Release the troll

We’ve officially outgrown our car,” I think as I shut the back hatch, locking our friend, Mike, in the trunk.

You want to go out to eat with our whole family and come along in the car?

Then you’re riding in trunk. That’s how we roll.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. We have a mid-sized SUV — a Toyota Highlander — and there are windows in the way-back.  We would never cram a friend in a dark, claustrophobic trunk, like a corpse or a bag of golf clubs.

Beside, Maisie rides in the trunk area all the time and she doesn’t seem to mind.

Not that she has a choice. She was booted to the back when Brynn arrived.

In the days of my Honda civic, Little Zippy, Maisie once tried to stow away.

We bought the Highlander six years ago. Pre-Cayden and in our “oh-my-god-we’re-gonna-be-parents” mode. At the time we were freaked out by one car seat and the passenger it would carry.

The thought of three(!) back then seemed as plausible as a ticket to the moon.

But now here we are; no closer to the moon but with a row of car seats that interlock like Legos. According to seatbelt laws, we’re at max capacity with two people in the front and three kids in back.

Which is why we seat our friends in the trunk. We’ve even coined a term for this particular passenger. The Trunk Monkey.

Or “Trunk Troll,” if you prefer.

I’ve volunteered to be trunk troll and it’s not too bad. I recline and press my feet against the glass. It’s hard to hear the radio or conversation beyond the din of kids, so I usually nap. But sometimes I sit up and catch the eye of a passing driver, who does a double take and probably thinks: “Holy cow, I think I just saw a trunk troll!”

People unabashedly stare when we arrive at a restaurant or an event. Martin and I emerge from the front, the kids spill out the back, and finally we pop the hatch to let the trunk monkey uncrumple his legs and crawl out.

I know that our trunk troll tradition cannot continue. In the future we’ll need to safely carry the kids’ friends.

And adults, too…who are less inclined to travel in the cargo hold.