I don’t k now about you but I can’t think of anything that transports me back to my teen summers quicker than old-time rock and roll. Throw in a lot full of classic 50’s cars, ’60’s era muscle cars, a 70’s coupe or two and I’m back there before you can say bell bottoms!
That’s why I make it one of my summer rituals to wander through the McDonald’s parking lot at Cortlandt Town Centre when the classic car lover faithful gather on Saturday evenings every summer to set up chairs no one ever sits on, and show off their babies.
Since the shopping center is home to Home Depot, A&P, Marshalls, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, a ten theater movieplex, and three – oh glory,yes three – shoe outlets including my all-time favorite , DSW, chances are I’m there on Saturdays although I only visit t he car show once a summer – when the music speaks to me.
You can hear it from near and far, Some times it’s The Rolling Stones, getting no satisfaction, other times it’s The Monkees, enjoying a Pleasant Valley Sunday, or Smokey Robinson and the Miracles Going to a go-go, or of course, The Beach Boys getting around, or Jan and Dean serenading their Little GTO (just googled that and found it’s not Jan & Dean but Ronnie & the Daytonas whom I never heard of – guess that shows it wasn’t one of my favorites!)
On this particular evening it was Diana Ross and The Supremes pleading Stop in the Name of Love. It had the opposite effect in me. I went – in search of a memory or two
And I found them.
My best friend in eighth grade, Gail Wilson’s father’s car a ’60 Buick (’59?)
My fifth grade teacher, Miss Brook’s ’56 Chevrolet (gray and white)
.The ’66 Dodge (1st car on the left) my Dad trusted me with to ferry my mother and brother back and forth to the beach all summer in Cape Cod while he stayed in NY to work. Obviously we weren’t a two car family – yet
My brother Jim’s ’73 Dodge when we had become a three car family. It’s the brown car right next to the McDonald’s entrance which is quite appropriate as Jim kept McDonald’s in business!
The ’70’s era Dodge Dart my father bought when we were a four car family and there was no danger of my brothers or I driving his car. Except he didn’t race it so the engine didn’t have all that “stuff”
As Archie & Edith Bunker used to sing, “Those were the Days.” Cars had their own distinctive look and you didn’t have to look for the name on the front to know what it was. Do you think that 40 years from now, today’s youth will be gathering to show off their Mazdas & Mitsubishis?
I won’t be around to find out, but you know what? I hope they will.
No, you haven’t missed it. None of the auto dealers have come up with a model called Avatar. But now that I think of it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.
There are two definitions for avatar:
The classic one: n.The incarnation of a Hindu deity, especially Vishnu, in human or animal form.
And the Gamer one:
n. a personalized graphic file or rendering that represents a computer user.
A gamer chooses an avatar of this type when she enters the kill-or-be-killed world of Xbox or Play Station. Other gamers recognize her by this guise and she in turn recognizes them by the avatar they have fashioned.
Now where was I going with this ? Oh yes – Kevin.
Back in April, the doors in The House of Mars needed some spring tweaking. The shed door wouldn’t close all the way; the door under my sink would close all the way, but wouldn’t stay shut; and the basement door needed some winter strips replaced. I made an appointment with Kevin the Carpenter to come take a look.
Kevin is one of the few people I know who is fearless in the face of The Driveway from Hell. Most people park on the road and walk up.
Not Kevin. He has no qualms about tackling the ascent, not only that, but he takes it on, backwards. It’s a spectacle to behold, one that engages all your senses; the whirlwind of scraping gravel, the cloud of burning rubber, the squealing tires. No it’s not a speedy ascent, but eventually the hefty pick-up claws its way to the top, the ever-present extended ladder strapped to its side, holding on for dear life. But when a Subaru Outback appeared at the top of the driveway, front first, I went outside to investigate. The door opened and it was Kevin, after all
“I was expecting your truck,” I told him.
“Yeah, nobody knows me without my truck,” he answered.
I didn’t know but I’d soon be echoing his words.
When I first traded in Truckito for my present car, I lost my identity, my avatar. I drove through the neighborhood giving my usual wave to neighbors in their yards but no one waved back. I was no longer the white pick-up truck.
Once the weather got warmer and I was able to roll down my window, there was a delayed reaction before anyone returned my greeting. To a person, they all exclaimed “Oh, I didn’t recognize you without your truck.” Little by little I am taking on a new avatar, a little grey station wagon.
Similar to gamers, some people choose a type of avatar, er car, that represents a certain style or image they have of themselves. Take my brother, Jim. It is my belief that Jim heard a car honking while in utero and fell madly in love. Jim grew up living for the day when he would get his first car. It was a hand-me-down from my dad, but he saved his money and by the time he graduated from college he made a down payment on a
In 1978 the Charger was giving up the ghost. Jim was married by now so he took on what was in his eyes a more mature avatar
They lived happily ever after until 1986, he and the Camaro that is. Jim had been divorced for about five years by then. Being a divorced father meant that when the Camaro came to the end of its road, he had to make a more economic choice
If I had a dollar for every time he called it an econo-box and two dollars for every time he complained that “This car just isn’t me”, I still wouldn’t be rich, but I’m sure you get my point. Jim was not satisfied with this avatar.
Not every driver sees her car as her particular avatar, but all of us have preconceived notions when we see a certain type of car. C’mon yes you do.
Who do you expect to be driving this?
The man I used to be married developed an algorithm all his own for determining who he least wanted to be driving behind in a no passing situation. I guess you could say it was a detailed avatar.
A Buick – be concerned.
A Buick with an old man behind the wheel – be very concerned
A Buick with an old man behind the wheel, wearing a brimmed hat – sigh and grit your teeth
A Buick with an old man behind the wheel, wearing a brimmed hat, with a cigar in his mouth – take the next right and figure out an alternate route.
So, what do you drive, and why? Comments are always welcome. And you can be anonymous, your avatar will never tell.