The Family Secret

Reprinted from the June 6, 2014 edition of The Platte County Landmark

1989_MustangGT__Richie_Pic2Every family has a secret. For some it could be a stress in a marriage. For others, it could be potential financial windfalls or maybe they are secretly broke. One thing is certain, though…every family has a secret. Eventually, they all see the light of day, though. I’m about to tell you ours.
The year was 1993. A first-term Bill Clinton was busy rolling cigars and staining dresses. The Kansas City Royals were only eight short years removed from their last World Series appearance.

A young and handsome Chris Kamler had just enrolled at the University of Missouri – Kansas City after, um, releasing myself from the University of Missouri in Columbia. Beer might have been a contributing factor.

My parents, Edward and Donna, were reveling in the graduation from high school of their third child and that left only one more to go. It was a perfect time for a completely ludicrous decision like buying a hot rod car.

Now, my parents had a wonderfully good run of automobiles through my childhood. There was the Ford LTD – one of the largest four door sedans ever made. There was the white Cadillac – again, one of the largest cars in the history of cars. It might have actually come with an outboard motor. The cake topper in this list was the Cutlass Cruiser station wagon made by the Oldsmobile corporation. The Cutlass was so vast, so large, that every child had their own zip code inside AND you could put the newborn on the floorboard of the passenger seat in an age before BIG SEATBELT forced you to stop putting babies on the floorboards of cars.

My parents drove gigantic, American-made boats with wheels. So, naturally, their major purchase to celebrate the third of four children to graduate high school was a 1993 Ford Mustang convertible. It was a glorious machine. An amalgam of leather and power and speed and, dare I say, sex on wheels. It was a damn fine car. My wonderful sister Catherine, whom I love dearly, gave it a test drive. I also got to give it a test drive. It certainly was a step up from what I had been used to driving. I was happy with my 1981 GMC Sierra Pickup Truck with the stepside. It had replaced my F-150 Ford Truck with a three on the tree and enough rust that the rust had rust.

Water actually splashed my face when driving in the rain because of water coming up off of the front wheel into a hole in the floorboard directly up my nose – but I couldn’t help seeing me behind the wheel of that powerful machine cruising up and down North Oak turning all the ladies heads.
My sister and I were both going to UMKC at the time, both commuting from home because we are horrible children and hadn’t actually left home.

Now. Listen closely. Here is where the family secret comes in.

As mid-life crisis go, my mom and dad’s one was pretty mild. They bought a fast car. But of COURSE that was a short lived decision and that beautiful car would trickle down to the child they secretly loved the most. Me. That car would be MINE.

And that’s when my sister stepped in. I don’t remember what kind of car she drove, but it suddenly started having “problems.” “Oh, that’s okay, honey. Just drive the Mustang.”

I never had a chance. That car was stolen out from underneath me. It was rightfully mine and she STOLE it. She drove that car for years. She knows what she did. Just like the pending Ross Perot Presidency, it was plucked from me and I never had a chance.

NOW you know my family’s secret. Anybody want to come visit for Thanksgiving?

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