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Davis, California

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Column: Backseat, windows up

Welcome back, ladies and gents! I hope you had a happy Hanukkah, a merry Christmas, and rung in the New Year with a glass of champagne. Here’s to 2010!

I’m from Los Angeles. It’s a place where people would rather sit in traffic for 20 minutes to go three blocks for their coffee fix than walk for their daily exercise. Don’t get me wrong. When I’m at home, I do this, too. And I know you native Angelinos do the same. Don’t deny it.

For those of you who call Los Angeles your permanent place of residence, you know how important your car is. It becomes your home away from home. It sometimes becomes a second bedroom. Don’t worry, I’ll explain.

When a boy or girl goes from the age of 15 to glorious 16, the only thing on their mind is a car. Yes, they will use it to get from point A to point B. But it will serve as the source of many memories, from first kisses to first … you know.

One night has stuck in my mind since I was of driving age. My friend really wanted to meet up with this guy she had a crush on in high school. A few of us drove with her to a parking lot behind an In-N-Out. We knew what was up. The guy was there and was accompanied by a few of his friends. My friend and the guy got out of their respective cars and then one thing led to another. About 45 minutes later, a boy and a girl emerged as red as the Audi they were in.

We’ve all been in the back seat of someone’s car. It could have been your own while it was parked overlooking some valley during a beautiful sunset. It could have been your friend’s while driving home from the beach. Or – I’m sure this has happened to some – it could have been your mom’s after picking you up from the movies. No matter the backseat, it served you well. Right?

I’ve been in a back seat or two. It’s kind of exhilarating. One time I had the honor of being in the front seat, while the car was in motion. Top that, people.

It’s hard being 16 and not having the freedom of owning a house where the bedroom can be your oyster. Instead, you had to leave your door open and live with the fact one of your parents would cruise by your room every 15 minutes.

So you used your noggin and went for a joy ride (this can be interpreted on more than one level). Sometimes, though, it didn’t have a happy ending. My friend and her boyfriend at the time were interrupted – unclothed – by police officers. They were asked to leave because they were in a no-parking zone. Luckily, their IDs weren’t checked … who knows what could have happened to those youngsters.

Let’s bring this story local. One of my male friends who graduated a few years ago told me cars are good for improvising. He dated a sorority girl. When you live in a sorority house, it’s highly likely you’ll be sharing a room. So to his Honda Accord they went. The backseat of an Accord is a bit small, but you can get pretty creative with positions.

Doing it in a car can be challenging, but it comes with a rush. It’s a risky endeavor that can make things more exciting. With the windows up, the backseat can get pretty steamy. The cops can come without notice. A family on a night stroll could give you dirty looks. Or even worse, your neighbors could catch you, which could make getting the mail the next day an unpleasant situation.

You’ve been there in the backseat of a car and live to share the story. It’s okay. Don’t be ashamed. Where else were we supposed to get our freak on when our parents had eyes on all sides of their heads?

Being home these past few weeks made me think about how easy life was back in the day. There was a lot less pressure and a lot more backseats.

ERICA BETNUN is glad she doesn’t have to use the backseat anymore, but is looking for Davis hot spots for a future column. She can be reached at elbetnun@ucdavis.edu.

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