I was reading a review of the new CHiPs DVD in The Times the other day and came across this observation, “In nearly every episode of the first season of ‘CHiPs’ a Volkswagen Beetle the color of a blood orange putters somewhere in the background, riding down the highway or parked at an illicit auto chop shop.” Suddenly, I had this flashback to fifth grade in San Diego. All during that year I kept seeing the same “flower power” VW bus (similar model to the right), whether it was driving by when I came out of school, or going the other way on the highway, or parked nearby when I went out to dinner with my mom. I just couldn’t shake it.
Growing up as pretty much the only Jewish kid I knew in SoCal, and never having watched any Woody Allen movies, I still had a finally developed sense of paranoia: I was sure that bus was following me! Maybe it was residual guilt I felt from my minor shoplifting career at Safeway (comic book digests, the ocassional Hotwheels car or toy motorcycle, and candy), but I definitely thought the brightly colored hippie bus was after me. It didn’t help that I never saw the driver, or that my friends or my mom didn’t take my fears seriously. But I was never really scared of the bus. I mean, what could someone driving a car as goofy as that do to a little kid? I think I just liked the idea that someone out there thought I was important enough to keep me under surveilance. And when I moved to San Francisco the next year, I never saw that bus again.
But what was the deal with that red VW Bug from CHiPs?