I had decided to take a temporary break from college in my early 20s (in the mid-1990s), and ended up moving back in with my parents for a year. What had begun after the end of spring semester 1995 as my usual summer routine of moving back home and working at the local country club turned into my decision to take the next year off from school to reassess my planned life course. My younger brother was still in high school at that time, so it felt a little like old times.
My parents seemed okay with this, but they didn’t make things particularly easy for me. They still fed me and all of those great things that are important for sustenance, but once I had announced that I wouldn’t be returning to the university that fall, I was moved from my bedroom (which doubled as Dad’s office) to the screened-in porch (the “lanai”) directly adjacent to my parents’ bedroom. I was also asked to pay rent. They were going to accept no shenanigans from me, even if I had proven myself to be a mostly shenanigan-free young adult up to that point.
Regardless of all of that, my mom and I would sometimes run joint-errands together if we needed to go to the same store (i.e. Walmart, Target, etc.). Mom, at one point, had all of a sudden decided that when I was driving (their silver 1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera), she would sit in the back seat. I was then (as now) a very attentive, capable, good driver. Also, my mom had grown up on a farm in northwestern Ohio, so there is absolutely no fanciness ingrained in her, whatsoever. When I perplexedly asked her why she had started sitting back there, I seem to recall her saying something to the effect that she just “liked it back there…” Nope.
I put the kibosh on this budding behavior very quickly by reminding her that she was not “Miss Daisy”, and that I was her son. She complied by returning to the front passenger’s seat from that point on. I honestly don’t know why she was doing that – whether she had wanted to feel chauffeured, or if the Florida sun had simply been too bright for her, as she has very fair, light-sensitive skin. Some might have called “b.s.” on the latter, but for the sake of diplomacy, let’s give my mom the benefit of the doubt. (Witness just another baffling moment for me of Growing Up Dennis, but I have learned to embrace my own idiosyncrasies and laugh at them.)
I will say that this experience, and others, have been why, to this day, I still feel awkward when riding in the back seat of a ride-share vehicle (i.e. Uber, Lyft, etc.). I think I’m a reasonably classy, intelligent guy, but I’m also neither fancy nor extravagant. I’m originally from Flint-freaking-Michigan. There is little, if any, pretense in me. With that said, I often feel like such a jerk when sitting in the back seat of some nice vehicle, while making chit-chat with some driver like it’s beneath me to sit next to them. “Pardon me, Driver… Would you happen to have any Grey Poupon?”
I suppose the general, unspoken “back seat” rule is as much for a driver’s protection as for a passenger’s, but my question is this: Is a driver any safer from a potential attacker if said assailant is behind them versus next to them? I honestly can’t think of any tactical advantage to having your passenger behind you, unless your (personal) vehicle has one of those old, taxi-style Plexiglas shields dividing the passenger compartment, which would almost never be the case. I’ll qualify all of this by stating that I’m fully aware that the ride-share experience and protocol are intended to mirror that of a taxicab, in which the back seat is just where passengers go. This doesn’t stop my curious nature from asking these questions.
Most of us know that this final generation of Eldorado (which ran from 1992 through 2002) was not offered from the factory in convertible form. I think it should have been, as I think the Eldo looks great like this. And while I generally do like the coupe’s sloping roofline and triangular C-pillars, I realize that they’re not to everybody’s liking. Being shorn of its roof rids the twelfth-gen Eldorado of any difference of opinion on the matter. I’m guessing as to the model year, as this particular example sports the mild facelift that appeared for 1995.
As I snapped a couple of frames of our featured car while walking from the office to my evening rush hour CTA Red Line train, I wondered what was going on in this scene I was witnessing. The gentleman in the back seat looked a little young to be a superfan of any Eldorado, though I realize that some youths (or those with youthful spirits) like or love these cars, which I very much respect. I thought it possible that maybe the passenger owned a fleet of cars (Joe, ya shoulda stayed the course in college besides merely graduating) of which this fine Cadillac was just one.
The driver certainly picked a beautiful theater venue to parade past, the CIBC (née The Majestic) Theater, where the musical stage production “Hamilton” is still playing. I think that “class” is a state of mind. I wear nice, vintage clothes all the time. This gentleman was rocking his vintage, coach custom Eldorado convertible with style, even “accessorized” with a chauffeur. This setup may be too rich for my blood, but there’s no denying that the car, driver, and passenger all made a high-class statement on this particular afternoon.
Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois.
Thursday, August 8, 2019.