My oldest is almost sixteen, although that may be of concern to some parents for me it brings a sense of excitement and joy. The other day we ventured into the DMV so he could take a shot at passing his driver’s license written exam. I am proud to say he is now behind the wheel of any car we allow him drive. My son handles the pressure of driving a vehicle with incredible confidence. He remains calm and relaxed, very aware of his surroundings and for a new driver relatively smooth on the accelerator. The complete opposite of myself at his age. I was nervous. Terrified really, it scared the hell out of me driving down the roadway. I must have looked like a triathelete crossing the finish line when I finally drove on the freeway! Sweat pouring down my face, shirt soaked in perspiration! 55 mph seemed as though we were traveling at light speed! All those vehicles around me while moving fast, I swear looking out the windshield was like peering out the front of the Millenium Falcon at warp factor one! While we are on the subject of reported space junk, I was always relegated to driving my mothers 1972 Pontiac station wagon. Yuck! Major cool points lost! I prayed everyday that none of my friends saw me in that chocolate-brown hunk of poo with wood siding!
Yet my son doesn’t seem to care. Mini-van or truck, scooter or explorer it means nothing to him. As long as it has a steering wheel and motor he’s willing to drive. I don’t know if that means I had higher standards as a kid or he just enjoys the thought of driving so much he doesnt care. I really wanted to drive too! I started daydreaming about it when I was thirteen. I would spend endless hours on a Saturday just sitting behind the wheel of my dads 1963 GMC truck pretending to drive. I would close my eyes and see myself steering through town, waving at my friends, all while applying the clutch and shifting gears. My dream car was a 1966 Chevy Chevelle. Second runner-up was a 1968 Chevy half ton stepside truck. I dreamt about them, prayed I would own one. I knew exactly what they would look like, from color paint, rims, interior and stereo systems to where I would park them in the high school parking lot. I had it all figured out.
So what went wrong? Why doesn’t my son seem to care the way I did? Why doesn’t he have the same love for cars ? Why are his expectations so low? He has no answer to any of my questions when I ask him.
In my day your car was a rite of passage, a step into manhood, it defined who you were as a young male. Today no one seems to care. His friends don’t care! When I pick him up at the high school there isn’t one nice custom car/truck in the parking lot. Even the little Honda’s are bone stock! What the hell!
Anyway I wrote this a while back in regards to a piece about your first vehicle. I entered it and it was chosen as one of the final stories. The whole reason I looked it up and am posting it to my blog is simple. I am left pondering. Will my children have the same memories of their first vehicles as I did? Or have those days gone the way of cruising and eight tracks? Gone forever, replaced by video games and techno geeks?
Anyways here it is….
The day I brought it home I had no way of knowing the effect it would have on my life so many years later. This machine of dreams made of steel, fabric, glass and wood. It was green and had the smell of old vinyl which hit you hard as you opened the door. The body lines curved, rolled and seemed to run on with no end. The glass was large and bulbous, when you sat inside you felt as though you were a fish looking out at the world from a mobile aquarium. There wasn’t much chrome on this metal masterpiece and that was the way I liked it. Anyone could have a flashy ride with a little money and some elbow grease, but it took someone with confidence and grit to pull off the industrialized look that it held when your eyes fell upon its shadowy form.
My 1964 Chevrolet stepside had a three on the tree with a 289 V8 that rumbled at idle. The gas tank was right behind the seat, which left a hint of petrol wafting through the cab on a warm summers day. Right next to the fuel cell I had carefully mounted a motorized windshield wiper container, which I had filled with whiskey. There was small tubing running under the rubber flooring towards my glove box. When you opened the glove box there were three cup rings where whiskey was dispensed through a small metal wiper fluid nozzle into your waiting glass. The entire thing was wired to a marine switch which ironically in today’s age of not drinking and driving was located next to the ignition.
I loved this truck! I hardly slept at night waiting for the morning, just so I could drive it somewhere, anywhere! I made up excuses to run errands for friends or family just so I could be behind the wheel. It rode rough, had a steering wheel the size of a manhole cover, no air conditioning, and drum brakes that didn’t stop worth a darn. It was primitive, but I loved it! Whenever I see one drive by I am flooded with memories of first dates, parties with my friends, drag racing at the end of the boulevard (yes we still cruised back then) and loading up with my closest buddies then traveling where ever and whenever we felt like it.
You see this was my first truck, my first car, rolled into one. It was the epitome of teenage masculinity, my identity, my solace. It opened the door to freedom from my shuttered world and behind its closed doors it held all the secrets of our journeys together.
Maybe he shouldnt have memories of a first vehicle after all. Sounds like trouble waiting to happen. A Honda civic will do nicely thank you….