Saturday, July 02, 2011

...I can still remember my dad telling me that...

My Dad was a strong, logical character who worked hard all his life. I don't feel much of an emotional connection to him, but he was rugged, he was good-looking, and he was a man's man. He looked good, too, in a Clark Gable sort of rugged way. He was smarter than me, better looking than me, and he could do everything better than me. I didn't turn out the way he envisioned,and I know that always disappointed him, but I remember some of the little things he told me. For instance, when you put your wallet in your back pocket, put it in with the "wide" sides facing up and down; that makes it harder for pickpockets out there. And another thing he always told me was, "A Man Needs A Belt". And he always made sure I wore one. I wore a leather belt he gave me for close to twenty years; it finally tore itself apart last year, but I clipped off a segment of that belt and I'm keeping in my little "odds and ends" box.

What's left of
Dad's old belt
So I had to go out and get a new belt. Why? "A Man Needs A Belt", that's why. At a JC Penney's store, I finally found one long enough to go around my ever-expanding waistline. The Belt I bought was reversible; the clip on the belt was attached to another piece of metal, which meant the belt could be worn on the Brown side or the Black side; all I had to do was rotate the buckle. The entire buckle mechanism was clamped around a miniature steel cable going from end of belt to belt buckle. This morning I pulled it on, and the #$#$!!! buckle pulled loose from the belt and wouldn't snap back in! I had no choice but to get a new belt. I had to go beltless, hands in pockets, trying not to let my drawers drop down! Thankfully, the first place I went had belts in stock, including the same Reversible Belt that I was seeking to replace."Nope, ain't gonna get THAT ONE!" I thot, afraid that I might have to. After a while, I found a "Wrangler" (TM) belt that was long enough to fit, didn't have any reversible gizmos, just a good, old-fashioned belt made of Thick no-nonsense leather. No frills. Made in the USA. It set me back almost $20 bucks, but I've got a belt which I hope will last me the rest of my life. "A Man Needs A Belt", after all. All my life, every time I've buckled my belt, I can hear Dad saying that.

Another thing Dad used to tell me was to take care of my car. He would yell and yell at me about my car, and I guess when I'm yelled at, I'm less likely to do what the person doing the yelling wants me to do. Perhaps I need to have reverse-reverse psychological tactics used on me? Back in the days when he used to travel a lot, he could easily put 200,000 miles on a car in a couple of years' time, and he always kept the oil changed and the interior clean, showing some pride in his car. He bought me a really nice AMC Concord a couple of decades ago, and did I listen to his advice? No. And after 5 years, I'd run that car into the ground. It wouldn't run. It literally died. After that, I drove various little egg-beater-type import cars, each for a couple of years until all of them, too, died. Finally, years later, I was at the place where I could buy a nice car. I check the oil periodically, I treat the car gently, never gunning the engine, and maintain full-coverage with The Gecko.

This hasn't been an easy year. I've had to put in a new Water Heater in my house and I got a New Pair of Glasses, both of which managed to set me back $1500, which in turn made me have to cut waay back on other expenses until I'd financially recovered, so that I could spend money on something else besides food and bills. I finally "turned the corner" this month and found myself with Extra Money! Except there's no such thing as Extra Money, is there? So, yesterday I went down to the Car Wash to get the green algae-type substance that accumulates on my car every spring scrubbed off, and I decided to Fill Up the Tank, All The Way (something I haven't done for ages). Then I remembered that I needed an Oil Change. I was only 5,000 miles LATE! So I went and got that done. I spent close to $200 on my car yesterday, and I thought perhaps Dad would be proud of me for getting all that done.  

I bought my1999 Dodge Intrepid back in 2002. When I bought it, there were only 36,000 miles on it. It doesn't even have 90,000 miles yet. Way back when I bought it, I was thinking to myself, "this is probably the last car I'll ever have". I once heard an automotive show being broadcast, ironically, over the car radio, in which an expert said the most economical way to run a car is to drive it until it drops. It looks good, and it runs good, and you know, I'm proud of that. Dad knew what he was talking about, didn't he? And as the years pass, I feel like I understand him a little bit better. And I hope, wherever he may be, that he realizes that perhaps I'm not as bad as he might have thought.

I realize that I sound like a severe case of Arrested Development, especially since I'm only three years away from 60. I still feel like a little kid trapped inside an old body. Just as gullible, just as dumb as ever. I can still hear the yelling. I still feel all the put-downs. As fresh in mind now, as they were five decades ago. But hopefully I'm making progress. Hopefully there's hope...


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