Truck Stop Dolly and the Hamburger Kid
My father was a trucker by trade and going on hauls
with him as a kid, a thrill.
We moved along the freeways at great speed,
above all the rest
in my high seated nest.
Peering down at children subscribed to ride in plain old station wagons,
they would stare back, open-mouthed
at my luck to be up so high.
We would smile and wave
to one another as kids so openly do.
They would give the universal signal
for want of the trucker to blow his horn.
My father would acquiesce when he was in good humor.
I loved eating at truck stops.
They were almost identical,
one after the other
along the roads of America.
The waitresses were uniform too,
with only small variances in age
and degrees of tiredness.
They were different from my mother back at home.
They wore too much makeup, had raspy
voices from so many cigarettes,
and they all flirted and kidded with my father.
My mother only ever wore lipstick, didn’t smoke
and never flirted,
at least not with my father.
I ordered the same meal at every stop:
a hamburger, french fries and chocolate milk,
I was only allowed white milk at home.
In nearly every truck stop,
there would be a similar display of dolls:
They had curled, upswept hair,
tiny pink mouths,
and real eyelashes.
Their dresses made of ruffles, lace and flounce.
I didn’t even play with dolls.
I loved: bikes, books, horses, skiing, skating, swimming, basketball, baseball and ping pong.
All the toys that symbolized future motherhood
lay abandoned in a dank basement corner.
I was never able to explain
in a logical manner why
I wanted one of those dolls
so I never did get one.
Explaining need is unnecessary,
explaining want -- impossible.
Back then, my father called me the Hamburger Kid.
The nicest thing he ever did call me.