About 6 weeks ago, my father and I had this conversation:
Dad: “My buddy Jeff called, he’s DJing for a car show this Saturday and wants you there. You need to go.”
Me: “I haven’t washed the Vette in two weeks, and it is supposed to rain.”
Dad: “It’s supposed to clear up Saturday, wash the car right before you leave.”
Me: “The Beer Crawl is Friday night, I will probably be too hung over for that nonsense.”
Dad: “Well, too fucking bad. I told him you were coming, so you get to man up and head there Saturday. It starts at 11.”
Ladies and Gentleman: My father. No really, he’s legitimately an amazing man. Any of his friends (or mine) can attest to that. Unfortunately, as a nearly splitting-image of my father, I get to be his stand-in at events to which he cannot attend. I cannot begin to count the number of friend’s birthdays, funerals, and graduation parties I have had to attend on his behalf. Granted, he is a busy guy, so I don’t complain. He also is 3” taller and about 100 lbs. heaver than me. Even at 25, he still scares the shit out of me.
Unfortunately for me, I presently do not have the means to move into the luxury condominium I have my eye on and make a monthly Corvette payment. Actually, that’s wrong. I can, but I can say goodbye to nights of $100 bar tabs, spontaneous weekend trips, Brooks Brothers shirts, or superfluous spending in general. #FirstWorldProblems
I despise washing or detailing cars. Mine are cleaned about every month if I’m lucky. Last night was the first time I washed the outside since the aforementioned car show, some 1800 miles and 6 weeks ago. This was also the first time that the interior has been cleaned since I pulled it out of
my driveway storage in March.
In my eyes, the time I spend washing a car could be spent driving. Even when clean, I take it out immediately afterward and seemingly never fail to accrue a smattering of insects on the front bumper. Not to mention, I’ve turned a few dozen miles shy of 10,000 in the Vette this year. I feel that I am justified in my laziness.
Unfortunately, I catch a lot of shit from people for not keeping it clean. I once had a lady yell to me whilst at a stoplight, “that car is too nice to be that filthy, you need to wash it. I like Mustangs better, but you need to take better care of your car.” I casually rolled up my window. If I wanted lip from a middle-aged woman driving a 93 Caravan, I would’ve placed an ad on Craigslist’s Casual Encounters.
Upon arrival to the show, I was to complete a form for “judging,” and display a numbered placard in my window. Both the “attendees” and “participants” will be selecting “winners.” Now, I have to deal with pensioners ridiculing me in regards to the way in which I maintain my own personal vehicle.
Around 11:42, I began to get restless. The first hour or so passed easy enough, as I decided to wipe down the entire car with spray wax. At the very least, it looked presentable. If I were to take it to Ruth’s Chris, the valet might not have to park it in back. I even plundered Harbor Freight for WOWOMGHOTBUYS92%OFF items. Fortunately for me, I have a cabinet full of blue tarps and poor-quality LED flashlights.
I did, however, purchase a folding camp chair. It seems as though you cannot be admitted to a car show without one. My chair was about 1/10th the price of the others in that I did not have one with my car’s logo. Even cuter was the couple with their 2005 Mustang V6 Convertible, situated behind me. They not only had the matching Mustang chairs, but went as far as to have their names embroidered on the back of each one. This apparently is the key to a successful marriage, marking whom each $82 camping char belongs to.
Occasionally, a few people would walk up to the Mustang. “That’s one hell of a car,” barked one old man. “I bet she’s one fast horse,” exclaimed another. “Wow, a real driver’s car this one is,” replied the owner. If it weren’t for the massive hangover, I would’ve been inclined to question what makes his car a good “driver’s car.”
Judging by my observations, a real driver’s car has the following attributes:
- 5-speed automatic transmission
- V6 producing 205 HP
- Poverty/rental-spec cloth interior
- Matching embroidered camping chairs
Around 12:30, an older gentleman pulls up next to me. He’s driving, a 2015 Chevrolet SS. I was praying for someone to talk with that actually knew something about cars. For those who don’t know, the SS is a V8 RWD sedan. Think if it as a 4-door Camaro with absolutely zero marketing behind it. The majority of buyers purchase these because they know exactly what they are. It’s a car that screams, “I like to go fast, but want to be discrete while doing it.”
The owner of the SS unloads a camping chair, sits down, and begins to spark up a conversation in the twangiest of southern drawls:
Him: “Do you know what this is, son?”
Me: “Yes, it’s a Chevy SS. Cool ride.”
Him: “You know it ain’t a Malibu, rite? It’s Australian.”
Me: “Yeah, it’s called the Holden Commodore down there. Loosely related to the 04-06 GTO.”
Him: “Uhh, sure. A lot of people think it’s a Malibu. You know no Malibu came with the motor your Vette has like this puppy did. Runs like a raped ape.”
Me: “They’re pretty quick, but your car actually has an LS3, a generation newer from the LS6 that’s in mine. Similar, but different head design and larger bore block“
Him: “I’ve only got 3,000 miles on this thing, keeping it up so it can be big money at Barrett-Jackson one day. You drive that Corevette much?”
Me: “Over 12,000 miles last year. Went to Raleigh, Roanoke, DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and all over Michigan last year alone. Drove it up until the snow fell on January 3rd. This year, I’ve been to Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Louisville, The Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Corbin and Knoxville. I’m about to cross 7,500 miles since I took it out of storage in March.”
Him: “Man! You’re just miling that thing up, ain’t ya? Not gonna be worth a dollar when you’re done with it. Derp derp derp derp. Derp derp derp.”
My new friend drew out the conversation for 30 more minutes.
He then began to educate me as to how lazy “kids these day are.” This notion that Millennials are lazy/entitled has been the topic du jour in the media for the past few years. The adjectives “privileged,” “lazy,” and “entitled” come immediately to mind. When one takes time to analyze this situation, the irony becomes very apparent. No two generations of Americans have had the privilege or entitlement of the Baby Boomer generation.
At a quick glance, even I fit into that stereotype. I grew up in a very safe suburban neighborhood with great schools. My parents paid for me to attend a Catholic High School. I was awarded a Presidential Scholarship to Wayne State University’s College of Engineering. I managed to piss that scholarship away over the course of 3 semesters, instead choosing to focus on the pursuit of women ranging from the leather-clad hipster in English 1020 to my Calculus TA.
I changed my major two more times, and ended up in a program at my local Community College. I lament the moment at which I will need to cease taking 12 credits per semester behind a computer screen and complete my undergrad at a real university.
The truth of the matter is that I work both a full and part-time job to finance my schooling, cars (I normally own ~3 at any given time), spontaneous road tripping, and excessive restaurant patronage. It’s been that way since I began college, and I unfortunately don’t think that is going to change anywhere in the near future. I’m really hoping that I can win the lottery here soon. The odds of that coming to fruition are better than my 403b retirement plan providing me a comfortable life once I turn 60.
Eventually, the man steers our conversation toward his life. Apparently, he worked for his parents his entire life. If this story is to be believed, they owned a few restaurant franchises as part of a now-defunct chain that was integrated into gas stations throughout the country. He said he sold their restaurants and spent his money on, “a house on the ocean in Miami, 2 Cigarette boats with 3 of them 502 crate engines each, a 1963 Corvette with the two back windas, a 1957 Shivvy, and a Shivvy SSR truck that’s also a convertible.”
Do I believe any of the above? Perhaps. Judging by his outfit of sweatpants and an American Flag T-Shirt, I don’t exactly believe that he is of high enough net worth to own a few million dollars’ worth of ocean view property, “go-fast boats,” and vintage cars. The story sounds more along the lines of a modern-day Miami Vice villain of the week. I’ll leave that judgment up to my readership.
The man could also be completely full of shit. For all I know, he spent 32 years tightening lug nuts at a long-shuttered GM plant (there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I have contemplated said career path on more than one occasion). He had a tear in his eye when the final Chevrolet Lumina crossed the line in 2001, and still holds a grudge against Michael Moore for making “Roger and Me.”
Finally, he retires and buys himself the “hot rod” he has always wanted. Well, not exactly. Most retired men buy Mustangs or Corvettes thinking it will somehow help them recapture the youth that slipped away several decades ago. They yearn for a time that wasn’t filled with doctor’s appointments, the 24-hour news cycle, FM radio, or the Internet. These are the type of men who will get up at 7:00 on a Saturday to hang out in a Harbor Freight parking lot, reminiscing about their youth.
As for me, I’m going to avoid car shows for as long as I can. The time is much better spent on more fruitful endeavors. When the day comes that I am the old man lecturing “kids” at a car show, I will have the ability to look back upon my youth and be truly happy in regards to how it was
misspent. Life is too short to spend it washing your car and hanging out in parking lots.