To make sure none of our siblings slid into our primo spot in from of the television when we needed to go to the bathroom or get a snack from the kitchen, we’d call “Coming back to my place.” As long as we called it before severing all bodily contact with our spot, nobody in their right mind would dare go near our seat in our absence. It simply wasn’t done.

When we wanted the best seat in the car – second only to the driver’s seat – we called shotgun. Even if you were opening the passenger side car door and had one foot on the floorboard, if the last person out of the house called “shotgun”, you moved to the backseat without complaint.

When we wanted first crack at something coming up, we called “dibs”, and it was honored, regardless.

It was a well-respected system that maintained order.

As we grew older, we developed more age-appropriate systems to ensure and maintain our rightful place.

Drivers, for example, controlled which 8-track or radio station we listened to, and, in the pre dual-system days, whether the fan for the car heater was kept on high, medium, or low. Cars had no air conditioning, so cool was determined by whether the windows were rolled up or down, and whoever sat closest to the window got to decide that. The worst place to sit – the seat with no power at all – was in the middle. You and to put one foot on each side of the hump, and somebody always complained about that and about you crossing the line into their space.

Being sick catapulted you straight to the top of the heap. Being sick trumped age, car seat, grade point average, or perfect attendance awards. When sick, people brought you whatever you wanted to eat; you got to sleep at will without anybody wagging a finger of dire warnings about not being able to sleep at night; you woke up when you felt like it. When sick, you got to sit and recline wherever you wanted to, and you didn’t even have to call coming back to reserve your place. Most important of all, you got to decide what everybody watched on television.

Today, Alison, having just been released from the hospital yesterday afternoon after surgery on Friday afternoon, chose to watch every Back to the Future movie in chronological order.

I’m ready for her to feel better.

Or at least turn on the documentary channel.

But I have even less say-so than the one sitting in the middle of the backseat.


Remembering When and Don’t Forget seem to be the prevailing themes of my 100 Stories in 100 Days. At least so far. If you’d like to read along, simply mash the black “right this way” button in the orange bar at the top of the screen and follow the directions.