Sunday, June 25, 2017

Reclining on the hood of a Ford/Chevy/Dodge/American-made Automobile, looking at the stars or the clouds or into your lover's eyes sounds like something from a Springsteen song that evokes in you a deep sense of nostalgia for something you have never actually done

I was trying to be clever, but, Oh wow, American-made hood-sittin' actually is in a Springsteen song – and a Canonical Springsteen Song at that.

Just a few lines into the coded opus "Jungleland" (ranked number 13 on Rolling Stone's list of greatest Springsteen songs) Bruce growls:

Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge
Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain . . . 


hot guy reclining on the hood of a truck: typical fictional summertime behavior

Certain imagery evokes in me a deep sense of nostalgia for activities in which I've never actually participated, but which seem quintessential to the American teen experience. Much of that imagery exists in Bruce Springsteen or Bob Seger songs, songs about idealized teenage behavior from the 1960s and early 70s – roughly 35 years before I sprouted my first pit hair.

When I hear those first few harmonica notes on 'Born to Run,' I can immediately conjure a glorious memory of myself at 17, sitting on the hood of my '97 Accord, staring up at the stars with a six-pack of Banquet beer in one hand and my girl's waist in the other.

Yeah, but that never happened.

I tried sitting on the hood of my car once. I pulled into my driveway a little before my 11:30 pm curfew on a warm, clear early-autumn night in 2004. I stood next to the driver's side door looking up at the stars and decided to heighten the emo romanticism by hopping on the hood.

It was hot – I had just shut off the engine like 30 seconds before climbing aboard – and my butt started to sweat. There were bugs biting my ankles and arms. I heard the kchunk kchunk of the hood denting every time I shifted my weight and I feared putting too much pressure on the windshield. After about a minute, unpleasantness and boredom surpassed any lingering Americana-infused sensitivity and I went inside, never to mount a hood again.

😨  🚘

I've spent a while looking for some fitting photos of idealistic teenagers atop hoods of American-made automobiles to convey my point here, but the majority of Google Image search results feature somewhat sexy white women lounging on F150s like they're in Viagra ads targeted at Nebraskan tractor-pullers. Just now, my wife glanced the photos and said it seems like I'm about to start watching porn.

This carsex phenomenon has deep roots. Seriously, the mass production of cars seems to have immediately ushered in the mass production of car-straddling pin-ups:

But let's get back to this week's SOT premise: We're all supposed to pretend it's normal to drive over to some secluded cliff or field that the local police have undoubtedly identified as a popular spot for necking and reefer-smoking to gaze at Orion's Belt and Ursa Major from the scalding hoods of our second-hand vehicles? No way. You've never done it either.

finally found what I was looking for. this photo is even more romanticized because it includes a surfboard

Pros: Star in your very own Springsteen song.

Or a Seger, a Mellencamp, a Petty, maybe even The War On Drugs.

Definitely a prominent trope in the fill-in-the-blank artist, country song template.

Warm your bum on a chilly night.

American exceptionalism.

Cons: Come on – the hood of a car is not a comfortable place to fall in love.

You might damage your car.

You risk locking your keys in the car

Or having your car stolen as you gaze up at the stars or into your lover's eyes, entranced by the power of the moment, unaware of the car thief bout to fling you into the dirt soon as he turns the key and propels the car in reverse.

Your cellphone was in the car, dumbass.

Stability - 3/5 The crumple zone can be delicate and then there goes your resale value. 

Cool Factor - 5/5 If you're Mellencamp enough to pull this move off. 1/5 if we're talking actual temperature of the thin metal hood, which encases a scalding hot V6.

Difficulty - 3/5 Can you shake the bugs off your legs without denting your car?

Perilousness - 2/5  Every teen hood-sat in the late-50s, but the hoods were way longer, flatter and sturdier back then

Added bonus - 3/5  Countless songs bout this lil' cliche 

Overall rating - At the very best, a 16/25 for a reliable Americana trope.

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