Nine years ago it was wood-working.
Seven years ago it was boat fever.
Five years ago is was flying.
For the past three years it has been cars.
These hobbies start as a passing interest, an ember in my heart that travels to my brain and finally into my hands (and wallet).
Hundreds of hours of YouTube videos are watched. Hundreds of pages of books and magazines are read. I wake up thinking about it and go to sleep dreaming about it.
My track record speaks for itself. The wood lathe got me forty bucks at a tag sale. The boat I bought holds firewood in my wife’s garden. The voicemail I got back from that “Learn to Fly” pilot license program was deleted long ago.
So, why, last December, on one of the coldest days of my life, did I watch them load that rusted out 1972 Mercury Cougar XR7 onto a truck and deliver it to my house?
“I just want to see if I can get it started,” I told my wife.
“Ok,” she said.
“It will be good for me to learn on.”
If I can just take it apart and put it back together it would be amazing.”
She smiled and said, “Ok hon.”
They rolled it off the bed into my yard. I couldn’t wait for it to get warmer. I dreamed of long days under the hood, up to my elbows in grease, a beer sweating on the fender, and a radio playing Pearl Jam in the background. After a few years of skinned knuckles and a small fortune spent on parts, the dual exhaust would thunder upon ignition and the once tattered canvas top would fold neatly back into place with the flick of a switch.
My first convertible.
And there it sat, rusting away in the yard.
Don’t get me wrong, I did a little work on it. I removed the old carpet (including the mysterious animal skeleton on the passenger side floor), and the seats. I checked the engine and determined it was not seized. I took off the carburetor and the doors and started sanding away the rust, but honestly, it was too big of a job for me, and I never spent the time on it that it needed.
So, after less than a year I called one of those “Looking for cars in any condition!” signs and had them come take it away. I felt a little better about giving it up when the wrecker guy asked, “Um, what were you gonna do with this?” Plus, I got a little money for it.
I had the boys come out and watch them load it up.
“They’re taking your car to fix it?” asked the three -year old on my hip.
“No buddy, they are taking it away.”
“Oh,” he said.
We watched it disappear down the driveway and I was surprised to find him crying as he waved it goodbye.
It came rushing back to me. He was there when I took out the carpet. He watched me like a hawk as I torqued the crank-shaft. When I got the hood open I would let him peer over the edge. He would inhale the strange old smell and squint his toddler eyes as if the odor reminded him of something. I can see him on that freezing winter day sitting on the moldy seats pretending to drive it in the backyard with a huge smile on his face.
Maybe he had the same dreams I had. Maybe the metal and rust and grease and rubber and hoses and wiring captured his imagination the same way it did mine.
Or maybe he just wanted to spend some time working on a car with his Old-Man.
I wonder when I’ll get another one.
Owner Spowerks LLC