It’s not the fickle finger – it’s ‘The Claw’ and that one leg

Categorized as 07/18/11 Goshen News column

Odd, how The Claw turned the fellows in the rear into Olympic-caliber gymnasts.  Suddenly, they’d grow elastic extremities, doing the splits or pinning their feet up behind their ears in a desperate attempt to get away.  “Save yourself!” they’d shout at each other as the back seat exploded in a flurry of windmilling legs.  Odd, too, how the owner of The Claw seemed to enjoy the uproar.  He denies it, but I know for a fact that he’d stir it up on purpose every now and then.  I’m all for peace and quiet and letting placid boys lie, so to speak, but not him.  And there we’d go, toodling down the highway, little car just a-rockin’.  Mr. Schrock and his siblings were little gymnasts in their own right, only their “gym” wasn’t the back seat of a 1987 Corolla.  It was the back two seats of a station wagon.  A Corolla would’ve never worked, see, not with five kids.  And with the five being very close in age, there was even more malfeasance taking place behind the driver than what occurred in the Corolla.  That’s why it took a wagon.  From what I hear in whispered stories, that wagon was a place of prayer.  When those kids heard, “Now it’s time!” thundered from the front seat, that was the signal.  To a man, they’d suck in their tummies, perform three variations of the pretzel, and pray to become one with the vinyl.  As one of them said later, laughing, “We never had the nerve to ask what time it was, either.” Knowing the five as I do now, I know good and well that the owner of the original claw had plenty of reason to thunder and swipe.  And those kids should’ve been in prayer, that’s all I’m sayin’.  No, it wasn’t the fickle finger of fate that triggered the back seat calisthenics.  And it wasn’t the finger that finally prompted the purchase of a larger vehicle (i.e., a minivan), either.  That was the left leg of leverage.  By the time Boy Three came along, things were getting real tight.  Two was company, but three and a car seat was a crowd.  Cheek by jowl, they were packed in like little tuna fish without the oil.  Carefully, the two oldest would climb in, buckling up meticulously.  We’d close one door, sighing with relief.  Then came the tricky part.  Father would carefully install the car seat in the middle.  We’d shout, “Suck it in, kids!”  On cue, they’d take a deep breath and hold it.  Like lightning, Mr. Schrock would lift that left leg, slamming the door shut with a definitive thump.  Rear end sagging, but with doors secure, we’d pull out.  We are now on our second minivan, and it’s even bigger than the first.  There’s a lot to love about it.  It’s roomy interior, for instance, and its cavernous trunk.  It’s 49 holders, say, that put an end to soda pinched between thighs, spilling over laps when the light turns red.  While the extra room’s been nice for the kids, it’s been bad for the crime rate.  It’s not so easy now, fingering the guy who’s doing the pounding.  I guess that puts us back to using two old standbys:  “Now it’s time!” followed by the legs (right and left) of leverage heading back there to sort things out.  Those kids had better be prayed up.  Amen. 

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