If you see my child wearing a bright red T-shirt that is much too big for him, just know this: He does have clothes that fit him.
This shirt, however, is one of those guy things, the T-shirt that brings him right back to exactly the place he was when he got it.
It was last year, a hot August Saturday afternoon. We drove up U.S. Route 322 to the top of the hill overlooking Philipsburg. I would say “the parking lot at the Moshannon Valley Super Bowl,” but that would be inaccurate because the cars and the crowds overflowed the bowling alley’s lot, leaving people parked at the district justice’s office, the Department of Environmental Protection, even down toward Hogs Galore’s restaurant and butcher shop.
For a then-5-year-old boy, it was like a life-sized box of Hot Wheels. Cherry red sports cars, acid green vintage vehicles, banana yellow and black coupes that made him catch his breath and whisper excitedly, “Is that Bumblebee?”
It would not have been incredibly shocking to have one of the cars start to fold and buckle and turn into a Transformer right in front of him, not in this company.
It was the second annual UMI Performance Cruise-In. More than 200 cars popped their hoods and opened their doors for people to take a look and drool — as long as they didn’t drool on the paint. For every car, four times as many people turned up for the show.
Joseph left that day with a T-shirt, but because they weren’t expecting many children, the smallest he could get was an adult size.
It didn’t matter.
He has slept in that shirt, worn it out to play, sported it while playing with his own remote control cars on the sidewalk, not caring that it is as long as a dress and gives the impression that I don’t know how to dress him. For him, all that matters is the memory of the tall, burly guy with the matte-black muscle car, who fired up his engine and gunned it as loud as a tornado just because a little boy asked.
On Saturday, the third annual cruise-in will take place in the same place, from 2-7 p.m. Organizers said this year will be even bigger.
I know that we will be right there again, with little boys like mine and bigger boys who are still just little kids playing with their amazing toys.