Old cars, young kids and the price of gas
Due to the fact that I don’t own any teenage children, I’m not used to young people treating me like I’m a total moron.
The kid looked at me over the gas pump and didn’t bother to pretend that he gave a rat’s rump about the validity of my observation or, for that matter, anything else I might have to say.
So, keeping with my policy when dealing with those who don’t speak my language ” or worse, not interested in my opinions ” I repeated myself and spoke louder.
“I just paid more to fill up my truck than I paid for my first car; isn’t that amazing?”
By the expression on his face, it didn’t seem “amazing” was the first word that came to his mind.
But that is the beauty of getting older; you care much less about what people think of you. (Or perhaps you just don’t remember.) Knowing that deep down this young man secretly was interested in my observations, I tried a third time: “My first car, which I bought in 1969, was a 1959 Rambler. I paid $55 for that car. Today, I just paid over $60 to fill up my truck. Can you imagine that?”
I don’t fault the teen; I can remember when the boredom-shoe was on the other foot.
I had a grandfather who would bore me to death by recounting every automobile he ever owned; the cost and mileage of each car, when he bought it and when he sold it.
He had an idiot-savant-like memory of every vehicle he ever drove; about six or seven in all. When he was over 90, he often forgot my name and to zip up his fly, but he could recall that in 1952 his ’47 Dodge Coupe was blowing oil by the seals and he had to rebuild the engine at 63,000 miles. He sold that car to an Italian brick layer, who lived on Tufts street in Charlestown. He then would tell me the vehicle he replaced that Dodge with, the price, mileage and color.
Usually my Granddad would corner me and start into his automotive history just when I was trying to head off to someplace important, like to a nearby street corner to hang with my friends. I wanted to escape his monologue so badly my feet itched.
But my Granddad’s tedious rambling was totally different than the important message I was trying impart to the kid pumping gas next to me. What I was saying was really interesting.
Luckily there was another middle-age guy across the gas island who walked over and weighed in on the matter. He was about my age but looked older. His hair was grey and pulled back in a ponytail; he was wearing work clothing and an earring.
“That sounds about right,” he said. “Think about a house you would pay $500,000 for today. I bet that house in 1969 would go for less than $50,000; that’s an appreciation of 1,000 percent. Gas in 1969 was about 30 cents a gallon so the price of gas has kept its value about the same as real estate.”
He then asked: “Was that Rambler you owned the Ambassador with the push-button transmission? I had a ’63 Rambler Classic. Man, wish I still had that car.”
The old guy and I were so engaged in conversation about our first cars and the price of gas, homes and vintage baseball cards I barely noticed when the young kid snuck away and jumped into his car.
“One of the best things about getting older is you’re more interesting than most of the people you meet.”
I think Lee Marvin said that.
Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait to reach middle age to find myself fascinating. Now that I’m older, I’m even more interesting because I’ve gotten more adept at telling the same stories and jokes over and over again to a point where I’m very entertaining.
Young people might think I’m a bore, but my Granddad would be proud.
Jeffrey Bergeron under the alias of Biff America can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Biff’s book, “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic,” is available from local book stores or at backcountrymagazine.com.