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Marolt: Of traveling teams and minivan hearses

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

I suppose it was inevitable that members of Generation X would be sent to their eternal resting places with bouquets of baseball bats and lacrosse sticks and wreaths of braided soccer pennies. Would it surprise anyone if we are buried in a plot many miles from our former homes on a weekend by a traveling team of the region’s best morticians and mourners?

I saw it in Grand Junction on my way to an American Legion baseball game. While it looked familiar in a familiar haunting way, it was oh-so-different that it begged for a second look. It was all white with no windows and chrome bars with curls at each end mounted up high near the back. It was a hearse without a doubt. Instead of a Cadillac hood ornament and bulbous station wagon back, though, this vehicle had sliding side doors and the Honda ‘H’ on the grill. It was a minivan, not a limo. I’m sure it was fuel-efficient, too.

This sight I took in on the first leg of a long weekend of youth sporting event travel that began in Snowmass, took me to Grand Junction, then Boulder the next day, and Rangely after that — 950 miles in all by the time Sunday rolled around. What I learned is that there is no good time for soccer moms to have surgery on their right feet along with orders not to drive for eight weeks while it heals. Who would have guessed that her injury would be such a pain in my sciatic nerve?

The stay-at-home mom is a legend. Anyone who believes they still exist needs to tranquilize a modern-day mother long enough to strap a tracking device around her neck and plot her progress on a map and see how quickly state borderlines and uncountable jerkwater towns are obscured by all different colors of pushpins.

Whatever happened to the team bus? When I was a kid there was always a team bus and parents normally only attended away games if their kids missed it. They would sit in the stands alone among the home team fans, pouting and vowing to themselves, “never again.”

For kids the team bus was confined freedom. It was a place to cuss, tell dirty jokes and shoot spit balls through long A&W straws. It’s surprising how much you can learn about life from kids who have experienced none of what they are talking about, but who can figure it out in a group project that works more efficiently in the back rows of a school bus than any contrived in the classroom.

I suppose the team bus concept died in budgeting processes of recreation departments and was approved by helicopter parents everywhere. If you are going to attend every practice, micromanage the hiring and firing of coaches, and make sure the kids are not filling themselves up on typical road trip junk food, you almost have to go to every away game. Besides, if you’re not there, you can’t make a highlight reel of your kids’ performances, and if you don’t do it nobody else will, and if nobody makes it that’s almost like proof that nobody cares, which would be a tough reality to confront.

But, if cost was the paramount reasons for getting rid of the team buses, I think we made a mistake. Yes, when parents drive the recreation department saves money. But, the combined cost to all the parents is much higher than that of running a bus. I’m sure that highly evolved historians from other galaxies will one day rather easily observe that we actually destroyed the planet one extracurricular event at a time.

I know it’s more complicated than that. After the fatigue has been assuaged by a good night’s sleep and the feeling has returned to all my appendages, I know that the conversations over the background noise of XM Radio and the time hanging out with the kids in some of the funkiest places I would never otherwise have visited in my life is time that I wouldn’t trade for anything other than being able to magically make time stand still on command. They are memories more deeply etched in the mind than a thousand sunsets from a beach.

Thank God for the team bus in my day and for getting rid of it for my kids. May we someday find a happy medium and yet another use for the minivan.

Roger Marolt can give you directions to an incredible Mexican food place in Rangely. Contact him at roger@maroltllp.com.


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