Penny sat in the front passenger seat, looking our the front window. Charlie Brown sat in the rear seat, looking out the back window. At that precise moment they were not barking to one another and even refusing to look at each other. The parson, basing his decision on over forty years of pastoral counseling which indicated one cannot be a counselor to one's immediate family, refused to get involved. Instead his index finger tapped on the steering wheel, keeping beat with the eclectic music radiating from the car radio of WUTC, NPR at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
It was approximately halfway home the parson noticed the vehicle ahead of them. It was a 1957 Ford Fairlane, with those distinctive rear fins. The parson's memory was immediately drawn back to another time, a time when such cars, of obvious unique design, were sought after as chariots of romance. Ah, the advantage such vehicles had. There were no divided seats with a gear shift or cup container blocking the closeness of two amorous persons enjoying adolescent discovery. The parson's dad had referred to such cars, occupied by such seekers of affection, as vehicles possessing two heaters.
As the parson stared at the distinctive taillights of the Ford, he noticed a silhouette through the rear window. It seemed to be a mirage, a faint hint of a time long gone by. But there it was. There was no denying it. There were two people occupying the vehicle, and the silhouette seemed to indicate that both were sitting behind the steering wheel.
The parson remembered a time when males of his generation drove such chariots of discovery, such avenues of passage. He stared at the shadowed figures who apparently had discovered the thrill of a bygone era. It felt good that such benefits had been passed on to another generation.
The highway widened. There were now two lanes. The parson, smiling, pulled out into the left hand lane. He touched the accelerator to move ahead of these two discoverers of latent passion. And then he saw the couple more clearly. The woman was indeed sitting almost squarely behind the steering wheel with the man. The man's right arm was around her shoulders, keeping her snuggled close. They both grinned in contented happiness. They seemed completely at home in their moving time machine. The parson estimated the driver was seventy-five and his second heater seventy-two.