My dad was totally enamoured with the romanticism of ‘the road trip’. This applied only, I should note, to European road trips. The years I spent in Europe are dotted with dad's attempts to succeed at the holiest of grails: the holiday through France, where no one fights, I didn't punch my sister in the face, and everyone has fun.
During one of the first attempts that I can remember, I found myself particularly bored. I was seven or so, by sister was about three, and we were bickering. We’d been in the car for a good deal of time, and the freeway seemed to stretch on forever. My mum, I realise now, really hated car travel in Europe, and had thus been reduced to a stony silence. Dad was, of course, jovial.
I don’t recall the exact logistics of how I was so annoying, but I think it’s a safe bet that it revolved around the incessant and repeated questions: “Are we there yet?”. I’m not sure whether it was that exact phrase that caused my Dad to put his fist through the front windscreen of the car out of frustration, as we hurtled down the freeway, but if it wasn’t, it was something very similar. So there we were, hurtling down the freeway at 150kmh, with a huge crack, running diagonally across the front windscreen. There was a bit of a shocked silence, the only sound coming from a truck downshifting across the lane.
My Mum, who hated any kind of violence, was disgusted at everyone, and displayed this by refusing to admonish me or, for that matter, engage on any level with anyone. I'm pretty sure I shut the fuck up after that, but maybe I didn't. I can't remember.
That night, I broke a plate at the hotel restaurant, and I’m pretty sure I caused my dad to have a minor nervous break down. You could kind of see it, as my omlette splattered across the floor, dad's eyes go a little misty. I think any noting that this holiday was going to work on any level went out the window at about this point.
I should note that, on our very last family holiday, also in France, in 2005, (I think we had three 'proper' family holidays all up) we actually pulled it off. Maybe it was because us kids weren't shitheads anymore. Maybe dad mellowed out. Maybe there was some notion that there wouldn't be a replay.
But we fucking nailed it. I only threw one bottle of soft drink at my sister's head, and it didn't even explode against the wall like last time.