Words. So many words. Too many words.
Ann at The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally blog wrote about brevity last week. It made me think of the monstrosity that was my Coffee-House Applause post a couple of weeks ago. When I hit save, it weighed in at more than 1,000 words.
That’s too much, y’all.
I pared it down to 800-plus and published. I should know better. My mentor, copy editor Harry Pickett, said to make every word fight to stay on the page. On my blog page, words did not fight. They made love and had babies. Dozens of them.
I’ll be brief today, if anything, to prove to myself I can.
Saturdays are made for dads. During the offseason, its the day we get up early. To make pancakes. To wear jeans and college sweatshirts and get up early to get eggs or antifreeze. To wash and wax our cars. Around the dents and paint chips.
Here’s what my dad’s Saturdays were made up of: Washed cars, oldies, and something grilled.
Mine? Washed cars, hits from Flock of Seagulls to Kajagoogoo on Pandora, and something for dinner, straight out of Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2.
Some things are the same. MacGuire’s car wax. A little gray in the beard. Ill advised stanzas of singing along with the Foo Fighters and Blues Traveler. It would have been Everly Brothers or The Drifters for my dad. Maybe the Dell Vikings.
Nothing makes you feel more like a dad than doing the things dad did. To shave your beard. To hang a dart board and a poster of your hero in your garage. To choose an after shave and hope that when your daughter is away, at movie dates and sleepovers and birthday parties, she’ll smell it on her shirt and think of you.
We’re so busy now. Busy is a badge we wear with ill-conceived honor. We feel we’re not doing our best if we’re not insanely busy. But not too busy to update our status about it. So damn busy.
What would happen if we wrote just one thing down on the to-do list? What would happen if we didn’t care when it got done? What would happen if we didn’t care if it got done at all? Would that make us busy, too?
Soon enough, Saturday will mean no time for pancakes. Saturday will mean eat something fast. Get your shin guards. Find your jersey. Get that kit together. Your notebook for the lineup. Cones. A game ball. A water bottle. Hurry up.
It’s a post for another day. Soccer Saturday means the world to me. It’s ponytails and headbands. Laser focus. Steely reserve. If fear lives there, it stays hidden. I love those days. They lift you and drop you and stir your soul.
For now, though, I’ll take this. Soon enough, my car will fill with soccer balls and notebooks. The floorboards will disappear under cookie wrappers and goalkeeper shirts. Bags from lunch on the run. Shin guards. The odor of shin guards.
Today? I won’t look at the clock. The setting sun and my hungry belly will tell me when it’s time to cook. With Armor All, Windex and Meguiar’s, my 10-year-old Pontiac will become pretty. Like a girl stormtrooper. Like Eva, from Wall-E.
Her name is Gabi, by the way. Short for Gabriella. My car. During a rough week at the shop, when I willed her to get better, my friend Stacey suggested she might heal quickly if only she had a name. So she got one. Plus the nickname.
I think it worked.
The miles pile up. Dad showed me how to drive a car with caress. Don’t stomp the brakes. Easy on the gas. Take the corners like you have a mug of root beer on top of the hood. Easy does it.
I think that worked, too.
Dad sometimes took my car for a week if it ran rough. We’d switch. Every time I got it back … it felt smooth again. Although dad’s cars were so well-waxed, that mug of root beer wouldn’t stand a chance. I think of him when I take a corner.
Gabi still struggles. She hates cold mornings. She hates even more turning on cold morning. I told the girls she’s like a pretty woman who has a bad cough because she smokes. But that’s not it. She’s like a beautiful woman whose joints aren’t what they used to be.
But she can still shine.
And there’s beauty in comfort. And comfort in beauty.
Gabi isn’t the only one with a little mileage. My Rockies cap has been through it all. She wears a little car wax. Pink paint from an old lady’s bathroom. And green paint from a young girl’s dresser drawers. They loved them, by the way. The bathroom.
And the dresser drawers.
So the Rockies cap has miles too. So does the dude who wears it.
I don’t think Saturdays are only for dads. Moms get after it too. Our girls are lucky. They see it both ways. If they find either parent laying on the couch on a Saturday, there’s something wrong. There must be a virus. Who wants to waste a Saturday?
And my girls will have Saturdays, too. How will they remember them with me? So much of mine comes from my dad. But it looks different. It feels different. But still the same. There’ll be music. A shiny car. Something delicious for dinner.
And lots of love. If that means a ride to a friend’s or a job at my side. Maybe both. Maybe it’ll be a request to take some photos with your beat-up HTC Incredible before the sun goes down. Thanks, Elise. Why is everything we own so beat up? Maybe that’s out of love, too.
And I wonder what music they’ll play when they’re grown or what they’ll do on a Saturday, but I hope it doesn’t feel too busy. That’s the thing. One thing on the to-do list. All day to do it. We don’t often get days like this.
My word count has passed 1,000. So much for brevity. But maybe the one thing on my to-do list had nothing to do with brevity. Maybe it’s about a step back from that one thing on the to-do list to talk with a friend.
That means you. So if you don’t mind the mess, or snarled up Rockies cap, there’s probably something good for dinner. Good timing. Let’s go in.
But before we do, look at that shine, that reflection. You can see yourself.
Pretty, isn’t it?