Saturday, January 23, 2010

Memories of Wheel Life

I don’t know what all the celebrating is about with regard to New Year’s. It usually begins with a headache and memory lapses for some and a new tax year for others. For me it’s a subtle reminder I’m one year older and there will be thousands of new cars on the road I will not be able to identify. Cars have become like birds and evergreen trees, they all look alike to me. Used to be you could I.D. a car from a mile away and most folks were known by what car or truck they drove.

You could also come pretty close to guessing their “well-off quotient.” Gone are the days when people were identified with what they drove, like Old George Roebuck down in Statesboro, who drove a green Ford pickup truck in the winter as a basketball coach and the same green truck in the summer as a house painter for 20 years. Coach Roebuck, a community icon, always recognizable by his green Ford truck.

Then there was Lew Cordell in Milledgeville, who always drove Cadillacs, even when his “driving” days were over. He had two and when he wrecked one he’d just pull the other one out and steer it until the first one was fixed. Of course, their vehicles were paid for.

Nowadays, a lot of us drive cars we either can’t afford or have no intention of paying off. Some still borrow a ride.

Early on, I always had to share a car with my brother because neither one of us wanted to work hard enough to have one for ourselves. We shared three different cars during our growing up period; one being a ’59 Chevy Biscayne, three on the column and light enough that if the battery went dead, (which it often did) you could start it up by getting it rolling, jumping in at the right time and popping the clutch. You’d have that thing started before you could say help. I took Anita fishing in that car, somewhere down in Kathleen, got stuck in a mud hole and never saw her again. I don’t think we even took any bait now that I think about it. I loved that ’59 Chevy, no seatbelts and big ol’ seats.

When my brother and I didn’t have “our” car, we would borrow one. Jim Dooley, a roommate at Georgia Southern, had a ’56 Buick Special, big ol’ “thang” with fins, a big ol’ steering wheel, and big ol’ seats. Gas was 32 cents a gallon, and if you filled it to the quarter mark you were considered full of gas. Did I mention the seats? I borrowed that car on a spring night and picked Barbara up for a trip to “the lake” where I shut the lights out prematurely, hammered a guy wire, started a fireworks display and sent the campus of Georgia Southern into the dark ages for the remainder of the evening. Barbara soon took up with somebody who had his own car.

The following fall I borrowed my Aunt’s green ’58 Studebaker in Knoxville, Tenn., after hitching a ride with Mike Channel from Warner Robins. Carol and I were going to the Maryville College football game. My aunt failed to tell me the Studebaker’s heater only worked on odd days and that Friday happened to be the 16th of November. Carol never wrote me back after that but I believe those seats were a green plastic vinyl and colder than a well digger’s derriere in the Klondike.

So as the New Year arrives I’m thankful for my family, the fact that I can still recognize most of them by their old cars, and for these nice heated seats I found in my “new” ’06 Solara.

The History of Debt

I was talking to a friend the other day who was concerned about our country’s debt and that we seem to be borrowing loads of money from the Chinese. I said, “Doesn’t worry me in the least, friend. You see, I understand the history of debt, borrowing and such.”

Now, for what it’s worth (probably not much), here’s my opinion on the debt “crisis.” Debt was probably introduced around 2000 B.C. (before credit) in the garden when a rib was borrowed from Adam and given to the creator of all debt — the woman.

This is not to say that the woman was at fault but she simply began, refined and took debt to a level probably not envisioned by Solomon himself. This process took eons and began with the invention of the shoe and crude jewelry.

Shoes and jewelry, quality be dashed, rendered the woman helpless around the time merchants were invented. Since this was before the time of plastic, which has greatly enhanced the woman’s ability to increase debt exponentially (a word I have never understood but know it’s a lot of something), debt didn’t grow much initially.

It took the invention of the purse to fertilize the womans’ ability to increase debt as she found a place to store and hide what she bought.

Mankind has always borrowed, shared wealth and shown an amazing ability toward greed, but recent developments have taken this to the next level.

I’m reminded of the archaic practice of cave dwellers seen dragging women around by their hair. There seems to be an opinion out there that says, “what’s mine is mine and what’s your’s might be mine too if I can figure out a way to make it happen.”

Was this borrowing, sharing or just plain ol’ greed? The invention of the plastic card, which occurred around the time divorce and palimony were invented, jump started the debt we know and love today.

The card had a two-fold effect on people, decreasing their I.Q. while destroying their ability to remember what it was they charged. So at this point in time we really have no idea how much money we owe, nor do we care.

The inventors of the plastic card realized early on that if they sent it via mail we would use it. Now we see millions of Neanderthals spending money they do not have.

Am I saying here that our plastic card dilemma is only the womans’ fault? Of course not.

Men are occasionally seen making purchases, but more often than not, they are buying for women. Most men find using the plastic card boring. It’s the exchange of cash, real money that gets men excited. We see these exchanges taking place almost every day on the street in downtown Macon, as men barter their way to a healthier lifestyle. No I’m not worried about the debt, but our creditors might be another story.