Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Morning Thanks--an aging Buick

Once again, there's a big old Buick in our garage, aging nicely.

We got the first one bargain-basement when my mother--then in her early 90s--hit a truck and didn't stop; after all, she had an appointment with the doctor. It was time for her to park that thing, my sisters said, and I was appointed Jeremiah. "Don't leave without the keys."

I got the job done without undo head butts, escaped unscathed with an old Buick my sisters didn't want. Neither did I. We didn't need another car, especially something only a foot shorter than a hearse. 

"Do I want an old Buick?" I asked my friend who loves cars.

"Are you kidding?" he said. "Every retired guy in Sioux County, wants that car. You can sell it in a heartbeat, and it'll run forever."

I took that advice as admonition and drove the Buick home. It rode on air and got mileage to die for.  My wife wasn't taken with a bus whose owners register a median age in the mid-70s, and neither was I, quite frankly, not yet being retired myself. Thought the old Buick beneath me, even though it was a Park Avenue, an automobile for autocrats, really just old farts. 

My mother's room at the old folks home looked out at the parking lot. Whenever we'd drive up from Iowa, she'd wince. "It's time you get a new car," she'd say. "Nobody drives around in something like that anymore." 

Thing is, it wouldn't die. What's more, it sipped fuel like a Honda and rode a like hovercraft. If you can get over a little embarrassment, what's not to like? I told myself.

Then my father-in-law whacked a truck. Taking his keys didn't mean fisticuffs, but it did prompt some doleful anguish because he was, from that time forth, sentenced to the Home, he told me in a dirge. But it had to be. He couldn't see. 

Thus, we came heir to his old Explorer too, which would have been just fine if we had a boat to tow. Thing drank gas the way a black lab slurps from a toilet bowl.  And, now the two of us had three cars. 

So I asked my son if he wanted one. He wasn't thrilled, but he took his grandma's Buick, leaving the gas hog in our garage. I took the Explorer hither and yon, registered maybe 16 mpg on the open road, and just about went nuts by way of its annoying automatic door locks. My friend claims cars you don't like run forever out of pure spite.

I had to admit that I'd learned to love the Buick. Then again, now I'm retired.

A couple months ago, my son claimed he put $700 into that old Park Ave. "You're serious?" I said. "Is it worth that much?" He told me his mechanic said to do it because that premium engine still had 100,000 miles in it. They don't make 'em like they used to, the guy said. So my son, down in Oklahoma, uses it daily. His wife rides along only under protest.

So last week when the dealer down the street set an old Buick on his lot, just a lighter shade of gray, I couldn't help but ask how much it would cost me to swap the gas hog. He shrugged his shoulders and made me a waaaay good offer, so I'm pleased pink--well gray, I guess--to let you know that, once again, there's an aging Buick in my garage. 

And I'm older now. I don't even blush in town.

My mother's gone, but that car, so much like hers, would make her proud.

Well, then again, maybe not. "Nobody drives a car like that anymore," she used to say.

These days, she may be a better judge of quality. I know I am, and I know I'm happy.


Anonymous said...

Well, I figured a true-blue bona fide liberal would be driving around in some campy Toyota or Subaru sticking out like a sore thumb in Sioux County. Hey, even a liberal can be right once in a while--I guess! A liberal in a, what has the world turned into?

Doug Calsbeek said...

Most of the cars I pick are accidents, an old Chevrolet four-door that I drove around after high school that got painted a snot-green after my sister decapitated a fireplug, a sport Mercury Cougar with a zippy V-6 that I turned over to a friend for the remaining book of payments, an old Ford boat with an in-line engine heater to keep an aging battery alive that eventually wheezed and died but not before killing a few farm cats that were attracted to its warm engine block, a very old farm pickup with wooden side racks and a very low gear ratio that we drove back and forth into town, purchased from a friend who felt our obsession with bicycling was a little overdone. Then my wife took over the choices and did a much better job finding appropriate family vehicles, until our latest, a Buick crossover that has tires with annoying road noise, subpar mileage but with a lot more miles yet.
Cars, we're building more spaces for them, I read, than we're building shelters for ourselves. I don't know who coined the phrase "infernal combustion," but it fits.