Courier-Post columnist Danny Henley admits to being a bit compulsive in regard to his newest vehicle.
With a daughter taking classes five days a week at Hannibal-LaGrange University, a wife who has an assortment of commitments to keep, and me with that persistent obligation called “work,” it was apparent to me after our Ford van died this spring that it would be a challenge for our family to divide one car three ways. Consequently this spring we found and bought a new-used car.
Because it’s the newest vehicle that we’ve owned since we purchased a VW Rabbit decades ago out in Hutchinson, Kan., I’ve found myself acting strangely in regard to our newest addition.
The first time I drove on Palmyra Road in the “new” car, I found myself hyperventilating over the possibility that some golfer with more time than talent, would slice a shot onto the roof, hood or windshield of my car before I could get out of range.
I’ve also been far more vigilant about keeping an eye on the sky, and it has nothing to do with me wanting to photograph lightning. After our Buick was left with an assortment of dimples from last year’s hail storm, I’ve been deathly afraid the same thing will happen to the new vehicle, which I’ve dubbed “Whitey.” (Any guesses what color it is?)
Now when three clouds congregate I have to fight the urge to put Whitey in the basement garage.
Whereas when I was in the van, I’d park as close to Walmart as I could legally get, when it comes to Whitey I’ve found myself content to park it at the back edge of the parking lot and hiking in.
When I was puttering around in the van, unless the dreaded elephant bird took dead aim on the windshield, bird poo typically was allowed to stay where it landed. Such is not my approach with Whitey. Even if an anorexic sparrow finds the back bumper, I can be found wiping it off with a damp rag without delay.
I also can’t help myself when it rains. I’ll pull the car into the basement and, try as I might to resist the urge, I’ll wind up toweling it down.
I’m also guilty of giving Whitey more baths in the relatively short time we’ve had it than I gave the two vans we used to own over a five-year period.
There’s probably a support group out there for what I’ve got, I just haven’t invested the time to find it yet.
I have come to the conclusion that what I’m afflicted with, at least until the newness wears off or it gets its first hail dimple, is genetic.
As I think about it, my father and I shared only a handful of interests. We both loved the same woman – his wife, my mother. We both were lousy about letting her know it, my dad because of his alcoholism and me because I was a self-centered teen-ager.
He also ingrained in me a deep passion for the St. Louis Cardinals and a taste for pro football. Beyond that, I’m hard pressed to come up with much that we shared in common.
My dad, who when I was young seemed to buy a new car every year, could almost always be found outside on a weekend morning washing his vehicle. I could understand his passion for a clean car, since as a salesman his vehicle often made a first impression on potential clients. As for me, while I loved my first car, a ’67 VW bug, I rarely carved out time to wash it.
It was one day recently, as I stood behind my house toweling down Whitey after its latest bath, that the startling revelation hit me that I’m becoming my dad. It was enough to make me consider allowing it to accumulate enough dirt to warrant a new name - “Off Whitey.”