I don’t know about you, but it’s getting to where some new habits are starting to take shape. And it is - to quote everyone in the world - getting crazier and crazier. The handwashing, the no face touching, the handwashing, the six feet rule. And why six feet? Isn’t that how deep they bury you? Is that a clue?
It’s getting to the point where I don't want to rub my eyes when I wake up the morning without first sanitizing my hands. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but still — new habits. One thing, I will not put up plexiglass around the back porch.
There is a line in Dan Bern’s new song “Quarantined From Myself” that goes:
“Quarantine me, I think it’d be grand,
No fist-bumps, no high-fives, don’t shake my hand…”
He then goes on to say that to be on the safe side, he might as well be bubble-wrapped.
This last weekend, lyrics from two other songs were bouncing around my head. One was Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” The other was from a Mel Brooks song, “Hope For the best, expect the worst.”
When our old pickup wouldn't start last weekend, I hoped for the best but expected the worst. When I turned the key, it went click. Now, it usually would wheeze and cough like the coronavirus had mutated to infect an internal combustion engine, but this time it was comatose, as in nothing … nada … crickets. After a few colorful epithets, I went into Code Blue mode and resuscitated the ol’ gal with jumper cables (yes, according to my wife, the truck is female).
Anyhow, she started right up again like always, and it’s good to know there’s still some life in her, even with the rust spots and that whine in the power steering. I’m thinking she must’ve been a beaut when she came off the Ford assembly line in 1987, but as the years went by, as Lyle Lovett sings in The Truck Song, “...she's held together by BF Good tires and baling wire.”
It hits me that I must have some of my father in me when it comes to hanging on to old vehicles. When he died in 1995, he was still driving the yellow Toyota Celica he bought new in 1971. Maybe it had something to do with living through the Great Depression in the 1930s, or perhaps he followed the Swedish proverb, "don't buy a pig while it's still in the bag." In other words, don’t make rash decisions. So, okay, think long and hard before deciding to buy a new vehicle.
If you hadn't noticed by now, Father's Day coming up Sunday, and if you are a dad, I hope you get what you deserve. Like most of the guys I know, I've experienced fatherhood both ways. Being a father and having a father. When you're little, your father sets the standard, and when you're grown up, you might use your father as a template, but after that, you're on your own and have to sort out how to do it right.
Although my dad was “my dad,” I remember thinking the best fathers were on TV. There was Ward Cleaver and Ben Cartwright, and Steve Douglas and Rob Petrie. But I must admit that the best fatherly advice I heard as a kid was from Lucas McCain, the dad in The Rifleman. And of course, Sheriff Andy Taylor. But my dad was not Andy, and I sure as heck wasn't Opie.
Those TV dads had common sense and were understanding and patient (thanks to the time and trouble the writers of those shows put into it) and made me a little envious. But in a way, they made me appreciate my own dad because they weren't living inside our house with my mother and brothers and sisters.
But on the other hand, for a great many of us, there were times when things weren't all rosy with our dads. Times like, for instance, ahem...puberty, when mom and dad both seem a little weird, and I know that now because I probably seemed a bit weird to my own kids during those years.
My dad is no longer around, but I find myself thinking about him, his ways, his corny expressions, more than ever. That stuff stays deep inside and pops up unexpectedly, probably at those moments when we need it.
So, whatever the case may be, this Sunday don't forget to tell your dad you love him, or forgive him, or thank him. Because I'm sure he's done the best he knows how to do.
If he were still around today, something tells me my dad would still be wanting to be puttin' around in that rattletrap of a car. And no COVID-19 mask, no. Knowing him, he would be wearing the gas mask he’d hung onto since WWII. Just in case.