Skin in the Game

Okay so it occurred to me that perhaps I should explain the context of the photo that highlights this blog. The photo was taken in Myrtle Beach in 1970 and yes that’s me on the right in that awesomely cool suit. I’d wear that today!

I’m obviously enjoying myself in this photo but the family car trip to the beach is what’s really etched in my mind. Whoever coined the phrase “it’s the journey, not the destination” did not travel from Indiana to the South Carolina coast in the back seat of a Pontiac with four brothers.

It’s a scientific fact that the skin of a sibling’s leg or arm touching your own creates an extreme burning sensation that runs deep into the epidermis and causes great conflict in confined spaces.

skin“Stop touching me with your skin!”

“YOU’RE the one doing it. You stop touching ME with YOUR skin!”

Appeals to the front seat authorities were of no help. They just switched on the radio.

Eventually someone, and it was most likely me since it was a really smart observation, noticed that the seat cushion was sewn in sections.

“Hey look, we can use these marks for boundaries!”

Brother 1, the smart-ass mathematician said, “This won’t work, it doesn’t divide evenly.”

“Well,” said a brother in the middle, “you two on the ends should have less space because you can lean against the door.”

“That’s not fair,” said left-window boy. “You know how the broken ashtrays pinch!”

armrest-ashtrayHe was right, those spring loaded armrest ashtrays could be killer.

“Yeah!” said right-window boy. “Besides we’re in danger because it’s easier to fall asleep leaning against the door.”

Okay that was a good point too. Falling asleep with your nose, mouth and ear openings so close to siblings was a big risk.

However, those of us in the middle pointed out that they could more easily twist their bodies to face the window as a form of escape. The middles had nowhere to turn. Sibling skin to the left and sibling skin to the right.

We finally came to agreement about our respective property claims and all was well – for about 3 minutes. Back seat boundaries don’t hold for long with 5 fidgety kids excited about going to the ocean. Border disputes were rampant and led to verbal, and sometimes physical, alterations with an occasional plea to the front seat authorities who responded by turning the radio volume up.

The only breaks we had were when we stopped at the rest stops and enjoyed my dad’s favorite travel meal: the bologna sandwich. Circular processed meat products nestled between melt-in-your-mouth bleached wheat flour high-carb goodness is something I still crave today.

Although the back seat boundary idea wasn’t perfect, it did lessen the dreaded sibling skin-burn. However my older and wiser self, the self that has developed excellent problem solving skills, realizes that there was a simpler more effective way I could have earned my very own space. This method would also very likely create a nice buffer zone, assuring absolutely that I would be in no danger of sibling skin contact.

All I had to do was pee on the seat.

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