I was curious about this week’s Wicked Wednesday’s prompt of car keys, being in the automotive service department for 12 years. I dealt with car keys every day; lost, stolen, replacements, additions and trying to explain to customers why their expensive remote fob stopped working. “You mean there are batteries in this thing?”
From an erotic aspect, there is the backseat—everybody’s got a story or two about that—and the staple of urban legends, the key party for swingers. Interesting thing though, if you asked for the car keys before 1949, people would have handed you a door key. It was in that year when the Chrysler Corp became the first manufacturer to install an ignition switch/starter assembly. One of many details that can trip up a historical fiction writer.
“Grandpa! Grandpa!” came the eager chorus from a dozen young throats. “What are these?”
He leaned forward in his recliner and plucked the ring of keys from his grandchildren. “You mean all these keys that were stored away in a drawer to keep them safe from little snoops?”
“Sorry,” rang out from the boys and girls ranging in age from four to fourteen.
“Well,” he said, after laying the keys on his lap, “it is Christmas and I suppose I could tell you a story about these.”
The shrill shrieks finally attracted the attention of the parents—his children and in-laws—but he gave a benign wave as he lorded over the kids now sitting in a semi-circle around his fuzzy slippers.
“All these keys are from vehicles that Grandma and I used to own. Not all the vehicles though.”
“Because in the olden days, cars didn’t have keys to start, they had push buttons.”
“Just like today!”
“That’s right. Back when we had to dodge dinosaurs in the streets, we pushed buttons too.”
“Did you have screens to watch movies too?”
“Yep. It wasn’t called a screen though, it was a window you cranked open by hand and watched the scenery go by.”
“Sounds boring. Come on, let’s go back to the attic and find more stuff!”
After all the presents had been opened, dinner eaten, naps taken and all the hulking vehicles loaded with loot and sleepy grandchildren; he kissed and hugged his six children. Each one reiterated their offer to house him rather than continuing to live alone. He waved off their concerns and waved goodbye. He took the keys to bed. To his surprise, he didn’t feel the stabbing grief as he fondled each key in turn. Instead, he smiled with remembrance at how his wife had always insisted they make love in the backseat of each new vehicle as soon as possible. She also liked being spanked over the hood. ‘Just to make sure the engine keeps running’ was what she would say.
“Ah, Gisèle, such times we had. You’d have enjoyed this evening and insisted on dancing in front of the fireplace. I remember so well the first time I saw you at the USO dinner in liberated Paris. This song reminds me of you, of us, when we were young.”