Tuesday, June 14, 2011

SS 396

It was only that one night. I don’t remember who else was in the car. I didn’t know the boy who drove but I must have known one of the other boys. I’ve replayed that night so many times that it has taken on a significance far greater than it merits. I was dreaming about it yet again this morning just before I woke.

It was summer, late summer 1968 and the car was a fire engine red Chevy Malibu SS 396. The car rumbled, a low growling vibrating rumble that you felt throughout your body. There was nothing subtle about the car. It was a muscle car, made for acceleration, to impress, intimidate and dominate. I was sixteen.

We drove to the A&W root beer drive-in. The parking lot was where everything happened, the cruise we had come participate in, down and through the rows of parked cars, snaking slowly, rumbling, rumbling, growling at the other cars, watching and being watched.

But we were out of our comfort zone, at least I was. The other teenagers there that night were older, a year or two at that age makes a world of difference. We were riding in the ultimate sex machine but I wouldn’t have known what to do had one of the girls I ogled through the glass actually returned my stare.

It was only that one night. I never rode in that fire engine red Chevy Malibu SS 396 again, not in the flesh at least. But I’ve taken that ride a thousand times in memory, in dreams, in the late, late night just before waking.