Father’s Day 2020 – Pandemic Version
Dad died nearly 24 years ago. I can’t believe it’s been that long. When I started writing this I honestly believed the words would come pouring out, the memories would be sharp and events that happened so long ago would feel as if they happened yesterday. Well, guess what? I’ve been stumbling over my words, all of my memories are somewhat foggy at this point, and few events stand out as worthwhile things to write about. When you write as much as I do not having anything to write about (especially on Father’s Day) is odd. But the more I think about this I remember the thing I want to write about. I want to tell you about Dad’s Old Car.
“I had this habit for a long time, I used to get in my car and I would drive back through my old neighborhood, a little town I grew up in. And I would always drive past the little houses I used to live in…and I got so I would do it really regularly, for years. And I eventually got to wonderin’, what the hell am I doin? And so, I went to see a psychiatrist (laughter), this is true!…and, I sat down and I said, ‘you know, doc, for years I’ve been getting in my car, and I drive back to my town and I pass my houses late at night and, you know, what am I doing?’ And he said, ‘I want YOU to tell me what you think you’re doing.’ So I go ‘that’s what I’m paying YOU for.’ So he says, ‘well, what you’re doing’ he says ‘is that something bad happened, and, you know, you’re going back, you know, thinkin’ that you can make it right again. Something went wrong and you keep going back to see if you can fix it, and somehow make it right.’ and I sat there and I said, ‘that IS what I’m doing.’ And he said, ‘well you can’t’.”
Dad’s Old Car was a Chevy Bel Air. It was a turquoise and brown Chevrolet Bel Air, the brown being the various rusted out spots scattered where rust happens to an older car. The car was bought used. Dad never bought new cars probably because he couldn’t afford new cars. As much as I think fondly of that car now, as a kid I could hardly hide my embarrassment for the fact our family had to drive a beater. I was angry too. When I got my driver’s license the car insurance premium soared to an unaffordable level for a family of six having trouble making ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck. Dad asked me to surrender my license which I agreed to. When the insurance company got proof from the motor vehicle agency I no longer had a license, they lowered the premium back down.
One day when I wasn’t being lectured or yelled at or yelling back I asked Dad why he never bought new cars.
“A car gets you from point A to point B. That’s it. You can spend as much as you want or as little as you want. They all do the same thing.”
“Now the neighbors come from near and far
As we pull up in our brand new used car
I wish he’d just hit the gas and let out a cry
and tell ’em all they can kiss our asses goodbye”
Used Cars – Springsteen
It’s funny the things you think about, the memories that come alive on certain days. And while we’re on the topic of Dad’s Old Car here’s an update on TOMC (The Old Man Car). TOMC hit 70,000 miles last year. On Father’s Day 2020 this is where the odometer sits:
Thanks for the life advice Dad. Happy Father’s Day.