her foot on mine. This time, I kept mine in place and quite enjoyed the sensation. I was now certain that she liked me (despite the saliva incident) and it felt great.
Later, we ate at Bobs' Big Boy where I had a juicy burger. Four of us kids had a booth to ourselves. As was typical in those days, there was a jukebox in which popular songs of the day could be played; Melanie played a popular country-pop song called "Snapshot".
As we headed home and I saw her resting on the other side of the car, my feelings were bittersweet. I was joyous that someone was taking an interest in me, but sad that we probably wouldn't be able to spend much time together in the months ahead; school would be starting soon.
As we drew closer to Winona, I saw a light coming from Sugar Loaf (it's the rock that's pictured on the cover of my book). I then remembered recently hearing that lights had been installed there; it was nice to see it all lit up. Melanie was woken up by our murmuring and though tired, also marveled at the sight. Though our trip was now over, I'd had a taste of love and looked forward to getting more of it in the future.