Miss American Pie This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

June 18, 2011
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Don McLean was playing on the radio that night, but it's Dad's voice that I'll always remember. I can still taste that early July air and feel the adrenaline pulsing through my veins as the minivan swerved around the block. We couldn't have been going anywhere noteworthy because, in all honesty, I don't remember anything outside of that one song – five minutes of “American Pie.” He's a horrible singer, my dad, and it wasn't any different that night. He doesn't know this, and he probably never will, but I'd take his version over Don McLean's any day.

It may have been my imagination, but I could feel the car pulsating as if the bass were out of balance. I was bobbing up and down on my mother's lap as she rattled on about the meaning behind the song, something about the turbulent '50s. It's not important, I wanted to tell her. Just sing with Dad. I don't know if she felt it – how perfect that moment was. I was only seven, but I felt it. Helter skelter in a summer swelter, the birds flew off with a fallout shelter.

And then the car came to a stop at a traffic light as our laughter threatened to drown out the radio. A couple of cars were lined up behind us and the light was due to change any second. There was that fleeting pause right before the chorus, and then the driver's door flew open and my father's face was outside my window as he heaved open the passenger door, not missing a beat. Before I knew what was happening, every person in the van was running a quick lap around the car, crashing into one another and shrieking with laughter. All the while, our voices filled the placid summer air. Bye, bye, Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry.

I've been on countless car rides since then. There was a limousine ride through the city with my closest friends, belting out pop songs against the New York City skyline. There were dusty rides in the back of pickup trucks in Nicaragua, and aimless drives around town in the shotgun seat of my best friend's car as we reveled in the glory of road test victories. There will be many others, but I doubt any of them will survive in my memory as clearly as that night that I caught my father's eye in the rearview mirror.

A decade has passed since then, but the other night, while cramming for a final exam, I heard him mutter, “and I knew if I had my chance, that I could make those people dance,” as he leafed through the newspaper. I looked up and, for the first time in a while, I was that seven-year-old girl who, at least for a moment, was capable of forgetting everything but her father's off-pitch singing. I furrowed my brow and smiled quizzically at my father, wondering if he was remembering that car ride too. The corner of his mouth turned up ever so slightly and I hummed one note just softly enough to hear him finish. And maybe they'd be happy for a while.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Gothica295 said...
May 9, 2012 at 10:08 am

Really enjoyed this article! Reminds me of me and my dad. With us, quality time is driving down the road singing along to 'American Pie'. Heh...

Really enjoyed this!

Black_Ink said...
Jul. 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm
Awh, this was really cute! The only issue I had with it was at the beginning when you said, "...the car swerved..." I was under the impression that this was about a car crash! The rest of the story sounds relaxed and peaceful, so when you suddenly said swerved, I was expecting the car crash because it killed the euphony you had going on. Otherwise, it was great! I love how you were writing the generic card to your dad when you thought of this lol
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