My body is an automobile.
But what kind? On days like today, I feel more out of the user-car lot than the Detroit Auto Show. Mary Widdicks of Outmanned Mommy recently compared her body to a temple in an honest and witty diatribe.
My body is like a vehicle. On a long and winding road.
Long ago, off the assembly line, I had sleek lines (ish). Innovative engineering. Sporty performance and precision responsiveness. I reached college not a sports car, but definitely potential of high performance. New-car smell and everything.
I didn’t stop traffic, but I could turn a head. It’s like that when you’re new. The latest models have that gloss, that fresh look that makes even last year’s model passé. Undinged doors. Pristine bumpers. A motor that revs with the power of youth.
The moment you drive off the lot? Depreciation begins.
Youth begets oblivion when it comes to such things.
It’s easy to get routine maintenance at first. Keep firing on all cylinders. A little TLC, sure. But when you’re fresh out of the showroom, you want to rev that engine on a Saturday night more than take corners with care.
I didn’t notice the first door dings. Or hiccup in acceleration. My first careless scrape with a concrete pillar is cause to stop the car, inspect the damage, rip an F-bomb, toss a baseball cap, even. But you have to drive off. Hope to do better.
And hey … that motor still roars like a lion. It’s all good.
I didn’t notice as the dashboard faded. Or one headlight dimmed. Or that a turn signal or backup light didn’t shine. Who has time for that? I’m a new model.
Before long, new models come out.With sleeker lines. And pristine bumpers.
They look silly. Like toys. Psh.
To say the rest happens in a blink of an eye implies you’re watching out for it. Cruising gives way to a commute. Babes in the backseat, to baby car seats. Hauling ass disappears and hauling kids becomes Job One.
There’s still beauty in it. I have to pull a load now, or cram a rocking chair into the trunk. Yikes, that’s a bad scratch. What did I just run over? Crap. Grocery carts and gravel roads take their toll. My sleek lines look boxy.
But I’m doing more significant work. I am dad, not daredevil.
I can still maintain. I can take time on a Saturday morning to check oil and fluids, work on the body a bit. At least give it a gleam. If I’m not lucky, there will be an event. Something that stops me in my tracks. A blown transmission.
Dead battery. Body-crushing collision.
How does this happen? Yesterday, I cruised. Today? I need the special motor oil for cars with extensive mileage. It’s not easy to find replacement parts. If I toss the keys to someone, they come with instructions.
Let ‘er warm up first.
Not too fast on the highway.
Easy on the curves.
The new models look downright space age. I’m in that spot, between the new model and classic.
I’m just an old beater.
Rust sets in. Failure of parts you didn’t even know existed. Their repair comes with expensive bills. Am I worth it? I don’t see as many of me on the road anymore. Some are in better shape. Many, far worse.
Is that a bungee cord holding that one together?
But, I motor on. I remember that left turns in conditions 35 degrees and lower make an awful noise. I don’t forget that the defroster doesn’t work in the back. I no longer come to a stoplight alongside someone and think, “I could take this guy.”
But there is still potential.
If I can just move, just maintain, just avoid the scrap heap …
I can become a classic.
A classic is either a survivor or a restoration. Survivors have lived right and weathered the bad weather and collisions and depreciation. Restorations fall into disrepair, but find a way back. Rust, buffed out. Flaws, corrected.
With a little TLC, I can revive some of that precision and performance.
The lines? They’re classic now. They don’t blend so much into the grey fabric between youth and old age, but stand out a bit. Like experience and appreciation.
Classic cars’ beauty remains despite all that. Their divinity is in their place in history, a nod to how good things once were. They can turn heads – at a car show, hoods raised. Even those in sleek new models can appreciate a classic.
Their road doesn’t have to end.
With any luck, I’ll keep moving, too. Along that long and winding road.