Our Replacement Home

My Real Memoir

Mommandad were in love. With each other, yes, but also with a city: San Diego. Dad worked seven-days-a-week as a newspaper man, but finished early on Sundays. So that was our day to visit San Diego. Not every Sunday, but most, it seemed. “Diego” translates to “the replacer.” And that’s exactly what Mommandad wanted to do, replace our current home with San Diego.

Not me. I wanted to stay right where we were. With my friends. Because San Diego was booorrrrring! I mean, yes, it had a perfect climate, beautiful Balboa Park with its world-class zoo, and luxurious marinas (if you had a yacht). But mostly, “Honey, we’re going to San Diego!” meant…

“We’re going to tour model homes.” Argggh! Walking on plastic carpet-protectors while looking at rental-furniture-filled rooms and being pitched at by an overly-cologned tract housing company rep was exactly how I pictured purgatory.

So Mommandad let me bring a buddy. When one was available. Jeff’s family was usually busy. But Rory was Cinderella, overworked and underloved–only a boy version with an evil stepfather. So he was thrilled to get away when they let him.

The two of us found things to do while Mommandad house-shopped. But interestingly, what I remember best was the trip there and back. Why? Because of…

The Staring Game!

It worked like this. During the nearly two-hour drive on the I-5 Fwy, Rory and I would wait until a solo driver pulled into the lane behind us. And then we’d stare at them. That was it. Just stare. As though we were scientists observing a lab animal.

Most of our lab animals would nervously change lanes after a while. Some would grin and give us an “I see what you’re doing” look. A few would flip us off. But our favorite was a balding middle-aged guy in a suit, obviously a travelling salesman. He grinned, and then took up the challenge to stare back. He hung in there longer than anyone else ever had.

But we were warriors earning our place in Valhalla. 

After about half an hour, he began to crack. Lit a cigarette and never smoked it. Threw it out the window. Then lit another, and forgot about it until it burned his lip. Then cursed at us as if it we’d made it happen: “&$@~+^#%$*ing kids!” At some point, he finally gave a little “you win” nod to the victors, and pulled out of the lane. All in all, he was a pretty good egg. I hope he sold a few extra vacuum cleaners that  week.

We never did move to San Diego.

But that’s a story for another time.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Our Replacement Home

  1. Pingback: The Darkness Within Us | Mitch Teemley

  2. Webb Blogs says:

    We use to play the “slug bug” game while sitting in the backseat. 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The Family Truckster!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wynne Leon says:

    I love that you remembered that adult who remembered how to play like a kid!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Abe Austin says:

    We would make our fingers into guns and shoot at the drivers all around us. Sometimes they finger-shot us back. My mom was so embarrassed when she found out.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My mother had a station wagon just like the one in the picture above. We kids just loved riding in the back of that thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Homer that I am, allow me to give some attaboys to the San Diego you missed, where we have lived for 27 years. That’s far more than all those other cities I had called home until mid-middle age, including the home of the Flyers there in Ohio.

    On the other hand, 27 years ago the Chargers finally made the Super Bowl for once in their long SoCal history and Cincy was there yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Really enjoyed your Mommandad story…conjured up a few old Mommandad memories of my own.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Dana says:

    Ah, back in the day when you could ride in the back of the station wagon and not a seat belt in sight!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When my wife and her sister were kids they used to make a similar trip from the San Fernando Valley to San Clemente every weekend. Eventually her parents bought a home there and for decades after my father-in-law commuted from San Clemente to his roofing business in North Hollywood. I have to say I really like your staring game. Wish my sister and I had thought to do that on our long annual trips from California to Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ejstoo says:

    Nothing worse than someone who insists on wearing strong cologne … worked with one. Literally, the smell coming was traumatic and sometimes made me queasy. Nice guy. But the cologne lost huge points with me. Not sure anyone ever told them. It was hugely overpowering. These were the days before allergen free workplaces 😉 Cute story.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Mary says:

    Love how the story flows from one paragraph to the next. Enjoyed reading 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I remember the station wagon, the log drives, and the antics. We were going skiing which I hated as the worst skier in the family.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. jimspoor says:

    I thought at first you had. moved into the station wagon! Loved all those trips we had staring backwards.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. A well told, totally relatable chapter from your memoirs, Mitch. Consider yourself fortunate to have remained within your boyhood home / hood. Unlike your story, tho, my own house hunting on Sundays momanddad (of that same era) did transplant me to a new neighborhood. Even tho this was still within my hometown, I did drift away from friends; especially after their own momanddads moved them out of town and out of my life. These days, leisurely, fond reverie filled walks, back to my old stomping ground, are all I have left.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Yeah, I think moves, sometimes quite a few, are more the norm than staying put. We moved when I was 7, but stayed in the second house till I graduated from high school, so I more-or-less came of age there. My wife and I moved our kids at middle school age and again during high school, and they didn’t exactly love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. cindy knoke says:

    I was born and raised in La Jolla. I sat happily in the back seat of a station wagon just like yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Great story, Mitch! This one had me laughing out loud.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Great details – the station wagon was the best for drive-in movies!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. 00individual says:

    Great post!
    Experienced the same weekend journeys to the Valley when Dad’s job at MGM studios was going to move there. MGM decided not to move from Culver City, thankfully.
    Model homes! Plastic carpet runners!
    Payoff was lunch at Bob’s Big Boy, otherwise, bo-ring.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It’s really interesting to imagine how I would have reacted had I ended up behind your car. I hope I would have waved and left you to it. I also wonder if you tried to predict people’s reactions and if so, how often those predictions were accurate.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: Our Replacement Home – Nelsapy

  22. murisopsis says:

    My mother was the entertainment director – we played “I Spy”, the Name Game, had to sing 3 part harmony, and collected license plates trying to see all 50 states! Usually we ended up hot, cranky, and hungry. After my mother and father quit smoking they would apologize for subjecting us to the second-hand smoke (I was already out of college by then)!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. gpavants says:


    I remember the vehicle and remember that game. Not fun getting stared at.

    Thanks, Gary

    Liked by 1 person

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