SURPRISE!!!

It was early summer 1971.  School was out.  Time for my annual flight from Orlando to New York, uh, I mean New Jersey.  I rode the plane up North like a nice person (as usual).  Disembarked at the brand new terminal at Newark Airport.  Ran into my Dad’s arms.  We got into the car.  Everything normal.

“How was your flight?” Dad asked as he tried to merge into the right lane, some angry driver honking furiously.  I looked to my right to see a cobra-faced man spewing venom in the car next to me.  Reflexively, I turned my gaze away, out the front.  A flock of New Jersey state birds let loose and took to the skies.

“Great,” I lied.  Seventh grade had been a tough year at Trinity Prep School, my new school that year.  What exactly had been “great” was that it was summer vacation and it was over.  On the last day of class, everybody had tossed their books to Hoe Brown, the class beast, who manually tore up each one into several strips of paper.

“How are things with you?” I asked.

Dad grinned.

He ignored my question and said, “I have something to tell you.” He looked at me for a moment.  We had survived the merge okay and were headed northbound on the New Jersey Turnpike, toward the glistening swamps and after that Weehawken.