Slice of Life 14: Road Trip with Dad

(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!  Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers.)

It was the first time, the only time, and therefore, also the last time.  Drinking beer with my dad on a Saturday at 9:30 in the morning on the way home from college with a pickup bed loaded with possessions.


Drinking beer

Drinking warm beer

Drinking warm Olympia beer.

With my dad

As he drove down the highway

And did I forget to tell you?

I was under the drinking age in this state,


Drinking warm Olympia beer with my dad driving down the highway headed home at 9:30 on a Saturday morning in May.

What brought us to this point?

Spring semester of my collegiate senior year had just ended.  We had to move out of the dorm.  I had summer term left before graduation and marriage.  We had a week before we moved into the house we would occupy, clean and renovate over the summer.  Most of my “things” were going home for the summer in storage.

There were no cell phones back in those prehistoric days.  Our dorm rooms did have phones (I think), but they seldom rang because who could afford long-distance calls?

I had negotiated with my parents to leave the day after classes ended.  One last evening of fellowship (AKA:  party hearty) with friends before campus emptied for the summer.

I had been gone from home for two years.  Junior year, summer in between, and senior year. Belongings accumulated.  What books would I need for my teaching career?  What should I keep for our final summer adventure?

These were questions swirling slowly in my head.  Dad was to be at the dorm at 8 am.

He was there at 7:30.  I was marginally awake, barely moving  He had the only pickup with Iowa plates parked on the street outside the dorm.  The one pickup on the street.

The elevator was out of order.  I remember propping open the outside door so we would not be locked out.

We had to pack “stuff” down three flights of stairs and into the back of the pickup.  We were both puffing as we went down the stairs.  I wondered if I could talk Dad into a short break, a bit of breakfast or anything . . . just to slow the day down. Even with a two hour + ride home, we were still going to be there by noon.  What was the RUSH?

No mercy.  Down steps like pack mules.  Sometimes in tandem; sometimes separate. Always silent.

I didn’t even know if we were violating the “rules” for “MEN” on our dorm floor.  I was NOT going to be the one to tell him.  Silently packing stuff down the steps, out the doors and loading the pick up.

I felt like a thief stealing away into the night.  But no, it was broad daylight.  No one else was awake.  I left a quick note for my summer roommates.

“No more dorms,” I said as I walked out the door.

No one was in the dorm office.  I couldn’t turn in my key.  Back upstairs for another note and to leave my key.

Hope, faith and trust that my roommate would take care of the details.  I would be home before the office opened. Even on moving day. Especially on moving day!

The year will remain unlisted to protect the innocent.  “Hotel California” was one of the top hits of the year but I don’t think there was a radio in the pickup.  If there was, it was not turned on.

Sheer panic. 2+ hours home in a pickup, with my dad. What would we talk about?  Fortunately the pickup was noisy and I thought I might get some sleep.

WRONG, Kingosabbe!

I was shocked as my dad reached under the seat before putting the pickup in gear and pulled two Olympia beers out of a brown paper bag.  No cooler. A brown paper bag.  Warm beer. Driving down the streets of the college town, headed for the highway, underage drinking, and warm beer.

I wanted to tell Dad that it was skunk beer.  It had been cold, then warm . . . and now still warm.  But how to share that knowledge about beer when I was not of drinking age.   Hmmm. Silence.

As we traveled the miles, Dad began to talk.  The sun, warm beer, and hangover. I wanted to ask him to stop.  I didn’t feel well.  I wanted to hang my head out the window like a dog.

And Dad is talking to me about “the will”, guardianship (lovely siblings at home), insurance and my role.

Ahhhh, the “responsible one.”

The irony, he was talking responsibility, estate planning, while breaking the law.  Drinking and driving.  Underage drinking.

Who was this man?  What had he done with my father?
When have someone close to you acted totally out of character?  (Turning point!!!)
Did the situation come as a complete shock?  How did you respond?

16 responses

  1. Wonderful!! I am laughing out loud! What a great lead – starting with a poem. I’m going to have to try that.

    1. Thanks, Anna!

      I am so glad that you liked it! However, I am wondering if a turning point is supposed to be inside the story???
      Still trying to figure out this “narrative” stuff!

  2. Great post Fran. You are quite the storyteller. Love all the images. I could smell that morning after dorm, and feel the hanging like a dog out the window. It seems like he was showing you a side of himself he’s kept hidden. Awesome. I’m so glad you are slicing.

    1. Thanks for telling me which images stuck with you! That is so helpful! The timing of the “reveal” was so VERY bizarre! Slicing has been good for me – These posts take a lot of TIME!

  3. I loved the dorm removal – that’s exactly my experience back in the day. But I loved your telling of your predicament on the way home. Priceless.

    1. Oh, Tara. Priceless and predicament – you are so helping my vocabulary! Thanks for your comments!

  4. This is so funny. I was car sick with you there 🙂

    1. Thanks!
      It is VERY funny now! (and especially since my son is past the age of 20!) At the time, it was very scary!

  5. Allison Jackson | Reply

    Oh, Fran, even if you weren’t hungover you’d have been scratching your head. Too bad you didn’t know back then about Contrasts & Contradictions!
    Am loving these “slice” posts of yours!

    1. Thanks, Allison.

      These posts have been fun to write! And you are right. I would never have been ready for this!

  6. OMG…your post has me laughing and smiling and wondering. I love the contradictions your paint with words and images – warm bee – underage drinking – perhaps hangovers – dorms – coming home – the future…sigh…such memories

    1. Thanks, Anita!
      This was fun to write, “such memories” is right! It was one of the strangest predicaments of my life. Dad was so serious and I was so, not coherent!!!

  7. What a great story! Soo funny!

  8. […] posts about Dad here (my favorite) and here. And on the learning side, What is Memory? […]

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