I rode to work today overwhelmed by fear of death because my seat belt, which has worked perfectly up til yesterday, refuses to budge from it's plastic sheath, meaning my chest was naked and vulnerable to blows from oncoming cars, tons of bricks, what have you. The worst part was I kept trying to reach around and get it out, temporarily forgetting the dire situation. I've spent my 27 years wearing a seat belt. This is where my parents, especially my mother, really got to me. You will always wear a seat belt in the car or else. I never questioned the seat belt wearing, even in adolescent years when it seemed cool not to do it. I'd always wait, then look around furtively, making sure friends and older sisters of friends were bobbing their heads sufficiently to whatever rock song was popular then deftly and silently pull and buckle and if I was noticed, look at the thing like "how'd that get there?" I am a seat belt dork. I can't not wear it and now I'm being forced not to. In between imaging the various ways I'd die this morning I started thinking about the power of childhood lessons and memories. I don't really remember my mother telling me to put the seat belt on OR ELSE because I must have heard it so much it's just ingrained, like how the music of Roger Miller immediately puts me in the mood for a road trip, or how the taste of white grape juice makes me feel careless as a three-year-old child. Why white grape juice? That's what I drank instead of the regular, purple kind. As my mother tells it, she got new white rugs in my room when I was just a baby. Apparently one day I stood in my crib, a sinister look upon my face, and threw the bottle of regular-colored grape juice on the new white rug. She says I did it intentionally. From then on, it was white. Why grape juice at all, all the time? I was constipated.