Monday, September 26, 2011

Bench Seats and Other Signs of Love

I was driving just now, lost in my thoughts.  Actually, I was in a grumbly, “poor me”, what-a-lousy-day kind of mood.  It’s been a hard morning.  Sometimes I feel like the harder I try to coax skills out of the kids I treat the more they hide their talents from me.  One child after another challenged my patience.  At any rate, I wasn’t exactly perky.  Driving along in the right lane, I was passed by an old, green sedan that my brother would call a “land yacht.”  You know the kind…a foot or two longer than anything else on the road these days with a long nose and a longer trunk.  It was driven by a silver-haired man and seated smack dab in the middle of the front seat was his lovely, silver-haired wife.  Boy, what a flashback to my childhood when bench seats were the norm. 

Our '56 Nash was grey on the bottom and hot pink on the top.

 I remember our old hot pink and grey ’56 Nash.  A full-grown person could lie down in total comfort on those over-stuffed, luxurious bench seats.  They were just as plush and about as big as our living room sofa. 
I loved those old bench seats.  You could switch drivers just by scooting over, and before seatbelts and car seats they gave oodles of room for one or two kids sitting beside Mom and Dad.  Bench seats also used to provide the perfect barometer of how far a courtship had progressed.  A polite young man would let his girlfriend in on the passenger side of the car.  He’d then walk around and open the driver’s door only to find that she had scooted to the center of the car and was sitting there, demurely waiting for him to climb in beside her.  Both would wait breathlessly for thighs to touch.  Oh my!  What a thrill!  This was sign language for, “Let’s go steady.”
I smile when I remember the sight of that green sedan as it floated by (what was it about the suspension in those days?) and I honor this couple for their insistence in sitting beside one another.  They’ve maintained this commitment through the years, possibly refusing to drive a new model in this era of bucket seats and consoles.  I imagine them at the car lot, looking in the window if first one car and then another.  After a thorough search they both decide that the old car will do another year or two.  They simply can’t give up the right to cuddle as they drive.  How long has it been, anyway?  For fifty years or so they sat beside one another as they travelled down the road, ever since that first day when she scooted across to be near him.  They drove away from their wedding in an old sedan, the shy, young bride nestled by her handsome groom.  Later, three little heads popped up from the back seat to see their folks side by side, providing a barometer for their children.  Mama and Daddy are cuddling as they drive again.  All must be well with the world.  And always, the passenger seat is empty…well, except for her ever-present purse. 
And there they were today, thighs still touching as they navigate through their lives.  The back seat has long been empty as their children now have their own children.  But, still they proclaim to each other and to all those who are observant that they are a team. 
I wonder, what do I announce to the world when I am out with my dear husband?  What do those who are observant witness when they see my actions?  I remember sitting with a latte in Starbucks a few years ago.  I looked up from the book I was reading to see an older couple seated nearby at one of the tiny bistro tables.  No one spoke as they drank their coffees.  Every so often I glanced furtively in their direction.  They avoided eye contact for about twenty minutes and I remember being astounded at how bored they seemed being in each other’s company.  I wondered what had happened through the years?  Were they really that disinterested in each other, or was this just their routine? I do know that I vowed to myself that I would not end up like that.  
And now I think of how often Noel will seek me out when we are at a party just so that he can stand next to me.  And I remember that last weekend when we were at a slide show of Glacier National Park pictures he leaned over several times to kiss my cheek or touch my hair.  We often looked at each other in shared amazement at the incredible pictures on the screen.  And we giggled together as the lady behind me commented loudly and persistently on each image.  I like to think that we show our commitment to each other when we are home and when we are away.  Little signs of love proclaim to the world, but more importantly to each other that we are a team.  A small caress, a sidelong glance, a quick smile…these are more important to me than a dozen roses, a Valentine or an elegantly wrapped present. 
And even though I can’t snuggle up to him as we motor down the highway because of that darned console, I think he knows this...I would if I could. 


  1. Funny how as I was reading this post, my own dear husband looked up at me from the couch where he was snuggling with Christian. He waited until he caught my eye and then gave me a grin and a wink. All is well with the world for me today. Aubrey

  2. A lovely memory of so many many wonderful moments..i was so very blessed through the years.....Thank you,Shelly......Mandy