A Perfect Fit

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It was a long time in coming.  Possibly it should have happened sooner, but at that moment everything was in sync so I went for it.  The tan color went with everything, the brim was crisp, the size was right.  A perfect fit. I turned to my wife to show off the quintessential British driving hat.

“Is that to go with the Miata you bright home” She asked in reply.

I stopped dead in shock.  “You remember the Miata?”

“I remember everything about it.”  She answered.  “It was white, with a black interior and top.  It had a manual transmission and pop-up headlights.”

I couldn’t believe that she remembered that car so well. It was over eighteen years ago and I had the car for a total of twenty-five minutes.  Five of those were spent in the driveway.

“I remember the look of fear when you saw me behind the wheel.” I chuckled at the memory.

“It fit you too well.  A perfect fit.”

This wasn’t the only time a sporty, little, two seat, siren sang out.  Years later, two co-workers rushed to me, rapidly talking about some sports car.

“You gotta see it, Gene!  It’s so you!” They cried with such enthusiasm, they were almost shouting.

“Ok! Ok! I’ll check it out.”  I said, curious as to what was causing such a commotion.

When I reached my destination, an Austin “bug-eye” Sprite greeted me in all its crimson splendor.

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Another time, a friend, Jason, told me about two cars some guy had for sale.  One was a late 60’s Camaro while the other was, “Some British car”.

“You should buy it.” Jason said to me.  “He’s only asking $2,500 and it fits you.”

I didn’t have the funds for a second car and the insurance that goes with it, but I figured I’d check it out.  The “British Car” turned out to be a restored MGB decked out in Cobra Blue with white racing stripes.

MG MGB MkIII

I would be lying if I said I was never tempted.  Who wouldn’t want the romance of a private dance with one of these cars as your partner?  Their power isn’t high, so you can flirt at speed without being (too) illegal.  Their skinny tires and manual transmissions bring an intimacy that most have forgotten.  A decreasing radius curve up ahead? Heel, toe shift.  Heel, toe, shift.  Car and driver together in sounds and motion.  Untied in an intimate road dance.

A car like that would be fun, but I’d miss out on so many other moments that I’ve had with my trucks.

Such as all the animals I’ve brought to the wildlife rescue, or the camping I have done.  Fountains, flower beds, and furniture would not have found their way if not for the trucks I’ve owned.  I would’ve never made it to work during the Tropical Storms and aftermaths of Hurricanes without the clearance a pickup provides. Twenty three hours on the road would not have been as comfortable in either a Miata or MG as they were in the Silverado.  Thirty bags of mulch won’t fit into their trunks as they do in the bed of a Ranger.

Sports cars offer the love of machine and person; pickup trucks offer the ability to share the love with fried and family.

For me, that’s a perfect fit.

Thoughts of: Hurray for the Hobbit car or a bright little Sunbeam

Sometimes you discover lost treasures when you least expect it.  A few hours ago I was going through various posts from fellow bloggers over at the Trifecta Challenge when I was stopped dead in my tracks.  Imogen Shepard, author of Diary of a “Sensitive Soul’ , wrote about her Chrysler Sunbeam and the tragedy of losing that faithful companion.

Her words and the picture of that little Sunbeam made me think of all the small cars that have entered or influenced our lives in one way or another.  I remember my mother’s first and only work car, a Chevrolet Chevette. About the size of the modern day VW Golf, this car was rear wheel drive and had a very nice two tone paint job that made it look more expensive than it really was.  GM soon replaced it with the “J-car” platform known as the Cavlaier, Sunbird, Firenza, Cimmaron, and Skylark.  Chrysler modified the Sunbeam for America and named it the Omni and the Horizon.  Available in four doors only, they reminded me of the VW Rabbit more that the sleeker Sunbeam.  Ford had the mega hit of the 80s with its Escort and Lynx.  Honda had the Civic.  Mazda had the 323. Toyota had the Corrola.  Nissan had the Sentra.  These were not the first small cars in our country but they marked a time when the small car made a large statement to the world.  It was also a way for manufacturers to reach their federally mandated CAFÉ standards.

There is an inherent magic in these little cars that is hard to find in larger automobiles.  Their set weights and dimensions give them a playfulness that reminds you of a puppy more than an inanimate object.  Aimed at a younger market, the designers are free to play around and add personality to these vehicles without harming any set reputation.  Commercials were created showcasing the fun and free lifestyle of owning them.  Given everything, is it any wonder why so many people formed such personal bonds with these light, little cars?

Some of these cars had amazing lives as well.  Dodge used some of their Neons in a celebrity challenge in the Grand Prix circuit.  Used three cylinder GEO Metros and Suzuki Swifts became Group-A style rally cars in the Colorado mountains.  Other small cars skipped the cones fantastic in multiple autocrosses on weekends all over the country.  These little cars did more road dancing than most muscle cars did.  They got fewer tickets doing it, too.

Today the torch has been passed on to cars with names of Fiesta, Dart, Sonic, Accent, 3 series, and Fit.  They are still nimble.  They are still small.  They are still fun.  That’s the best part of all.

So take a moment and revel in the fact that the hobbit of the car world are still around to enchant and enjoy.

And thanks to Imogen and her Sunbeam for inspiring me to write this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts of: Randomness

It’s 10:15 and any chance of a cohesive story or editorial has gone down the road with House and Wilson.

So with that in mind, I am going to pull out a few things that have been bouncing around in my head.

First:  Why won’t this page reconnect my publishing to Facebook after I hit the refresh button?  I did it three times and then even logged out and back in to see if that would help.

Now that House has ended does FOX really think another “Doctor” show is a good idea right off the bat?  That’s like replacing a pet that died with one that looks exactly like the dead pet the very next day.  Bad call.

Google has made software that enables a car to drive itself so well that Nevada gave it it’s own license.  With that in mind:

  • Will a person ever have to get a license again?
  • Will it be ok to let the kid take the car to grandmas when the kid is only five?
  • How will cities and small towns make any money off tickets if all the cars are automatically driving the speed limit?
  • Will they do this to motorcycles and if so, will they be nothing but an over-glorified Segway?

Am I a bad person because I don’t care if I see the Avengers movie.  (X-Men fan)

Man, did I forget how much research is needed in writing a novelette.  (Gossamer’s Wing)  I’m split on two distinctly different plots and am bouncing them to see which one is more plausible.

I wonder how long it will take for me to find another TV show I’ll like.  Every year it seems to get harder and harder.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that the new Lone Ranger movie starring Jonny Depp is going to end up being “Pirates” on horseback.

Will anyone come out with a good Sci-fi tv series about humans exploring and developing the solar system with realistic technology.  (Not Warp Drive or Light Speed.  The part before that development.)

How many kids are going to think that Abe Lincoln really fought vampires?

Knowing what you know now, would you go back and change you life with the realization that you will lose the joy you have at this moment?

 

Thoughts of: My own “Top Gear” special

Have you ever seen an episode of Top Gear?  It’s a British car show that’s hilarious.  Well, most of the time.   Three guys try to do semi-serious car reviews and drive some ungodly expensive exotics on great destinations, but best part of the show come from their challenges.

A challenge during the regular season is to take a mundane used car and do some odd-ball thing with it.

For Example:

Buy a used van and start a moving business.

Buy a used midsized “safe” sedan and crash it into a barrier.

Buy a late Sixties sports car race against a modern economy car racer.  (MG verses a Focus with lowered suspension and bad paint job.)

They’ve also done some things with travel trailers that is best not mentioned here, but at mid-season or at the end, Top Gear goes on some magnificent adventures.

California to the Bonneville Salt Flats in American muscle/sport cars

Vietnam on motorcycles

South America in SUVs that were bought sight unseen on the internet.  (Kinda like on-line dating.)

It’s these adventures I’d like to emulate with my two buds.

One is my brother.  He’s a very accomplished guy who has traveled all over the country for his job and flies to England every so often with his wife.

The other bud is our friend, Bill.  He’s a guy we’ve known since 7th grade and still keep in contact with.

And here’s the challenge.  Trying to get us all to agree on something to do.

I’d want to do something wild like buy some small engine motorcycles and go through the Smokies with them.  Camp on the road side and eat from a can.

My brother prefers renting a mini clubman, staying at 5 star hotels, and eating at unique but trendy restaurants.

Bill would rather just stay at home and just watch it all from the computer.  A tree’s a tree after all.

Trying to find common ground and motivation for something of this magnitude is like trying to get congress to work.  Everyone had a great idea but can’t get the others to agree.

One day I’ll figure it out. Bill needs another great adventure in his life and I’m sure I can modify an itinerary to fit everyone’s tastes in one fashion or another.  (Side trips, places of interest, ect…)

As for the wives, I think that’s the easiest part.  What woman wouldn’t like a week off from her husband?

 

PS:  For all you T.G. fans, can you pick what host of Top Gear each of us would be?

Thoughts on Dreams

Do you dream?  Not at night but in and about your life.  Do you dream?

If so, you’re the lucky ones for there is evidence that some people don’t dream.  Worse yet, some are children.

On Wednesday, Sightsnbytes’Blog posted how he asked a ninth grade student body what were their dreams; what plans they had for the future; and how did they plan on attaining those dreams.  To his horror, he found out that they really didn’t have any plans for the future.  They didn’t dream.

This is horrible!  I can’t envision a worse situation.  Even a prisoner will at least dream of being free.  If you don’t dream, you don’t live.

It could be argued that ninth graders don’t really know what they want to do with their lives, but I’ll argue that the dream doesn’t have to be realistic and set it stone.  It just has to be a dream.

I can even tell you what some of my greater dreams were back in the ninth grade era.

  •  I wanted to be a rock star!  Journey was and still is my favorite band and I wanted to sing just like Steve Perry.  I played my records and tapes so loud and so often that I drove my brother to hate Journey with a passion that rivaled my love for them.

What happened to that dream?  I sang in class and in turn was introduced to madrigals.  I took that class for the next two years until cuts in the school funding killed it.

  • I wanted to travel to exotic destinations.  I was hooked on the long distance explorations that Gary and Monika of the Turtle Expedition and dreamed of going to places they wrote about in a modified four wheel drive pick-up with a slide in camper like they do.

What happened to that dream?  I took my first car, a 1983 Dodge K-wagon, from Detroit, Michigan to Binghamton, New York via the state highways and back through Canada.  I saw Niagara Falls three times in this car as well as the finger lakes and a final long trip to Florida with a stop in Nashville, Tennessee.

I took various other vehicles to other States and destinations, and I have owned two four wheel drive pick-up trucks with the dream of going to Baja one day.

  • I wanted to work for Car and Driver magazine.  What person wouldn’t want to get paid to drive beautiful fast cars in exotic parts of the world and write about the experience.  That doesn’t include the byproduct of becoming a road warrior/hero as well.

What happened to that dream?  I worked at a car wash where GM and Chrysler would send in their test mules for cleaning and to test the various door and window seals for leaks.  I was able to drive a Renault Twingo, a Cadillac Catera, and other cars before Car and Driver wrote about them in their magazine.

Later on I sold Saturns and was asked to help out at the Greenville, South Carolina auto show.  I did such a good job that the lady working the Saturn display with me offered me a job at the end of the show.  For some reason, my wife did not like the idea of me being on the road for six months with “Gorgeous” female models.  Go figure.

The point is, I had dreams and in one extent or another, I made them come true.  They may not have been exactly what I wanted but I enjoyed them.  And I haven’t stopped dreaming yet.

I dream of traveling more to the west coast of the country and overseas.

I dream of publishing that novel I wrote.

I dream of making this blog my career.

I dream of doing more, seeing more, getting paid more, and living life more.

Dreams are the beacon off in the distance that guides us to where we want to go.  Without them we are adrift on an uncertain sea, lost in the fog.

So I ask you again.  Do you dream?

Daydream 1. Still They Ride

Jesse arrived home after a hard day’s work.  With no one to greet him, he shuffled into the bathroom to shower the days grime off his weary body.  He looked at himself in the mirror.  Grey had replaced his dark mane and his taught body had surrendered to the unrelenting onslaught of age.  The stress from wielding the jack hammer for eight hours made its presence known with every grasp of the fork and knife.  Wincing in pain, Jesse looked out the kitchen window.  The fading grass and brown leaves were growing darker as the sun ebbed from the horizon.  Jesse’s face grayed with the knowledge that fall was drifting fast away, and that soon winter would show her dreary face.

“One last time.”  Jesse thought as he turned from the window.  He went straight into his closet, picked out a black T-shirt, Faded Jeans, Reeboks, his coveted leather jacket, and readied himself for the night.  Steadily, Jessi walked across the floor and opened a door next to the basement stairs. The chilled air kissed his face without notice as he flicked the lights on.  Jesse let his eyes take in the beauty before him.  Standing in all her splendor was the object of his desire.  A 1968 Dodge Charger R/T.  She wore a special red paint with a sharp black top, and just enough polished chrome to catch the light.  Jessi caught his breath and smiled.  She was his.  He let his hand gently glide along the shapely lines of her body.  As his hand reached the front fender, his eyes drifted to the subtle V-8 badge next to the eloquent turn light.  He couldn’t help but smile again.

“You ready dear?”  He asked softly as he opened the door to slide behind the wheel.  With a twist of his wrist the Charger rumbled to life answering a low, throaty “Yessss.” through the exhaust.  Backing out of the garage, Jessi headed west towards history.  Within fifteen minutes he arrived at his destination.  Woodward Avenue.  This was the hallowed hall of his youth.  Turning the radio to oldies 104.3, Jessi rolled down his window, and cruised north.  Jan and Dean’s “Little Runaway” contrasted with the view from the windshield.  Things were not the way they used to be.  Next to the bowling alley was a vacant lot where Ted’s restaurant once stood.  Jesse and his friends used to gather there every weekend and swap stories of heroic battles between cars or just to laugh at the other’s demise.  The cars were definitely different.  The Chargers, GTOs, Chevelles, and Torinos of Jesse’s youth were replaced by Eclipses, Civics, and Sentras.  Occasionally, a Mustang would roar by, but even they were of nineties persuasion.  Passing Ten Mile, Jesse noted that even the Big Boy was rather empty.  Nobody wanted to wait for their food anymore.  He knew that the kids today would be hanging out at Fourteen Mile.  That’s where the McDonald’s was.  Gliding into the lot, Jesse noticed the expression on the kids’ faces.  He could almost read their faces.

“Who is this old fart?”

“Does this old man really think he can compete?”

“Give it up!”

Jesse cruised slowly around the lot and stops at the exit.  He looked casually at the kids and dropped the hammer.  Smoke billowed from the tires as they screamed while futile scratching the pavement for traction.  With two long black streaks Jessi left the kids in a cloud of stench and soot.  Some stared in disbelief while others cheered on in pure rapture of the Charger’s song.  One kid stood up as if slapped in the face.

“Oh, Hell no!” exclaimed the kid as he dove into his ride and tore after Jesse.  Catching up to him the kid yelled, “What? You wanna make a move old man?”

Jesse looked over at the Mitsubishi 3000 GTX and replied, “I just thought I’d show you what a Real car was.  Not those plastic toys you drive now.”

“Oh, so you think you got something there!”  daunted the kid, “My chips got more power than your car.  You better take that thing home before you break it, old man!”

“This old man and this old car are way too strong for you kid. You should stay in your playpen with the other children.”

By this time the other kids at McDonald’s had crossed over to the median and were doing their best to goad the cars into a race.  Jessi used the commotion to his advantage.

“ You better look around, kid;” Jesse taunted the lad, “I’d hate to ‘Dis’ you in front of your ‘Dogs’”.

With a look of pure rage, the kid frothed back, “It’s on, old man!  I hope you’re wearing Depends ‘cause I’m gonna blow the crap out of you and your trash can”!

The 3000’s engine shrilled impatiently for the light.  The Charger’s engine barked back at the Mitsubishi, threatening to tear its head off.  The spectators howled and chanted at the warriors.

The light turned green.

The night air exploded in a sound of fury as the combatants launched their steeds into battle.  Side by side they raced off into the night.  Shifting into second, the Charger had so much power that she lost traction and begun to spin her tires.  The Mitsubishi’s all wheel drive dug in deeper as the kid shifted into third and overtook the Charger.  Jesse shifted into third and the Charger leapt forward, pinning Jesse into the seat as they surpassed the 3000 GTX.  With a howl of rage, the kid shifted from fourth to fifth and let all the horses free.  Jesse looked over at the kid and crunched into fourth gear.  The Charger surged forward, leaving the Mitsubishi in her wake.  The kid, knowing he has nothing left, lifted off the throttle, and gave the race to Jesse.  Jesse raised his arm in acknowledgement to the kid and rode away.  Late into the night, Jesse coasted the Charger into her bed.  He turned off the engine and just sat there for a few minutes, reveling in the moment.  He opened the door, slid out and sauntered towards the door leading into the house.  As his hand grabbed the knob, he paused for a moment.  He turned to give the girl one last look.  “Sleep well, my dear.” He said before turning off the light.