|My daughter's Honda is covered to protect from the rain and elements.|
"Man! Her owner has babied her. That car is in puurrrrfffeccct condition," I whispered, not worrying if anyone heard me talking to myself because everyone else in the parking lot was saying the same thing, talking to themselves too.
My father-in-law's Lincoln was not in the parking lot yet so I walked over to the owner and complimented him on his Chevy and said something about his car and me having the same birth year.
"Take a look inside," he invited and I stepped off the curb carefully, with my crutch. The Chevy even smelled NEWish, though I know for five bucks inside the store one could purchase a bottle of 'NEW' spray; but still!!! I was jealous.
"Was my grandfather's car," he said.
"You've really taken care of her, she is beautiful," I replied, afraid to leave a smudgy fingerprint anywhere on the vehicle, especially since I'd been wiping my runny nose on my wrist as I hobbled along the way to the store in the damp, drizzly cold.
"Yeah, she's fun to drive but a lot of work." He emphasized the term 'a-lot' with extra punctuation. "I've had to rebuild the engine twice and she's not used to the ethanol in today's gasoline, but she sure is fun to drive. Keeps me busy too, keeping up with all that needs to be regularly done to keep her in shape."
I thanked the gentleman, who appeared to be about ten years older than me and walked into the auto parts store to wait for PeePaw.
After helping my father-in-law pick out a couple of car covers for my brother-in-law's cars (my brother-in-law is in the Army Reserve), I made my way over to the adjacent CVS store for a small pack of salted pumpkin seeds.
Today I am paying for eating the salted pumpkin seeds but yesterday they sure were tasty. Salt and I do not get along. My heart and blood pressure hate salt. My tongue loves salt. It is a constant battle with no clear winners.
A mile with a forearm crutch, bottle of water and small pumpkin seeds is tough if you are trying not to look like Hansel in the fairy tale. Someone could have clearly tracked me with a bright white salty pumpkin seed laying here and there on the side walk every five feet or so, but the herd of squirrels running behind me quickly took care of the trail's evidence.
Anyway, I'd torn the pumpkin seed bag the wrong way when opening the plastic sack. Trying to keep the slick seeds in the sack and not emptying into my lint lined pants pocket, trying to hold the ice cold sloshing water and trying not trip over my forearm crutch was a challenge. I told myself, "this is true disability, Kevin," and immediately felt better after hearing the words of pity.
But in-between the seeds and sips of water I had about forty five or fifty minutes to think about the Chevy.
And it hit me! Maintenance and keeping up with any car is so important to making the vehicle last. Back when I was driving I'd jump into the car each morning and expect it to race down the street, clean itself, change it's own oil and fill it's own gas.
But if I'd taken an hour or so each day (maybe two) and pampered my first car, a 1967 Ford Mustang GT, three speed on the floor with bucket leather seats and a 289 V-8, well, my very-hot car might still be around, though without my license it wouldn't be fun as often.
Sheeeez. An hour or two each day? Who has time for that kind of maintenance and the Chevy owner did say that even with all the daily maintenance he still had to replace the engine twice. Yet he did have a beauty of a car.
So another dome light clicked on above my head as I continued along the sidewalk. We tend to treat our bodies (I am speaking about myself now - I know you out there are better disciplined); we tend to treat our bodies like many of us have treated our cars. We expect performance without the truly needed maintenance.
We wake up first thing in the morning with a rush of adrenaline, without a prayer or any meditation. We jump and run without warming up or stretching or even bathing and brushing our teeth. We deny ourselves a daily buff out or vacuum and fill our tanks with gummy regular instead of premium, organic high-test or even clean water. Our tires are almost flat and our carburetor is clogged.
And so our bodies, like our old autos develop problems and we no longer look like the pretty Chevy with the curvy trunk and shiny headlights.
Instead we find ourselves, like our cars;
- leaking fluids everywhere. Drop by drop first, then dribbling everywhere we park;
- our electrical system starts to crackle and sometimes completely short circuits;
- the dang spare tire gets soft, smushy and flabby from just sitting in the trunk;
- our once snazzy upholstery becomes faded and wrinkled;
- and our used to be silent muffler, toots, booms and blasts when we least want or expect it to;
- as our young paint job fades and spots begin to appear we plaster ourselves with Armor All, and the silicone really helping for a short time;
- our cloth covered areas develop a really odd smell, something like a cross between stale sweet potato fries and fermented green tea;
- the dang struts squeak, sound boinky and have forgotten that old smooth glide;
- fuel injectors act like they are clogged with carbon deposits from years of cheap gas;
- old nuts either rust up or break and fall off;
- and we can't keep the dang rear mirror up, the thing keeps falling down in our laps when the car hits a bump;
- that once polished gear shift knob has lost it's original luster and becomes worn from being pulled and pushed back and forth every day;
- and finally, our dome light becomes dimmer and dimmer with each passing day.