Monday, November 16, 2009

The Golden Westfalia

My father had a soft spot for old cars.

Ok, what he really had was a lack of ability to let himself buy a new car. Moreover a functional car. One that wasn't seemingly held together with duct tape and solder and that didn't cause him to continuously curse and get louder and louder in that way that only a stoutly little Italian man could.

They weren't really old like those precious antiques people collected. They were cast offs. The unwanted really. More like those cars that were invented and then when the makers realized they were crap and they were on the brink of death, close to driving their last fuel-guzzled road, my father somehow found them.

In dark alley's in random places. In people's side yards, unwanted and lonely, he found them. Like the Pied Piper of the Vehicularly Deceased, he found them. The old and the rusted. The dented and odd colored. He would use them, abuse them and then I would inherit them.

It was a strange thing really. The evil vortex in my driveway that killed these cars. It was likely a mercy killing in a way. Those poor unfortunately souls, put out of their misery by simply coming into contact with me.

Which of course became instantly my fault. Naturally.

It wasn't the fact that these beauties were left abandoned far before my father found them. Or that they likely required hundreds if not thousands of dollars in work before that, no of course that couldn't be it. It couldn't be that my father usually cavorted around in them as work vehicles, traipsing from jobsite to jobsite, parking in the unpaved and nail-covered places a contractor generally frequented.

It couldn't have been the sawdust covered pieces of wood and tools, or the extra few 100 pounds or so they wrought. No.

It was naturally all my fault. I had the Golden Touch you see. But alas, it wasn't me, it was that Evil Vortex.

And yet, of all the 13 cars (yes I am on Lucky 13 folks) I have gone through, the one I did not inherit was his last. That convertible van. That Volkswagen machine that wasn't just a car, oh no. THIS, this was also a camper. Dirty and scarred. It came fully equipped with curtains and pull out bed. With stove and mini-fridge. A pop-up top for comfort. A contractors dream.

And for the past week, this car, this multi-faceted driving machine has haunted me. As I commuted to work I have seen not one of these Bad Larry's no, but 3. This boxy mind-boggler etched with Westfalia has been following me. This gold machine, a time machine straight out of 1985 has been bringing me memories of my father for the past week.

Memories of him attempting to put Dylan's infant car seat in the back bench, what seemed like miles from the driver's seat in the back to take him places. Images in my head of my child flying through mid-air in the back of a camper, and cajoling my father for ever buying such an impractical car.

So now, as I sit every morning in my bumper to bumper commuter traffic, as I stop and go with oncoming cars merging from on-ramps and painstakingly make my way to work in the morning, I now find myself on the lookout. I look for that one vehicle that rises up a little higher than the others, that looks a little boxier than those newer and sleeker streamlined hybrid cars. I look for that memory on wheels, and maybe, just maybe I hope to catch a glimpse of short little Italian man with glasses and a mustache, with a stain on his belly from his morning coffee (milk,no sugar) dripping down between his fashionable combination of T-shirt, belt and suspenders.

So thank you aimless strangers, thank you for giving me my dad, if only for a moment, and if only in memory, in traffic on my morning commute. You may have bad taste in cars, but you've given me something I've needed for a long, long time. A piece of my dad, and of course;

The Golden Westfalia.

1 comment:

  1. Haha my dad collects old cars...but he generally likes the ones that would be classics...the problem is that they're all PROJECT cars...2 mustangs to piece together to make one, a bronco, an old "street rod", an old farm truck, and an old corvette...not to mention we each have our own daily drivers that aren't new by any means...

    Good ole cars! :)


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