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What Happens in the Van Does Not Necessarily Stay in the Van · 5 June 2010

I should have told them before we all rode together, but unlike the saying about Vegas, what happens in the van does not necessarily stay in the van. (Especially, when the writer of a weekly human interest column/blog is one of the coaches in the front seat.)


The van trip was to the State Track and Field meet. There were five students and two coaches in the van. The same ones rode both ways. (It makes it easier to count heads and make sure everybody is there that way.) We had two girls and three boys. Actually, we really only had one boy for most of the way back as the other two teleported into the van just before we got home. More on that later.


I was amazed at what happened on the way down. It was like I was transported back in time to when I used to be the navigator on those long youth group trips way back when. One of the girls sang several verses of the “Diarrhea” song. While it was funny and gross, it was much funnier than it would have been had the kids all been middle schoolers rather than senior highers. After all, we would have expected it much more from the younger set.


The rest of the trip down was full of song and sleep. Or at least quiet. The two in the rear of the van were so quiet, it seemed like they were absent. I guess it was because neither of them like country music. So while the rest of us were singing or at least enjoying the music, the two in back had their headphones on tight listening to their own music. Our driver, affectionately called Uncle Dean, remarked that it was as if we only brought three people down with us rather than five.


The state meet was quite the event. We brought back two state placers in the javelin. Ashton brought back a medal for fourth place and accomplished her goal of making it to the podium her senior year. And Kenny brought back a third place medal after battling what seemed like gale-force winds.


On the way back from the meet, our charges were tired. Exhausted is probably more accurate. But the girls had too much energy and wanted to play car games. So after waking up Kenny (who claimed he was not really asleep) and explaining the rules to everybody, we played a name game and a movie game. The games were essentially the same in that we had to name a celebrity (or movie) and the next person would need to name a new celebrity (or movie) that started with the beginning letter of the last name (or word) of the just named celebrity (or movie). While the games themselves were quite fun, the interactions were even moreso.


Ashton started out each game. She played the “I placed in state so I get to choose” card several times that day so it was natural that she picked and started each game. Within no time at all, she also told us that she liked to help everybody. That was why, if somebody could not come up with an answer in a second or two, she would chime in with her celebrity (or movie). “Oh I know a good one,” was often how she helped everybody out instead of just blurting the answers. And sometimes it seemed like she wanted to help quite a lot quicker than a second or two. Especially, when it was my turn and I could not think of anything unless I had chosen something several turns ago and was just hoping for the right letter.


The other two kids in the van had their quirks too. Our other girl in the group (nameless because she was the one singing the diarrhea song), always wanted to make stuff up. Or at least she said she tried several times in the movie game. The funny thing was that she picked titles of movies that she did not realize were movies. I think that the three must have looked at each other and laughed thinking they had pulled a fast one on us older folks, but we knew that Oliver, for instance, was a real movie from even before our time. Our nameless girl was also the one who would hear a song on the radio and tell us to turn it up. This, of course, drowned out the next couple people until we turned it down so we could hear everybody’s answers the first time instead of having to repeat them.


Kenny was the Rodney Dangerfield of the group. He got no respect. First of all, he had not slept since the girls woke him up, and he also kept getting skipped. Uncle Dean kept thinking that he was asleep since he took more than the apparently allotted two seconds to answer. At least that was what he claimed a couple times. In reality, we all figured that he just chimed in when he had a great answer.


As we went around the name game, the interactions sounded something like this:


Aston: “I’ll start. Sara Jessica Parker.”

Nameless girl who sang the diarrhea song: “Paul McCartney.”

Uncle Dean: “Michael…”

Kenny: “Hey, you skipped me.”

Uncle Dean: “Oops sorry. I thought you were asleep. Go ahead.”

Kenny: “Michael Jordan.”

Uncle Dean: “Hey! That was who I was going to say.”

Ashton: “I have a great one, Uncle Dean. Jesse James.”

Uncle Dean: “Hey! I could have thought of one. James Mitchner.”

Me: “M. Hmm.”

Ashton: “I have a good one. Matt Damon.”

Me (shrugging): “Okay. Matt Damon.”


And around and around it would go. During the movie game, I am sure that our nameless girl tried to pull a fast one on us, but made up actual movie titles. We had a great time getting help from each other (you were supposed to be out if you missed or repeated a name) and making fun of each other’s game idiosyncrasies, like everybody helping everybody else by chiming in early. (Or maybe that was just Uncle Dean and Ashton.) Whatever the case, it was great fun.


Then something strange happened. We were almost home when out of thin air, we had two more weary travelers. Austin had chimed in to help somebody in the game. Uncle Dean said, “When did you get here Austin? And Nick too! Did you teleport back to the van?” Who knows why the teleporters decided to teleport to the van instead of straight home, but there we were again with everybody who had been in the van when we left town with just the previous day. Our journey was almost complete and even though we had gone through some heavy traffic, it seemed like we had just left the state meet.


I am glad that teleportation devices have not yet been invented (at least not that we know of), because I, for one, enjoy road trips. I like the music on the radio being sung by the people in the van. I like the laughter and playful banter. I like the games and giggles. I even like the diarrhea song when it is sung with gusto. Mostly, I like the people with whom I travel and the memories that we make. I hope that we have as much fun on the next trip I take. Even if I tell everybody beforehand that our story might end up on the internet for everybody to see. After all, what happens in the van does not necessarily stay in the van. At least not when I am on board.

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

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  1. Mike,
    Welcome to the joys and heartaches (the bus always comes back home) of track and field. The time you get with each of the kids is precious. I am very glad you decided to take on this challenge.

    — Marc · 12 June 2010, 20:36 ·

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