We take a break from our usual topics to explore something of truly theological significance. Cars.
I'm 57. In my life to date my name has been on the title of seven cars. My observation is, this is not typical -- I know any number of people much younger than I am who have had more than that. On top of that, I still own three of them, which is less typical yet. Even if we include my first car, which technically was not mine but a second family vehicle (a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air that had been "the" family car until Dad bought a 1964 Buick Wildcat but kept the Chevy and let me use it once I got my licence) it's still a little apart from the norm.
What does this mean? (There's the Lutheran part!)
It means that my life hasn't been that of your average bear, even when it comes to cars. (To assist my biographers with their footnotes, though I'd prefer endnotes, the "bear" reference is to the popular mid C20 cartoon series Yogi Bear, which name itself is derived from baseball legend Yogi Berra, and baseball being the mind of God at sport the theological connexion is thus established, and which character often used the comparative " xxx ... than your average bear", so there guys, but cite this post if this is part of your dissertation or your adviser will raise a stink about uncited sources.)
After the 1955 Chevrolet, which as we saw really wasn't mine anyway, the list is:
1. 1970 Renault 10.
2. 1971 Renault 16.
3. 1977 Toyota Corolla Deluxe.
4. 1983 Pontiac Fiero SE.
5. 1993 Nissan Sentra XE.
6. 1992 Plymouth Voyager LE.
7. 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser Limited Edition.
1. The R10 was a magnificent vehicle. Rear engine roomy little sedan, went in all conditions and through anything -- except when I introduced it to a tree trunk while attempting to drive while sleeping in the context of a seriously mis-spent youth. Had my life been more typical and this incident not happened, I would likely be driving it yet to-day in late 2007, 37 years later and enjoying as on the first day, to borrow Goethe's phrase (look that one up biographers, it ain't that far into Faust). But wait, that would render me atypical again! Is this a loop or infinite regress? Lito can help sort that one out.
2. The R16 lasted but a few months. It was front wheel drive before that became the norm. Which contributed to its fate, as it met its end in a roll taken while exploring the limits of high speed cornering with front wheel drive in the context of a seriously mis-spent youth. Insurance being rightly what it is, being under 25, foreign cars, and mis-spent youth factors, I was not able to afford insuring a car for the next five years.
3. Then the 1977 Corolla. A rock solid absolutely otherwise unremarkable sedan I drove for the next 17 years. I loved being able to keep a car on the road more than one year or 10k miles, whichever came first, without an Annual Spring Wreck. I was 27 when I bought it, with both youth and its mis-spentidness (which reminds me, I'm going to blog about universals and the mathematical foundations of philosophy and the philosophical foundations of mathematics here soon) now behind, and 42 when I sold it at 177k miles.
4. In 1988 I bought a 1986 Fiero, still owning the Corolla, a mere 9 years old at the time. I was 38, and widely assumed to be having a mid-life crisis. However, the truth is, when we bought the 1955 Chevrolet from my uncle who was in the car business, he took my Dad and me for a little spin, shall we say, in the then brand new wonder from Chevrolet, the Corvette. Absolutely changed my life, and yeah, I know, three people, two seats, however my Dad and uncle have long since been gathered unto their ancestors, I was a kid so not responsible and the statute of limitations has probably expired anyway this having been the mid 1950s. From that drive on, I knew one day I would have a sports car, and, after seeing the Cinerama movie Grand Prix in the 1960s, which also changed my life and made me a Formula One fan, with the engine behind the driver where it bloody well belongs. It sits in the driveway now, undriveable and probably soon to be sold.
5. Then came the 1993 Nissan Sentra, which, now married, my wife and I bought used off a lease in 1995. It was the first car I ever had with automatic transmission. Nancy had a Sentra before it and going into the marriage, but when it was no longer reliable and left her stranded in a storm one time, she, being quite unsentimental about things, was ready to trade. The Fiero, an attraction in early dating, had become a possible sign of an unstable male seeking to hang on to his youth rather than make adult commitments, like say marriage, so it became my go to work car and the Nissan was both hers and the family car. Though I'll have to say, about a week before our first son was born, she was unable to get into a sedan and we went out on our last pre kids date with her more or less dropping into the passenger seat of the Fiero, quite a contrast from those early dates! I kept the Sentra for a year or two after Nancy died, since by that time there were two kids and one adult, and I was unwilling to apply the mathematics of my Corvette experience to daily life.
6. We had come to want a van and started looking for one, but when she became ill that took a back seat until that played itself out and I re-organised life to go forward. So in the Summer after, 1998, I bought after much looking the 1992 Voyager, top of the line when new and actually owned by a little old lady who didn't drive it much. Finding a good low miles used van isn't easy, since most people buy them to pile in the kids and go everywhere. This is absolutely the best vehicle ever, and if I could get a new one just like it I wouldn't look at anything else. Now that I think of it, Dad said the same about the 1955 Chevy. It now has 144k miles, on its second tranny and runs like a champ, just this morning allowing me to get two kids to two basketball games in different parts of town unfazed at all by the snow we're having and allowing the pleasure of monitoring it on a full six gauge instrument panel, unavailable now on the new ones but more important to me than stow and go seats or a table in the back. It's everything in one -- sports, sedan, utility, whatever you need it to be. It was also the first vehicle I bought on my own, without either a dad or a wife co-signing, just me, which at age 48 is not when this usually happens.
7. But it's a machine too, and during its tranny troubles the idea of having something newer usable for family purposes but fun too became hard to resist, even though I don't like the current vans as well as my Voyager. Then it came, as if it were heard at Sinai -- you already have a van you like, why bother with vans, that '06 top of the line PT they want to unload because the '07s are here is a blast to drive, has a lot of the utility of the van, and the boys love it. So we bought it Thanksgiving week-end 2006, the first new car I ever owned, and typically, at age 56, atypical. It's a terrific little car, just fine in the Winter too, and with the van still around to take the bigger and/or messier hauling chores, just the right choice. If only it came with full instruments (which is: speedometre, tach, gas, oil, water and battery, for those of you for whom driving is just transportation rather than a life event) it would be perfect.
So that's the seven, three of them in the driveway, one driver in the house. Yeah, I know, atypical again. I think it's time to take it down to two, the Voyager and the PT. The kid in the Corvette has found his dream vehicle in a mini-van. Now there's transformation, even without cabbage (biographers, that's a reference to the subtitle of one of my favourite Lutheran blogs, Lutheran Lucciola). Oh wait, there IS cabbage -- trips to Runza!! (vide prior post on Runzas -- vide, biographers, being the correct Latin word in foot or end notes for "see", a solid usage in adacemic succession, so to speak, from the original university dudes, and for jumping Judas Priest's sake say VEE-day, not WEE-day, all of which revisionist usage is surely a sign that the end of times is near, also sprach Herr Dr Maher, and just to not leave that one hanging, a reference to the great work by Nietzsche, the only philosopher worth reading.)
There. A window into my soul.
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