Sunday, December 20, 2009

A New Century, Buick, that is

Yesterday turned out far more promising than I expected. I picked up dad to go to the car lot where I bought my Camry. The guy there, Mike, is a guy I know and trust, a real decent character. dad had set aside the time on Saturday, so we went. It was a bit of a bad plan on my part as I knew they didn't have exactly what he was really looking for in stock.

Pop is only going to be driving locally for the most part, so he just needs an older model in decent shape to get around in. The cars there were all too knew- and expensive for dad's real needs in this case.

Dad insisted on wearing his freakin' slippers, in spite of an impending snow storm.

"J&^#$ Ch&@#$, we're not gonna be out all day, is it gonna snow this hour?"

I don't really have an argument prepared for a guy who wants to wear slippers in New England in December, so I stood there dumbfounded. It was about 25 degrees out, and I was pretty sure, the fall coat and slippers were going to be inadequate, but much like when dad used to berate me for not dressing properly as a kid, my pleas for winterizing his gear usually meet with strong opposition and turn any event into a row.

"Okay," I replied cheerily.

"I mean, I'm going to be in the car, for ^&%#$'s sake."

"Good point, dad," I agreed, demonstrating to myself that I am finally learning to wave the white flag when facing many cannon."

We arrived at the lot and strolled around a bit. dad hadn't foreseen the ice patches, puddles and icy downgrades when he opted for the slipper approach, so this led us to several circuitous routes top look at vehicles I knew he wouldn't be interested in.

He did get a kick out of a PT Cruiser (to Debbie's dismay and my delight) but it was a newer model, and even the 2005 was way too pricey for dad's purposes. My friend promised the best possible deal, but when we sat with the owner, a young kid named Edwin, I knew based on experience that it would be a circle jerk with a higher price than the best price, then we'd have to leave, the price would be lowered, we'd still leave, then there would be phone calls.

Sigh. I hate car lots.

Mike called me after we left, irritated with Edwin and apologetic. He said he knew the price was too high. It didn't matter, that wasn't the right fit for dad anyway, I assured him.

I dropped dad off and picked up a sub from Harry's Pizza. My sister Deb called me en route to Pine St. and told me they had a Buick dad might like at a local dealer. When she showed up, we took off to see it, but never made it there. Deb suggested we stop by J&S Motors- dad's usual mechanic. They had put all the cars inside for the storm except two, one of which was a Buick Century exactly like dad's car, sans dents and miscellaneous paint scrapes.

It was immaculate inside. It was a 1998, with 123,000 or so on it- perfect for dad! It was also only 3,200 buckaroos, which was even better. I got the keys and drove it to Pine St top "surprise" dad. I am hoping to learn someday that dad isn't really all that fond of surprises. he was down the driveway, delivering candy to a neighbor. I waited for him to come up.

"What do you think, dad?" I said, expecting praise and perhaps even genuflection.

"It's fine," the old man mumbled, as if inspecting dish water to see if there was enough detergent mixed in.

"Get in dad!"

"No no no, I'm walking home," said the slippered one, as he navigated the ice up toward home.

"You like it?"

"Yeah yeah, I'll write him a check," he said as if stating the obvious.

Debbie made the mistake of asking dad if he liked the car again at home, which avalanched into what for me and Timmy would have been an hilarious tirade, but for Deb probably initiated trauma.

"Jes&%^ Ch@#$%, I love it, Debbie, it's perfect, it's gorgeous, it's the best f#$%@%# car I've ever seen."

I puzzled dad again today when I asked if he would perhaps like to drive it tomorrow before actually purchasing it.

"What the &$%# for?" he asked as if responding to the query- Would you like to dance around in a thong and dip your hat in pudding?

I hadn't really heard of someone buying a car without sitting in it when the car was, ya know, in front of them at some point.

"I 'm only going down town, I need to get around, CVS...&^#%$, I can COAST down there for &^$%^%$ sake. You drove it didn't you?"

"Yes, I did," I wisely played it straight, saving my smirky comments for the reproduction.

"All right then," he said, hoping I would some day have the intelligence of a lawn chair.

"Ok, dad," I said, editing the rest of it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dad's Car Finally Craps Out

Well, the beast served him well, in spite of my old man's fast, erratic, oblivious and somewhat generally dangerous driving, but dad's car is shot. The brakes went on him the other day on the way to a CVS run. Fortunately, it didn't happen on the way home, as the weight of the Whitman's samplers, excess toiletries (stockpiled for the grandchildren by all appearances) and stationery would like have had a similar on the Buick Century as the reaction to the payload of a trailer truck's cargo.

So yesterday I got a call from dad to help him take his car to the garage. After informing me that the brakes were gone, and he had stopped the vehicle by way of furious "pumping" of the brake pedal, he let me in on the plan to transport the auto.

"You can drive in front of me, and I'll go slow."

Okay... the man is 86, doesn't wear a seat belt, has no brakes, and a working definition of "slow" which roughly translates to: a rate of speed which allows pedestrians to dive to safety before impact.

"Geez, dad... what could possibly go wrong?" I wondered. The notion that he would be behind me, so I would likely be the car he collided with gave me zero comfort.

En route to dad's house for the old car transfer mission, I decided to sneak into the house, snag the keys and take the car in myself. I knew there would be repercussions, and I felt a little badly about leaving my step-mother Louise to handle my father's inevitable tantrum when I altered the plan, but I felt assured that even the fallout from this would be far lass traumatic than seeing dad's photo on FOX news as the latest nut to plow through a crowd of people, though the audio portion of the telecast probably would have provided some of the best Reality TV in history. I can only imagine dad's rendition of the story, complete with a description of an elderly woman he mowed down as a "moron doddling around with a walker in the road" whilst demanding she finance his car's repairs after being arrested for public stupidity.

It was a nice day, so I strolled back to Pine St., ready to face the fire. You had to see him to appreciate it, but here dad sits...on the couch, still wearing his hat and coat. The look on his face was priceless, I had seen it ten thousand times if I had seen it once. it said, quite unmistakenly, "why do I have to deal with morons?" Of course, the look was framed with the slightest hint of a smile.

"I have an explanation, dad."

The look didn't change, except the smile slowly disappeared. I explained I was worried about him cracking his ribs if the car wouldn't stop, or God forbid, if the airbag went off, it might kill him. he seemed to take it pretty well.

I said something like, "you look a little worried dad, you all right?"

Without missing a beat, and genuine concern he says, "Yeah, I was worried because some moron was driving my car around with no brakes."

To that I conceded that if anyone were qualified to drive that car without brakes, it was him. he hadn't threatened using the brakes in years.

To that we all had a pretty good laugh.

Today he got the word that it would cost more to fix than the car was worth. I looked for a suitable replacement, which dad would like in place by last Thursday, if possible.

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