One of my earliest memories I can still somewhat recall, is riding in a car with other kids. It was an scorching summer day in Rancho Cordova, a suburb of Sacramento, California, and our neighbor had suggested we all go to the 7-Eleven for Slurpees. I just recall all of us piled into the back of a stationwagon and noisily heading down the road. Those were the days when seatbelts and safety harnesses were only just introduced in new cars but parents then relied on solid steel frames and scorching vinyl to cement kids in.
More than a half-century later, grandfather and grandson are strapped into the back seat of an SUV. The small child is secured like an astronaut, facing rearward in his carseat, with snacks, water bottle, toys and his “Pop-pop” watching the world go by as we took charge of him for the afternoon. For a kid who began mimicking Alexa a year ago, “Okay, Goo-gle”, he now can count past ten, reads and understands many words, and finds great amusement in silly things. On the drive back from the park last week, my wife was listening to a text message that was read from her cellphone through the car radio. Five years ago, this was a novelty, but technology changes incredibly fast, and the quirks of the 2016 Kia can be annoying. Getting the application to close through voice command is one of those annoying quirks.
Except to our grandchild. Whether our annoyance or the radio talking back to us, there is nothing in this world more infectious than innocent laughter. Giggling , he repeated “GOOGLE, exit!” to which the radio computer-voice continued to misunderstand and demand clarification. We all started to chime in, “Google, EXIT!” and laughed even harder as the system finally gave in. I wonder what Zander will recall a half-century from now? Cars which once couldn’t drive themselves? Feeding ducks at the park? Wearing masks? Sharing chocolate chip cookies with Pop-pop? Or just vague memories of laughing all the time.