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“The Swear Mobile”

Grampa had a work truck. I’m pretty sure it was a 1970 something Chevy but I could be remembering wrong and honestly the make, model and year for that matter are really inconsequential anyhow. The point was that the truck was white and maroon, with a deep maroon interior that stunk of cigarettes and oil and leather and soot and it was only used on “special” occasions.

Sometimes we’d run to the dump, he’d get rid of scrap metal or whatever it is one dumps at the dump and other times we’d take the little truck to Three Sons Diner where I’d get the most delicous english muffin, sliced perfectly, heavy on the butter, and exquisitely toasted on the open grill… I would scarf them down without the jelly on the counter because you didn’t even need jelly on those english muffins. Grampa always got coffee, eggs, toast, grits and bacon because Nana gave him grief about bacon at home.

Not only was going in the truck special because Grampa usually drove his big Buick, but it was extra special because the little truck only sat two. So when you went with Grampa, you were THE ONLY one with Grampa which was something I loved, especially being one of ten grandkids. On my very first trip I remember buckling in and peering out over the thick maroon plastic dash. I had never been that high up in a car.

We pulled out of my uncle’s long driveway, me waving to my mom disappearing in the rearview mirror. Down the road a little my Grampa had to stop quick when some “damn asshole” pulled out in front of us. I was jerked quickly against the seat belt but that didn’t matter, little me didn’t skip a beat, “GRAMPA!” I stammered.

”What?1” he asked laughing… he knew.

”You said BAD words,” I said incredulously.

Grampa’s eyes twinkled. “Oh…” he said seriously and then he caught my eye and winked, “I forgot to tell you,” and I was waiting for him to say something like, “don’t tell Nana or don’t you repeat what I said” or something like that but he didn’t…

”You can swear in THIS truck,” he assured me.

”Really?” I asked, flabbergasted by the thought.

”Oh yeah, it’s a rule. You can swear all you want in this truck, you just can’t tell anyone or swear when you’re OUT of the truck…”

”Can I swear in this truck too?” I had to be really sure.

”Oh yeah, you can swear too. It’s the rule. But our secret and only in the truck.” He told me.

”Well then you’re right, that guy was a DAMN ASSHOLE,” I said emphatically, grinning ear to ear.

Grampa laughed hard. We both did.

We had breakfast at Three Sons Diner. I told Don, the only adult I knew that I was allowed to call by their first name who was also the restaurant’s owner and my grampa’s friend that it was my first time in the truck. I pointed out the window at the beat up Chevy in the parking lot, I was beaming. “Just you and Grampa today, huh?“ he asked. I nodded smiling. “You two get into any trouble yet?”

I shot my grandfather a nervous glance… did Don know about the swearing in the truck rule? Did he know I swore? No way. I looked back at Don, “no trouble,” I managed and he laughed and winked then went back to grilling another customer’s order of those amazing english muffins on his grill. I was relieved to get off the hook so easily.

I never did tell anybody about the swear truck and Grampa’s rule… it was our little secret. I never even told my cousins… and especially not my parents… What if mom and dad wouldn’t let me ride in the truck with Grampa anymore? That would have been… well, as we would have said in his truck, “really shitty”.

Now I’m all grown up with kids of my own and in this house we don’t have “bad words”… we have ”grown up words,” and though I’m stopping short at declaring the family mini van the “swear mobile,” maybe by the time I have grandkids of my own, I’ll have softened to the idea of a “bitchin’ kitchen” or some shit like that. We’ll see.

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