The Quotable

How to Make Out in the Back 
of a Volkswagen Beetle

Don’t act surprised when he drives up and you realize just how small it is. He’s been talking about buying a Volkswagen Beetle for months, and now that he’s done it, try not to remind him that borrowing his parents’ van really wasn’t so bad, that the spacious back seat gave you plenty of room for … well, you know.

Remind yourself that the slate-gray curves and bug-eye headlights are pretty cute, after all. Tuck into the front passenger seat, and try not to glance at the back — not yet. Reach not-so-far to your left to take his hand, then pull your arm back when you remember the Beetle is a manual, and that he needs his hand to navigate the shifter.

“So what do you think?” he shouts over the roar of the motor.

Shout back, “It’s so cool that you have your own car.” Because that’s really what it’s about. Remember that now you can go anywhere, anytime, without asking to borrow a vehicle. A big deal when you’re 18 and he’s 17.

“Where do you want to go?” he shouts again.

Try to ignore the motor’s roar. Glance in the side mirror at the pink horizon behind you. Think of how to kill the next hour until nighttime comes. “Taco Bell?”

Acknowledge that it’s not glamorous, but recognize that your options are limited in a small town with mostly corporate chain stores. Pretend it’s okay that your dates always begin with munching on 99-cent tacos and seven-layer burritos.

Notice how easily he squeezes the Beetle into a parking spot between a Mazda low-rider and a mud-splattered pickup. Try not to glance at the back as you get out and follow him toward the restaurant. Welcome the blast of air-conditioned air as it dries the sweat from your lower back and neck.

Slurp Dr Pepper through a straw and then smile as you watch the hot sauce from his burrito dribble down his chin. Stare at his deep brown eyes until he touches your hand, and try not to let him see you quiver at the warmth of his skin.

“It’s almost dark,” he says. “Do you wanna go?”

Grin and nod slowly, knowing where you’ll end up. Squeeze back into the front passenger seat of the Beetle, and observe his confidence as he punches the clutch and turns the steering wheel of his first car. Roll down the window, lean back on the headrest, let the humid air blast your face. Listen to the gravel crunch under the wheels as he navigates the hill outside town, up the road that no one seems to know about but you two. Drink in the quiet when he cuts the engine.

Say, “I guess we won’t be coming here for much longer.”

“What about when you come home for visits?” he asks.

“I probably won’t come home until Thanksgiving, at least. Unless someone in my dorm will give me a ride.”

“I’ve got this car now. I could come visit you.”

Look at his face in the moonlight to decide whether he’s serious. “Your mom would let you drive up there to see me? You know she’ll be glad when I’m gone.”

He looks away at a distant point beyond the windshield. “Maybe you’re right.”

Finally venture a look at the back seat. Squint to make out the vinyl. Say, “It’s so tiny back there. Will we even fit?”

“Sure we can fit,” he says before he gets out, jerks the front seat forward, and clambers into the back. Follow him.

Notice how your legs have no problem finding space, but his make their way over to your side. Feel his side already touching yours — no need to scoot closer together. Turn to face him, and accidentally elbow him in the ribs. Giggle nervously together. Squint again, lean in to where you think his mouth is, but kiss his chin instead. Maneuver up to his mouth, then feel yourself float as your tongues intertwine. Listen to the vinyl squeak as he adjusts his arm and shimmies his hand up your shirt. Try not to put all your weight on him as you lean in. Realize that you can’t lie down — not enough room. Try not to laugh as he massages your breast underneath your bra.

Ask, “How are we going to do this?”

“We’ll just have to sit up,” he says. “Try to get on my lap.”

Kiss him again before turning around to maneuver backwards. Apologize when you try to grab his shoulder for support but plant your hand in his face. Plop down on his lap and clasp your arms around his neck, waiting for him to re-stretch his legs. Tuck your elbows in close as you slip off your t-shirt, then pull his off. Keep your shorts on — those aren’t part of the deal. Try to kiss his chest without falling over. Fail. Sit back up, collapse into his neck, and laugh with him.

Say, “I don’t think this is going to work.”

Listen to his sigh. “I think you’re right.”

Slide your leg, wet with sweat, across the vinyl. Say, “It’s hot back here. Let’s get out.”

Squeeze your way through his door, trying not to smash his legs along the way. Snatch your shirt off the floorboard and yank it back over your head. Free of the confines of the backseat, sprawl on your back on the ground, your legs stretched and your hands clasped behind your head. Watch him clamber out of the car, one limb at a time, and see the glow of moonlight on his chest before he covers it with his shirt.

Laugh again. “That was pretty silly.”

He laughs, too. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“It really is a cool car, though.”


When he reaches for your hand, sit up and gaze out at your town below, at the glow of the store signs and billboards and street lamps. Imagine the tiny points of light stretching and squirming their way off into the horizon, so far that they can’t find their way back.


Sarah Evans, a former newspaper reporter, lives in Oregon and drives a Toyota Avalon — which has a spacious back seat. She recently earned her MFA in nonfiction writing from Pacific University. This is her first published literary work.

Subscribe or Buy

Like this piece?

Support the artist!

Share This

The Quotable 9 Night and Day