Out There: Car memories

My parents didn’t buy Fords, because Henry Ford was an anti-Semite; didn’t buy German cars, because of the Holocaust; didn’t buy Japanese cars, because they wanted to buy American; and didn’t buy Buicks, because they were too expensive. So it was Chevy, they always bought Chevy. Good old American Chevrolet.

By
June 1, 2013 23:36
Car memories.

Out There cars cartoon 370. (photo credit: Pepe Fainberg)

The security question that popped up on my computer screen when I tried to access my bank account recently threw me for a loop.

“What model car did your father drive when you were growing up?”

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


HUH?

“What model car did your father drive when you were growing up?”

You have to love those security questions; it’s like playing The Newlywed Game with yourself.

“What is your favorite movie?”

“What sports team do you most love to see lose?”

“What was the nickname you gave your grandmother?”

Those questions make you think, trigger introspection.

Selecting answers to them is an exercise in self knowledge.

“What is your favorite candy?”

“Who was your childhood hero?”

“Where do you want to retire?”

The trick, of course, is giving an answer you will be able to reflexively recall months later. The childhood hero question really got me thinking. All I wanted to do was get into my bank account, yet there I was being asked a question that went to the very essence of my being, to the very core of my self-perception.

What should I answer? Was it Floyd Little, the great Denver Broncos running back of yore, or Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the great Revisionist Zionist leader? I know who I should say my childhood hero WAS, the one that would fit in with the way I like to see myself. But the truth, what about the truth? Ah, the truth is a complex animal.

THE KEY in answering these questions, obviously, is picking the query that has only one possible response. For instance, “What sports team to you love to see lose?” Easy: the Oakland Raiders. No hesitation there, no stammering, no doubt. Wake me up in the middle of the night with that question and I would sputter, even half asleep, “the Raiders.”

What you don’t want is a question you need to think about later when answering. There is nothing worse – nothing that makes you feel more dense – than choosing a security question for yourself, and then not remembering the answer a few months down the line.

Which is how I felt for a moment when “What model car did your father drive when you were growing up” ran across my computer screen.

“There must be a mistake,” I thought, flustered.

“What kind of question is that? That is not something I would ask myself.”

But then I regained my composure and realized that of course I had picked that question, because there was only one possible answer: Chevrolet, always Chevrolet.

My parents didn’t buy Fords, because Henry Ford was an anti-Semite; didn’t buy German cars, because of the Holocaust; didn’t buy Japanese cars, because they wanted to buy American; and didn’t buy Buicks, because they were too expensive. So it was Chevy, they always bought Chevy. Good old American Chevrolet.

Years from now, when my kids are asked that same question, they will answer “Japanese cars.”

And their answer, with some slight variation, will be similar to what mine was: “Not Fords, because Ford was an anti-Semite; not German cars, because of the Holocaust; not Chevys, because they were too expensive. So it was Japanese cars, they always bought Japanese cars.”

THE FIRST car The Wife and I ever bought was 24 years ago, a week before The Lad, my oldest son, was born. First kid, first car – made sense.

This was a blue, four-door Subaru – that model so ubiquitous on Israel’s roads at the time. The Wife demanded we buy Subaru because it was the first Japanese auto company to break the Arab boycott.

We are not a family that divorces major purchases from politics.

We sold that car 10 years later, soon after the youngest of our four kids got so big we could no longer shoehorn all of them all into the back seat.

By then Mitsubishi was also bucking the Arab boycotts, so we bought a Mitsubishi Spacewagon.

Great car, the Mitsubishi Spacewagon. Room for seven, power steering, automatic widows, rear suspension: the whole nine yards. We bought it used with some 15,000 kilometers on it, and sold it last month – after 14 years – with some 265,000. And when we sold it, I cried.

Well, I didn’t really cry, but I should have, I felt like it: that sale marked the end to a lovely period of our lives.

I’M NOT REALLY sure why we kept the Mistubishi for so long; it surely made no economic sense. The longer we held on to it, the more the price dropped.

The car drank gas, we changed the radiator twice, the transmission once, and it needed regular servicing every 7,500 kilometers, making it expensive to run.

The Wife urged me to sell it some six years ago, when The Lad went into the army. At that time we still could have gotten a decent price for it. Besides, she argued, since the boy was in the IDF, the days of us needing a big car so all of us could pile in for a family outing were numbered, if not over.

This is exactly why, subconsciously, I wanted to hold onto the Spacewagon. I knew that by selling it, by purchasing one of those small cars with the radio on the steering wheel and good gas mileage, I would be closing a chapter on my life that I was just not yet ready to close.

No longer would the whole family, reeking of sun screen, cram into one car together for trips around the country. No longer would The Lass protest that her brother was looking at her funny. No longer would I shout at the kids to stop fighting, lest I have to pull over and leave one of them on the side of the road. No longer would ice cream melt on that upholstery, or coke spill on the floor. No longer would the kids sing in the back seat as we headed up the Jordan Valley. Those days would be gone.

So I didn’t sell the car – hoping that if it was still there in the parking lot and available, we would all get into it once in a while for family vacations, just like we used to do. Holding on to that car was my way of trying to slow down the passage of time and hang on to those all-of-us-together moments.

Indeed, once in a long while when all our schedules were magically synchronized, we did drive somewhere for a vacation. The problem is the last time we did that was nine months ago. And in between, one kid would take the car here, another there, spending an inordinate amount of gas on a large car bereft now of what made it special – kiddy passengers.

So we sold it, and bought a used subcompact Daihatsu (the second Japanese car company to buck the Arab boycott).

“Don’t worry,” The Wife said, consoling me as I looked at the replacement car that could comfortably fit only five passengers, meaning that one of our family would now always have to walk. “For vacations we can always rent something bigger.”

“I know we can,” I said. “But we won’t. And even if we do, it will never be the same.”


Related Content

February 23, 2018
Can Israel remain strong and stable after Netanyahu?

By YAAKOV KATZ

Israel Weather
  • 10 - 23
    Beer Sheva
    12 - 19
    Tel Aviv - Yafo
  • 9 - 16
    Jerusalem
    10 - 18
    Haifa
  • 15 - 26
    Elat
    12 - 21
    Tiberias