Today begins my blog journey from A to Z, and I thought I'd start with an explanation of my theme.
No pretense is made regarding my seniority in any past blog post, so why start now? I don't care how old I am, how old I was, or how old I'll be next year. I. Just. Don't. Care. Never have; the gene that causes age anxiety was recessive, I guess. I'm on the flipside of fifty. It's a blessing, I suppose, on the grounds that I know people who are truly burdened by their actual age to the point of lying about it or being extremely touchy about the subject.
With my theme, I'm not talking to those folks; they're hyper-aware of their chronology. I'm going to address the people who are rolling into geezerdom and just don't realize it. They don't know the signs. I'm here to help. If you do the following, dear reader, I have bad news for you...you may have arrived at geezerhood.
Let's get started:
A is for AUTO
One of the tell-tale signs of geezerdom has to be the selective amnesia one develops over cars they have had in the past. With no disrespect to the dead, I will start with my dear, departed Dad.
At the time Dad married my mother, he possessed a black and white Chrysler DeSoto convertible. I'm guesstimating it was a 1961, but I truly don't know. I'm basing that guess on the fact that the last year they made the DeSoto was 1961 and by the time I started first grade in 1965, the car was gone. More about that later... I should remember more key details, but most of the time, when my Dad spoke lovingly of that car, all I heard was "blah blah blah DeSoto blah blah."
My Mom and Dad talked about that car like it was their first born child; the favorite, in fact. "The fins" were apparently the coolest thing either of them had ever encountered, based on the number of times it was mentioned. No DeSoto conversation ever occurred without dropping the "fin" bomb and I always thought that having fins sounded weird, like it was a whale or a dolphin but God forbid I referred to it as "the big fenders"...I was a kid, what did I know? Dad schooled me: "They're fins!"
Then Mom and Dad would move on to talking about "the convertible" and the things they did with the roof down, those wild and crazy kids.
But all the grandiose DeSoto chatter was just smoke and mirrors: I knew the truth. For me and my sister, that big, dumb highway-Shamu of a car was pure torture.
The biggest issue we had was that magical, mystical convertible. WE LIVED IN NORTHEAST OHIO, PEOPLE. When I was in elementary school, the snow started in September, I swear. It was never convertible weather, in my memory. I know there had to be one day, sometime in the year, when that convertible was a wonderful asset, but I can't remember even once.
What I do remember oh-so-well is sitting in the back seat, freezing and shivering, as we did our frequent jaunts to West Virginia to see my grandmothers. The back windows were made of plastic and there was always a hole of some sort. Those faux windows were no match for the alternating cold and heat of a year spent in an Ohio driveway. Subsequently, as winter travel rolled around, I'd find a steady stream of cold, frigid air that blew in my face all the way to grandma's house. This also put my Dad in a foul mood (truthfully, my Dad was in a foul mood most of the time) and he let off steam by blaming the holes in the plastic on a variety of sources. Eventually, I'd get that bullseye on my back...he always yelled, "are you putting your finger in that hole and making it bigger? Get your hand away from that hole!"
True confession: I never put my hand in that hole.
Reality check: I held my hand up to block the frostbite express blowing in my face.
In 1965, I nearly died of pneumonia and measles. Coincidence? Ladies and gentlemen of the jury...
But for all cold, backseat kids, there comes a day when their secret wishes come true. Driving back to Ohio after dropping my sister and I off at grandma's, a miracle occurred. I kid you not, people. A huge boulder fell from one of those beautiful, man made, most unnatural, carved out mountains that hugged the highway... and landed on the hood of the DeSoto, destroying it -- but not causing any injury to my parents.
But I always thought God gave the biggest dose of mercy to my sister and I.
The Act II Spoiler: Having lost his dream car, my Dad bought my Mom a brand new red convertible Corvair. You remember the Corvair, right? Ralph Nader wrote a book about the Corvair, called "Unsafe at Any Speed"?
By the spring of 1966, “Unsafe at Any Speed” was a best seller for nonfiction, along with Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”
We just called it "the family car."
If you or your loved ones talk about your former road-commode cars like they were rolling thrones, shake it off! Time may be playing tricks on you and I hate to say it, but...
YOU MIGHT BE A GEEZER.
And the worse thing about that is I've found myself talking about my first car, a Plymouth Fury, like it was a fantastic machine...then, I stop, dead in my tracks. What am I saying? That car really was a road-commode. Its one redeeming factor was air conditioning; it was the first car in our family to have it and I was hooked. So was my Dad, he borrowed it whenever it was ridiculously hot and sticky, and I'd get to use the "work car." After all, why should I use my own car, that I bought and paid for, on a day when it would benefit me with the comfort of some lovely air conditioning?
Additionally, the Fury boasted a cracked engine mount that made the car hop around the corners till I emptied my meager bank account to fix it. NOT THAT I'M BITTER, but I was sick of my friends who would laugh till they cried and shout, "road commode!"
Perhaps I can keep true geezerdom at bay for myself...for a while, anyhow.