My grandson Eli loves anything with wheels. His momma takes him to Target so he can visit with the toys. He walks the aisles, touching and narrating. He gives Spiderman a hug. He growls like the Hulk. He operates every function of the robots. But his eyes dance when he sees a truck or car.
He’ll push that boxed treasure up-and-down the aisle making the appropriate sound effects. Then there’s the labeling of each part to confirm that it is indeed a truck. Wheels. Lights. Driving. (That’s the steering wheel.) Hat. (You guessed it, that’s the visor over the windshield.)
Eli’s favorite is the garbage truck and following in close second is the fire truck. At one time his favorite cartoon was Chuck, the adventures of young trucks and cars. Cat in the Hat, George, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and Super Why? have all gone the way of Chuck into his category of bor-ing.
He discovered the awe of the full-length cartoon, Cars. Disney’s masterful marketing invaded our home. Replicas of Lightning McQueen, Sally, Red, Mack, and of course Mater are now his most cherished possessions.
I’m the proud Gramma that brags about how he identifies all the alphabet letters and numbers, knows the names and text of his favorite books, and can phonetically sound out many letters. I marvel at how he reenacts Cars’ scenes with perfect dialogue and acting flair. He’s only two.
Needless to say, I too have the script memorized. Larry “Git-R-Done!” the Cable Guy delivers as Mater, “I’m happier than a tornado in a trailer park.” Eli doesn’t get all the jokes but I laugh. His eyes glaze over during the romantic parts. Again the genius of Disney, knowing moms and grammas have to watch, they make a cartoon about cars into a chick flick plus high-speed racing and crashes for the dads.
I wonder if blue Porsches’ sales increased as women hoped if they could drive in slow motion through the waterfall’s mist and seductively bat their eyes then a hunk in a Corvette would give up his dreams to stay with her. I also wonder how many dads started betting on NASCAR.
There’s even something for grandparents. Sally narrates the scene that takes us to the ‘good-o-days’ when the cars crossed the country in a whole different way. “The road didn’t cut through the land like that interstate. It moved with the land, it rose, it fell, it curved. Cars didn’t drive on it to make great time. They drove on it to have a great time.”
Then scenes of Radiator Springs in its heyday play while James Taylor sings, Our Town. Everyone yields. Everyone’s happy. No one speeds by. They had it good and enjoyed it while it lasted. I’m a sucker for the feel good song. I’ve heard my grandparents talk about how great life used to be. The world’s best backwards driver, tow truck Mater says it best, “Ain’t no need to watch where I’m goin’, just need to know where I’ve been.”
Maybe Disney provides a viable message for kids, “Slow down, enjoy childhood.” I’m certainly saying that to Eli. If I could make the sun stand still, it would be when Eli’s dancing his gig with uninhibited giggles, then cheers for himself, and proclaims, “I funny.”
Now, that’s the good-o-days.