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AnotherFall: AgingGratefully

" ... these are mostly still the good old days."

The Zoom Car's fifteen years old now, though we've only owned it for the last three. We bought it for quite a bit less than a song after its predecessor, a red Civic, was rudely rear-ended by a distracted driver in a big SUV. We decided to just go carless for a month or so before some friends announced that they'd decided to unload the husband's college car. I fussed over the decision for a week or more, ran those wheels down to my mechanic Tony, and, with his encouragement, we bit.

A year later, we had the engine rebuilt. Little thises and thats crop up every now and then, but overall, The Zoom Car has faithfully fulfilled her mission to provide cheap, reliable transportation. Sure, she stranded us up in Vale last summer, but that turned out to be a clogged air filter, caused by the shop which had not actually checked the air filter when they'd changed the oil the week before. I rather prefer the uncertainty an older car brings to our life, the possibility that a routine errand might just turn into an unplanned adventure.

This week, after not talking to the shop for four months over the air filter debacle, I swallowed my hurt pride and scheduled a checkup. I knew full well that this visit would be more than a quick confirmation that everything's just fine. They'd told me six months ago that the front end needed some looking into, and some oil seepage had started appearing on the otherwise pristine garage floor. When I switched into the studs, the tire guy remarked that the summer tires had worn unevenly, too, so I knew. I told Ace, the counterman at the garage, that I might be there to help him have a merrier Christmas.

This was a two call visit with an overnight stay. A car as old as The Zoom Car, even one this well-maintained, is just bound to feature complications. Parts rust together, refusing to separate even with hydraulic insistence and industrial-strength lubricants. Open the hood, and there's no telling what might come into focus, requiring a follow-up phone call to the owner. Overall, after the second phone call, I reflected that we're still far ahead of where we would have been had we bought a newer car instead of The Zoom, and just think of all the adventure we would have foregone.

The loaner car features heated seats, though the seats themselves seem to be too hard to please The Princess Muse. It's a quiet little thing, without studs, I can hear the radio and even hear myself thinking as I drive it, but it's gutless through the uphill curves and about as distinctive as a blue mohair blazer. It might as well be a Buick. I tried to imagine our life with a newer model, something The Muse often waxes doe-eyed about. One without the rust sideburns along both haunches. One that might turn the appreciative eye of someone other than a late-teenaged Street Luge skateboarder. I can't seem to muster The Muse's ardor for newer, though.

I suppose I do have a thing about buying new stuff. I have never been willing to buy furniture new, preferring estate sale pieces that, while perhaps needing some mending, come clearly already broken in, history included at no additional charge. Consequently, our furnishings rival an undergraduate's apartment, mix without matching, roughened with age and (mostly) admiration. They do not make stuff like it anymore. I figure if it's just gonna age anyway, I might just as well acquire it pre-aged if only to make damned sure it will hold up over time. It already has.

I doubt that any of my possessions have aged any more gracefully than I have. I imagine myself aging gratefully, instead. I'm the guy who still sees value in what everyone discarded long ago, a dumpster diver by temperament. I do not believe modernity to be any more comfortable than one of those Gawdawful Ikea couches, stylish but otherwise useless for the purpose for which I still believe couches were and still damned well should be intended.

The Zoom Car could have circled the globe ten times on that front end being repaired today, and might well make it around another ten with that still new-ish engine, the repaired front end, and periodic regular care. I visited a body shop this week, thinking of repairing those rusty spots, but the estimator convinced me that they pose no structural threat. I could have them sanded out, filled with body putty, and painted, or, she suggested, I could just do that myself. Restoring those two panels with new would total the car, and what would anyone gain from that?

The Zoom Car seems to get respect from everything on the road but those wide-assed duly pickups, but those lack self-respect, so I'm not grieving over their slights. It still moves like a youngster, smoothly accelerating through tight curves, even though I drive like an old Italian woman, lacking only a few pounds and a black dress to complete the charade. I believe that AgingGratefully requires stiff-arming any attempt at achieving even late-stage modernity. I am not of this age, which I sincerely consider to be latter days, in no need of even a fresh coat of paint. The world has become what the world is and I doubt I'll ever again anxiously await another newer model year. I pine after the past now, though I'm surrounded by dandy reminders; a representative, still in fairly good standing, of the way it was. For me, these are mostly still the good old days. spaghetti evening gowns

# AnotherFall # PureSchmaltz