Yes, I have rode in a limousine. Twice in fact. It wasn’t for prom; it was for getting the most magazine sales! Well, in my grade at least. I got second overall in the whole school, but Douglas Phelps took first every year. He was three years older and lived in a new housing development with richer neighbors who subscribed to magazines like Golf and Gardener’s Monthly.In my neighborhood it took forever for people to even get to their doors because they were so old. Western Pennsylvania has more old people than anywhere else in the country except Florida. One of the ladies was embarrassed to tell me that she wanted to help me, but she couldn’t read. Most of the people were nice, but they already had a subscription, couldn’t keep up with the reading, or had failing eyesight. But Douglas probably won out of sheer determination. He had something to prove, I’m not sure to who. His sister Laura was in my grade. She had a Teddy Ruxpin and, later, a baby out of wedlock.
We sold the magazines to raise money for our school. It was a small Christian school in the next town over. My parents would take me around the neighborhood, waiting for me in the car as I climbed the steps to the houses. In western Pennsylvania, everything is up a hill. At one of the houses an older man was so delighted to have a cute little girl come to see him that he listened very attentively to my memorized spiel.
Then he asked me, “Oh! What school do you go to?” I told him. He grew grave. As he closed the door he said, “I’m not Christian; I’m Catholic.” In the car, I asked my dad what that meant, and he just muttered and shook his head. One time my dad told me about the time he visited St. Hildegard’s (the main Catholic church in town) and saw a list posted in the lobby of members’ names and the amount of their tithe next to it. He pivoted away from the sanctuary and never went back.
Anyway, the limousine took the top sellers from every grade to Pizza Hut! We piled in and explored all the features and compartments. The best was the button that operated the tinted window between us and the driver. We loved putting it down and thinking of something to ask him, then putting it up real fast and laughing that he couldn’t see us anymore.
If I were Douglas Phelps I probably would have put my foot in the old people’s doors and offered to read the magazines aloud to them, or water their plants, or clean their dentures…just to close the sale. But I wanted to play in the woods, somewhere far, far away from the smell of cabbage soup, the only thing they eat.