Itches

September 12th, 2011

I keep referring to it like it’s a “mid-life crisis.”

But I think there is something about it that makes it different.

Hmmm…how to put this in a context and background in less than 25,000 words…

My wife wants to have another kid. We have tried for 10 years and it’s produced nada. And I am kind of beyond caring or wanting that at this point. Accidents can happen, but I am not planning my life around it or doing anything to really try, per se. Wife is not happy with this approach.

At the same time, my job stuff is really sucking. (Can I just put a giant blow up symbol over that?)

But we both have itches. She wants a second child; I want a more secure job. It’s a chicken and egg problem. (Which is actually funny if you think about it. Ova and…oh, never mind.)

So, I was thinking…what am I best at? I am best at getting elected to something and managing it. Seriously…I am really, really good at politics. Whether it’s high school, or college, or the airport, or a foundation…I can get elected, manage, and get out before anyone thinks poorly/greatly about the fact I did stuff they loved and hated…but I have left everything better than I found it.

So that’s MY itch.

If my wife’s itch is another kid, mine is running for a bigger office. These are the great equalizers. She does not want to help me run at this point, and I’m not sure I want to help raise another kid from scratch.  We both have itches that aren’t getting scratched.

Here’s the thing: I think we’re both coming at each itch with the same resolve and I bet that she, as a mom, would be a rockstar to a new baby. I also think I’d be great as an elected official. But maybe that’s just not in the cards. Or maybe it is. That’s the weird time in our lives right now. We have to face the moment of “what are we now that we’re grown up?”

It’s kind of the dog catching the bumper in life and marriage.

(See, that’s funny, too, because the dog would catch the car, lick his balls, and scratch an itch.)

Day 30 of planning and tweaking…and splainin’

August 8th, 2011

Everyone assumes that if I was going to do a two-week Panama coast-to-coast cruise, I would do it with my wife.

Let me explain this as well as I can…she wasn’t interested in how I was doing it for all the years I pushed for it. Frankly, I just wanted an inside cabin and I would eat buffet food for two weeks. I was not picky.

She wanted nothing to do with cruising at all. It involves eight “sea days,” for one…in the volatile part of the spring. I don’t think this a big deal, but it kept coming up and it kept coming up.

So, a few years ago, Pilar said she was fine if I found somebody else to do it with. And me, taking that literally, sent out an e-mail to about 200 people just asking if “anybody” wanted to split the costs of going through the Panama Canal with me. I only got one bite…my wife.

She looked at the e-mail list and started naming people that under no circumstances I was going to live with on a cruise ship for two weeks (female), or that she trusted would actually bring me home alive (male). So it was back to the drawing boards…and waiting another year.

The next time, I had her approve a list of people that I could ask to do it with me. And I got her to approve a budget.

Nothing. I couldn’t find anyone.

Because of work and travel and stuff, a couple of more years went by, and I said, “How about if you go on a cruise and see that you really have nothing to worry about because of how little time you spend in the room and when you do, even after a week, they get on your nerves.

This was basically the “Hey, you won’t even want to spend two weeks with me when you see the whole set up, and understand more about how cruising works because there is so much else to do. Let’s go to Alaska.” She agreed, and the next year (July 2011), we did it.

Only I ran into three snags by the end of that trip:

(1) We got an upgrade to a two-bedroom suite that was HUGE. So much for living together with three of us in close quarters. We even had a butler and steak for breakfast every morning with a private pool. That, THAT, is not how I picture cruising. But that wasn’t my big problem…

(2) She saw how small the regular staterooms were and got freaked out that I would ever share that size of a room with any other woman, no matter how many beds it had. So I needed a new tact and needed to negotiated more and fast. While she still liked the cruise and also had an opinion…and I could buy a downpayment in the lobby for Panama at the cut rate.

(3)…well…before we get to three…

I asked her: “Would you ever go on a two-week cruise either in April or September with me the next two years?”

“No.”

“Can I go on a two-week cruise in the next two years because it’s been bugging me for more than 20 years and I really want to do it?”

(Insert many quick things that make me a good husband because I never do them, and husbands of people we know have for a lot sillier reasons.)

“Yes.”

“Should I just go by myself?”

“No, that wouldn’t make sense for safety.”

(Breakthrough moment.) (Hiding being internally suddenly giddy.)

“So can I ask anyone that you know, male or female, to go with me?”

“As long as you have two rooms and it’s the same as what we’re in now.”

BINGO!!!!!!

That was the last Friday night of our Alaska cruise.

Now, I have this idea that people who climb mountains or run marathons have this complete sense of purpose when they “break through the wall” of exhaustion vs. purpose. I had that for the next 48 hours.

Now, here’s the thing…I needed to get this figured out and sealed quickly, because you can’t get the cool rate once your cruise is over. I knew more about who I didn’t want to ask than who I did. So I started doing mad e-mails to my friends, pleading a case again. The problem was, I did them all from my cell phone to save money, and for 36 hours, I had no idea none of the e-mails had gone through until we got to Victoria for four hours.

DOH!

I needed somebody Pilar wouldn’t flip out about, but who wanted to do it — I mean was really motivated for it because, ummm, it is a pretty epic trip — and who I was pretty sure I’d known long enough that we could like each other and hate each other and it wouldn’t ever matter much during the two weeks because there was a bigger purpose.

So, I’m sitting there in a coffee shop on a Saturday late afternoon, thinking “Who?” I have about an hour left, knowing that if I don’t have something soon, my Panama Canal trip is at six to eight years away. (I am not exaggerating on that.) I could taste coffee in Cartegena. But NOBODY was responding as I started trying to send a second batch of e-mails.

And, here was the thing: I couldn’t just mass e-mail because I was in pretty please mode! I needed to personalize this and really almost beg.

I pretty much gave up.

So I logged onto FB just to see what had happened in the week I had been gone…

And this is how stupid I am. Or how non-FB I am. Or was. Or something. DOH! DUH! FB! I have friends on FB!

Fifteen minutes before I really needed to be walking super fast to the dock from The Empress for the last leg to Seattle…

So I made a very quick list in my head of which people were my FB friends that I would bet on having a good time for two weeks sharing a cabin one cruise through the Panama Canal. (I am a super lucky guy, because, basically, almost everyone of my 40-some-odd friends was on that list. Sorry sister-in-law and et al that are either pregnant  or have kids less than one, etc.) Once I had the list figured out…

I started staring at the screen. I was the only one on FB. I decided I was going to just ask as they pop up in order.

And I did. First my brother-in-law…whom I have cruised with before. No dice. “Too long.”

Second, my friend Brian. “No, I have to be around for the kids and school.”

Five minutes to go…

Kim’s name popped up. So I am thinking…

I’ve know her 20+ years. I like her. We have fought in the past. We have a weird synergy of shared pasts. She’s friends with Pilar on FB. We probably would like the same things on shore. She drinks so there is none of that caring about how many beers I have when we’re at sea. She’s probably smarter than I am.

I mostly just had Canal Fever. I was being infected by the same thing that has crawled into the heads of French engineers, American Presidents, West Indians, Panamanians…I just wanted to get through the damned canal. Screw all the reasoning. I was fighting my own ismuth and I have been since I was 10…

So, I asked.

She said yes.

(3) I DID NOT SEE THAT ONE COMING WITH TWO MINUTES TO GO! Shit.

Kim and I finalized all the pleasantries and then I was, uh, to say the least, panicked. I needed to get a room for the cruise so when I told Pilar back on board I had a plan and it fit all of her criteria, and now I am going to go swim laps in the pool because I’m so happy…see you in Seattle…and don’t ask me any more questions and I really am trying to look like it’s no big deal…

Here’s something I hadn’t thought of until this very moment

There were no rooms with two bedrooms available for that cruise at the moment.

OMG! None. Well, there was, but it was like $25,000 or something.

Shit. Again.

So I am briskly walking back to the Norwegian Pearl. I can see it getting closer and closer.

My legs are kind of rubbery. I know Kim’s good for it. And I have a simple part of the criteria I can’t deliver on at the moment for Pilar, but I pretty much had someone who was going to do it with me and help pay. Whattodowhattodowhattodo…

I am not very proud of this next thing. And I hope everyone that reads this understands it takes a big man to admit it. I came up with a plan to stall. And maybe lie just a little, tiny bit.

I hate the fact I did this. The next thing I told Pilar was technically not true when I told it to her back on the ship: “It’s all set and it meets your criteria exactly.”

And maybe the other two or three times I said it in the last month while I called every day waiting for someone to cancel.

The thing is, I had an out in my head…maybe…if a two-bedroom didn’t show up soon: I would just cut Kim to the wind and eat my airfare to Miami out of my personal budget. (Sorry, Kim, but that’s what was the plan in my head walking up the gangplank….er, ramp, to the ship.)

I feel bad about that…but sometimes you can’t be literal. And you get Canal Fever and you start thinking of a plan before you walk up to the dock…

Here was what I thought I’d do…

(1) Tell Pilar that it was all set that we would have the exact same cabin with two bedrooms. (Now (a) I had no freaking idea how much that would cost or (b) if one would even become available.)

(2) Get the airplane tickets to Miami bought and paid for because, for both Pilar and Kim, I could make the “good money after bad” argument if the cabin I got wasn’t up to par for either of them.

(3) Get some cabin that had a whole bunch of beds and some privacy. Any cabin that sounded like it was big. (Seriously, I am walking to the dock and this is my plan. Feverish. I was seeing tsetse flies.)

(4) Buy the first two bedroom cabin I can get my hands on when it happens.

(That was a month ago. The next installment will be about reactions to the overall plan in the meantime.)

But I am true to my word…finally, Saturday night, a two-bedroom suite became available and I got it. The only little white lie I ever told to Pilar was that I had the room a month before I had the room. It just took a month longer. But I apologized profusely and came clean about that, too. I think I will be forgiven…I wouldn’t be doing this if my wife didn’t know, over the course of the last 20 years, I push the envelop at times. About a lot of stuff.)

Canal Fever. It has made men do stupid things for almost 150 years.

 

 

Friday Night Lights…

August 6th, 2011

The high school football team I played for, the Bethel Braves (Spanaway, WA), are playing the Permian Panthers on Friday night September 2 in Odessa, TX.

I want to go. I have never seen the movie or an episode of the TV show. But I read the book 20 years ago…and I played for the team that’s playing them, and I am kind of primed up at the thought.

 

You might be my Chevy Citation

August 1st, 2011

You know how you get a question out of the blue and you just answer it like there is some impulse to give an answer?

The classic for me was when someone asked me what my first car was and I said, without much hesitation, a 1966 Chrysler 300.

It solved the question and sounded reasonable. But it always nagged me because I know, it’s not really true. It was a 1979 Chevy Citation. I even knew it when I said it, but it disposed of the question.

So I was talking to a friend recently that I met through work and we were talking about Facebook and business contacts and friends. This woman is about half my age (aren’t they all) and she was curious about who I thought my “best friends” really were.

“When did you feel like you were meeting your best friends?”

(Can I just do an aside here…this woman born in the 1990s was talking to me like I was born in the 1940s or something. I’m not THAT old to be giving sage advice or anything. Grrrrr…)

I gave a 1966 Chrysler 300 answer and said, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” I LOVE that quote. She was not familiar, by the look on her face.

And I kind of do believe the quote sometimes. Like I think my 1966 Chrysler was my first real car; even though I know it’s not. It just easily quotes a simple pop culture answer, only “Stand By Me” references to an early 20-something ain’t pop culture.

But here’s the thing when I was thinking about it, as it nagged me: I do still have my 1966 Chrysler since I was 14 and I love it. I invest it in now. I tune it and tweak it and take it from place to place in my life. I have done that for 25+ years. But other cars have come along.

Now I was really thinking about this…this is all happening while she is thinking we are having a mild and casual conversation and I am wondering about the meaning of life.

When do I feel like I was meeting my best friends?

“Was it in high school or college or later?” she continued.

She was asking a fairly deep question there about growing up and aging and life that deserved some super deep answer. Or something better than me popping off a quote from Richard Dreyfus in a Spielberg movie about nostalgia and a dead body.

So I dug deep into a combination of memories:

I once asked my dad who his best friend was. And he said “Any of the ones that I like and can trust. Easier to just be equal.”

I know I was in elementary school because we were sitting in the parking lot in his Rambler after class at the junior high.

And, I thought of my grandpa who always got asked which of his thousands of cars was his favorite, and he always said, even to famous people, “They are like my grandchildren…I can’t just pick one.”

So, I thought, I was was being kind of sage when I said, “Aren’t you more grownup than needing a best friend?”

NAILED IT!

It didn’t really answer the question, per se, but it was a pretty pithy, suave answer. (I thought.)

On the inside…I was thinking about the fact that I have a piece of every car I have ever owned somewhere as a souvenir and I take them around in boxes and I have incredible memories about them all. I love my friends more than my cars…but the same holds true to everyone I have ever called a friend. I have a little piece of it all the time. They’re all my best friends.

I was thinking I had tossed it back perfectly…

And then she said…

“Well, isn’t your wife your best friend?”

Shit.

That’s a good comeback you smart-assed little whipper snapper.

(Pause for a moment where I realized I was pretty much having a marriage-type discussion and I didn’t even realize it. Crap. Yes…sweat is on the brow. I am trapped. I think the room is getting smaller. Rapid breathing and the water line is getting very high all of the sudden.)

It’s a great point, though.

My wife is not my “best friend,” if I really think about it. She’s something more important and on a super bigger duper scale than friendship. She’s my, ummm…wife. My spouse. We are not friends. We’ve been together more than 20 years…but we’re not friends we’re “us.”

Now my mind is racing. And the super pressure is on because, during this completely inappropriate work conversation other people are getting big ears. Remember…this ALL happened in about two minutes and I am so twisted by my own mid-life issues I can’t even remember what the original question was all about in the first place!

The co-worker smiled and said: “You really do love all your friends don’t you. You and your grandfather were a lot alike. But you love your family more. And your wife is different because she is more special.”

(Can we be on a sidebar conference here: There are arguments to be made about this and that in his 80+ years. For the record.)

I just nodded, though, and we went on with our business.

 

 

 

 

Dear Bruce…

July 25th, 2011

It’s been just over a month since Clarence Clemons died.

I was thinking about it today…what are you going to do?

But actually, I was thinking about how hard it all must be even four or five weeks later. You probably have no idea.

My suggestion…go acoustic and just pop up wherever.

 

The Ditch

July 25th, 2011

My great grandmother had a completely over-hyped impression of my abilities. She would give me gigantic books and old coins and civil war doo-dads and books and more books, and more weird knick knacks that she always said, she’d “know I’d appreciate.”

The fact was, I did grow to appreciate them. I read the books. I learned about the artifacts and coins. And, you know, it was actually kind of interesting. I read Sandburg’s Lincoln, well, two and and half volumes of it, before I was 12. (Honestly, Volume I and I didn’t agree until about half way through.)

But the book she gave me of which I have never forgotten was “The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal.” It was written by David McCullough in 1978. I think I was about 14…so my great grandma would have been around 86 (she lived by herself into her 90s, only to die in a kitchen grease fire baking chicken).

What I remember is the way she explained why the Panama Canal was important.

Let me digress…

My great grandma was awesome at this type of story telling when she was on her game. She taught me all I needed to know about faking things in Scrabble into her late 90s. Her dog was named Oggie (even the next dog, and the dog after that), and she was as tough as sandpaper about some things.

So, back to the Panama Canal…

She told me the story from her perspective…

Theodore Roosevelt was the greatest president that ever lived. The only great feats of anything were because of Democrats, she said. And (now remember this is the 1980s, so we had put a man on the moon and won two world wars, etc.) “he made that Panama Canal happen before I got married.” (Actually, no, but close…she got married in 1917, and the Canal was completed in 1914.)  She declared it was still more important than anything else that has happened in her lifetime. I mean, this was a passionate rant that I listened to…nothing was more important than the Panama Canal. And (as she called him) “T.R.” was the last great POTUS.

But I won’t bore you with the whole discourse. She was pissed off that it all went to hell when Woodrow Wilson got into WWI and sent her husband off to Europe. And the last great president was T.R. because of the Canal.

(I just saved you about 45 minutes of her diatribe…)

But the gist was this: The Panama Canal was the greatest thing that had ever happened and great things only happen under Democrats. And she didn’t vote for another Democrat until Johnson. But she never voted, ever, ever, ever, for another Republican…because Wilson promised to stay out of WWI. (Actually, it’s funny as I type this, because it might have been around January 1986 when I had this conversation with her, because I remember that she said Johnson wouldn’t have let the space shuttle blow up…but I digress.)

Anyway…I read the book. I’ve read it twice since then. I even just bought the post-hand over edition to see how that played out.

I had to see it.

There are easy routes to this. I had my chances. I could just figure out how to skim off a business trip and pay my own dime and be in Panama City and take a tour boat through the locks.

But no. I wanted to, as a friend of mine said, “Do it like it was meant to be done” and go from one coast of the United States to the other. I have read the books, I know the history. Heck…you can stream it on Netflix with a PBS special.

In my head, I checked off the other stuff in the meantime. Man-made icons of the modern world. I went to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge. I took a train across the country. I went down in the London sewer system. And I’ve been inside the Hoover Dam (pre-9/11, of course).

So about five years ago, I really started to push on this. My wife had no interest. In fact, no one had any interest.

Basically, it’s 14 days and nights on a giant cruise ship with me going from one coast to the other. And to make it work, we’ll just have two twin beds with a couch in between and a shower in the bathroom.

But I was serious about this.

And here’s were it gets me. My grandma said that the only people she had ever met which had been though the Panama Canal were soldiers. She hoped people would someday go through it just because it was “neat.” (Her exact word.) In grandma’s head, T.R. was the reason Woodrow Wilson didn’t screw the country up too badly, because people came home faster from the war.

So I asked around. And I asked some more. I even had a little savings account. I was going to go through the Panama Canal from one U.S.A. coast to the other because it was  ”neat.”

This went on for years.

And then, one day, I was chatting with a friend and I asked, “You want to take a two-week trip through the Panama Canal?”

“Sure.”

“How about September?”

“Doesn’t work for me.”

“April 15?”

“Sounds good. Let’s do it.”

It took as long as it took you to read that. I spent the next 10 minutes doing all of the “are you sure” stuff. Discussing costs, blah blah blah…and we were on.

Within 48 hours I had our room from Miami to LA on April 15, along with flights.

I’m scared as hell…I won’t lie. Two weeks is a long time to share three beds and a cabin. But I’m not going to war…and I like my travel mate. An old friend and foe that has known me long enough to know me long enough.

I know there are a whole bunch of great things that will happen on this trip. I am going to see stuff in Colombia and Costa Rica and Mexico, etc…but I will think of my great grandma and the reason I really, really have always wanted to do this.

Just because it’s…

“Neat.”

 

Good bye my loves…sorta

July 23rd, 2011

Now, you have to understand something about me and books.

I don’t just love them, I have surrounded myself with them. I buy books all the time. I own a bar code scanner. I have built two different rooms around being libraries for books. And then I have hundreds and hundreds of books in boxes.

I specialize in world almanacs, history books, biographies…pretty much all things really old and non-fiction. But I have some kind of cool Zane Grey first editions and old Beverely Cleary and Madeliene L’Engle…etc…I pick and choose my fiction. But I read them all.

Here’s the thing…I like reading a books like I like reading newspapers. I want to carry it around and plow through it. It could be a 150-year-old history book recounting the Civil War and I will read it. I don’t sit and and think about getting a good deal, or if I damage it more, or any of that…I just love books.

(NOTE: I have the same attitude with cars. I just love the history and the feel and just driving them…if you bump them up a little while you enjoy them, oh, well. You never be reckless with them, but enjoy them. I feel bad, for instance, for any person that ever puts a book in a case to “seal its condition.”)

So I am up in the middle of the night because I feel like I just stabbed one of my best friends in the back…I bought a Kindle.

I even had two beers of courage to do it.

Here’s how it came about…

I am doing a trip this next spring and I started doing research. I found all of the stuff in my library that I needed to read. So then, I looked at Amazon to see if there was any new stuff, since, in this particular case, things had changed recently. There were a number of them. So I bought a book. It cost $20 plus tax. (I had something else I needed in my “want box,” so I got the free shipping.)

It arrived and I realized…this is sick. It was 700+ pages and weighed about four pounds. It’s not collectible. I only want to just read it. I want to be able to refer to it, too. (I have 30 days to return it…which is really important now that I can’t just take it back to Border’s.)

Here’s what I thought…this same book is going to cost $1 in about five years at some library sale. Why am I doing this? It’s no first edition Zane Grey baseball book or something. Or a 1929 World Almanac from the New York Herald Tribune.

I just wanted to read the book.

So I called my local librarian and she said, very kindly, that they are on a 12-24-month cycle for putting new books into circulation. You see where this is going…

I wanted it now. Now.

So then I fudged around on whether to buy a $189 Kindle or blowing my whole savings on an iPad for hundreds more. That was a short but intense debate. I love my iThingy Laptop…it fits in my coat when I want it to, and I have no complaints, and I still think the iPad is a toy. (Hey, I just noticed, this is a MacBook Pro.) Then, I got down to business looking at the Kindle…

I am skeptical.

But I was also thinking in terms of reading a book a month for three year. Let’s figure $200 for the Kindle and $10 per book. That’s $560. Now let’s figure the same cost of the hard cover at $20 a book (generous) and that right there, without tax or shipping or time, is $720.

But I didn’t budget for this, and I was hemming and hawing and blah blah blah…

And then I saw a great story on CNN about a study on the human brain. And they had the author, and I was really into it…but I didn’t have a pen handy…

And then he came up again on a radio station…I was driving.

I still can’t tell you the name of the damned book.

And I am not sure if a Kindle will solve this…but I want to read the brain book and I bet that I could find it quickly if I could just search for it.

My point of that? I jumped the shark.

I was not going to wait around for the library to stock it. And when I did find it on Amazon it was $30 for the actual book and $10 for the Kindle.

I hate this…when I buy it on the Kindle, the Kindle becomes the sole purveyor of that text.

But I need to grow up a little bit about this. Let the book love go. Be free from them. (Well, the new ones, anyway.)

But I saw a L.A. Herald-Tribune Almanac from the 1950s on ebay that I just have to have…

I love this statistic…

July 19th, 2011

Seattle has only had 78 minutes of weather above 80 degrees all summer…I can vouch for this (see previous post).

The fact is that it’s become water cooler buzz about how cool this summer has been. Love it!

Actually, I like the fact we’ve only had about 18 hours above 75 degrees…eat our shorts you easterners.

 

Play Me Some Happy Weather Blues

July 17th, 2011

I would like to say that this summer has been going by much too quickly, but the fact of the matter is, here in the Puget Sound, it hasn’t yet felt like summer started.

For example, tomorrow it’s suppose to be partly cloudy and 75 degrees. This would make it the second warmest day of the year so far. Our five-day weather forecast for the rest of the week is filled with periodic rain drops and temps in the upper 60s.

For some people this would be a problem. I love it!!!!

No real humidity, no thunderstorms, no giant downpours (say for once or twice here and there), and, in fact, nothing severe about any of it. I just live someplace that is having a 70-degree-or-so summer so far.

Granted, this isn’t normal. Nothing is normal about it. It’s usually dry and hot by July 1. (When I say “hot,” I mean mostly in the 80s.) But as the rest of the country seems to suffer from severe heat, lightening and hail, I revel in the fact that I can hit golf balls for an hour without breaking a sweat. Or, just put the top-down on the car and not worry about UV exposure so much or needing my air conditioning. I don’t use sprinklers and still have to mow my lawn every week in the middle of July. (As an aside, I have always known I live in the perfect convertible car climate, and the last three years have done nothing to assuade me from that.)

People think of “Seattle” as being wet and weary all year around. Some years that’s true, no doubt.

But as someone who has lived here most of my life, I know the little secret that’s coming. We are going to have a great summer from mid-August to mid-October. Then we’ll get a big windstorm, and then it will be 45 degrees and drizzly for four or five months, and then next year will be “more normal.” It always happens when we have these weird years.

The only thing that makes me a little nervous is that years like this have produced some of our biggest snows the next winter. (Which for us means that once-in-a-decade 18-24-inch “blizzard.”) And, actually, I don’t really mind those when they rarely come along. (If I want snow, I drive an hour to ski or 30 minutes to sled. (Speaking of skiing, Crystal Mountain, which is about 65 minutes away from my house, was still open for skiing up until yesterday, July 16!)

Yep, I like our weather. I honestly don’t know if I’d trade it for any other year-around, year-in-year-out micro climate in the world that I’ve ever been to, actually. It makes me happy.

 

Ol’ Blue

June 22nd, 2011

My first marriage has had its ups and downs.

I first met her when I was 14 and I was working a summer job at the garbage company working on weeds at rental properties. She was hot. She was different that all the others. Nice lines. Big in the rear, robust in the front. I knew that she was the one I was going to commit to forever.

So, with $1,500 I had saved, I bought a very low mileage 1966 Chrysler 300 that I wouldn’t even be old enough to legally consummate the relationship with for almost another two years.

Of course, that didn’t stop me from doing a lot of heavy petting and “fooling around.”

Then she was my car in high school. Perhaps, in some ways, other than people that owned a SUV in high school, she was about as perfect of a high school car as one could ever own. But by the summer after my senior year, we were drifting apart. I was leaving for school in Boston and she was not coming with me. She was parked. Oh, sure, I visited here and there, but a Honda Prelude was new fling. It had a sunroof and a tape deck with FM radio. And it was easier to drive back and forth 3,000 miles across country and park in urban streets.

But she waited.

By the time college ended, our divorce was declared. I really didn’t even think about her much. But then my parents got a divorce, and she lost her sweet place in their garage. I was married to my current wife by then and I had to make a decision…sell my first love or keep her.

My honest thinking at the time was simple…she was the single most valuable thing I owned at that point. My job position was precarious, and I needed her as collateral for a loan I was taking out to buy a new car.

And so it was: We became ball and chain. Everyplace I went, she came with the deal.

Then, one day, my wife declared that, in the new house, she needed more room in the garage. It was really a “me or her” moment, but I got the point. The Chrysler got rolled 30 feet out the door. And she sat. Through wind, sleet, rain and snow, she sat. Sure, I’d start her up once in a while, and I still had stuff in her trunk I needed here or there. But she got old and tired looking.

Parked in my front driveway, she also got a lot of suitors. Middle age guys like me, would stop and inquire about her, or as just to look under the hood for fun. And the thing was…I always obliged. But I started to get a little embarrassed about it. I mean, I had a sweetheart parked in my driveway and she was turning into Bette Davis before my eyes; she was saggy and old and tired and smokey. So, about a month ago, I sent her off for a medical evaluation and some honest assessment.

Just as I suspected. The brakes were shot. She was horribly out of tune. The gas tank needed to be replaced. Some serious facelift work was needed. And today, I got all of the cold hard realities of it. My concubine was not only going to cost thousands or dollars to fix up, when it was all done, she was going to need to go back into some garage someplace.

“What are you going to do,” asked the mechanic.

I had to make a call right then and there.

Crap. I already own four other cars (don’t ask, my grandpa dies with 3,000 of them). I just bought a brand new one. I just paid the rest of our summer vacation. To put it mildly…spending more of my savings was not in the plan. And what would i do with her? I had no room in a garage. My monthly budget doesn’t include rent money for a mistress. I don’t even have a steady job.

“I’ll be buy with a check in the morning.”

Here’s the thing. You really don’t ever forget your first. I just took it to the extreme because my first car is my first car. I know everything about it. I know the one guy that owned it before me. I even know where he lived and how he bought it. I know this car like the nape of a teenage girls neck.

She was my first.