Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Rolls Royce
Vintage Rolls-Royce.

The first Sunday morning of every month, the open-air shopping center that adjoins our neighborhood becomes a frenetic focus of automotive activity. Well before any of the stores open for business, car fanciers from miles around congregate in the empty parking lot to show off their proud possessions. Some are there to buy, others to sell... but, I suspect, the real joy for most of them is simply having the chance to display their cherished classic cars to an appreciative crowd.

They’re bright and shiny, many of these Antique Autos. Restored to their original condition - in some cases better than their original condition - they are mechanically flawless, in perfect running order. I look at them and I think, “Wouldn’t it be great to own one of these babies?”

Caddy LaSalle dashboard

No, it wouldn’t. Let’s be practical for a moment. Vintage autos, with their equally vintage systems, look great but take a lot of care. Finding authentic spare parts is a major undertaking. They have carburetors and inner tubes, fercryinoutloud! Oil changes every twenty minutes! Putting water in the battery! Cleaning and gapping the spark plugs! Who needs it? And let’s not forget... no seat belts, air bags, or collapsible steering columns. Death traps, I tells ya!

But still... there’s a mysterious attraction those older cars have on us... and it’s more than the fact that these are (in some cases) the cars we grew up with.

We’re antiques, too, after all.

I’ve been walking the planet for close to fifty-eight years. When I was a young Snot-Nose, people in their late fifties were old. Pruned up to a fare-thee-well. Crotchety, scary, and wrinkly to boot.

But when I look in the mirror each morning to scrape those (increasingly grey) whiskers off my face, I don’t see an Old Guy staring back at me.

I see me.

The same me who, at my fortieth birthday, asked whether I had to start acting like a grownup. That birthday itself is now old enough to drive one of those Old Cars, but I don’t feel any different. In fact, I feel better.

My kids are grown women, adults whose company I enjoy as adults. My wife and I are fitter than we have been in years. We have a full, active social and community life. I can schlep a fifty-pound rucksack up a mountain in the snow... and cook a killer coq au vin. Being an antique is fun!

Yeah, maintenance can be a bit tricky (and expensive) on us antiques... and not all of us make it to Classic status, alas. That’s life. Some of us are Edsels, and some are Rolls-Royces. Both have their own virtues, and both have their legions of fans. Some of us age like fine wine, becoming rich and mellow, while others of us age like cheese, becoming blue-veined and stinky.

They say “Sixty is the new forty,” but that’s a load of crap. Sixty is sixty. But sixty in 2011 is not what sixty was in 1951 or 1971. Look at Keith Richards. (On second thought, don’t look at Keith Richards. Instead, look at Bruce Springsteen, recent AARP cover boy. He still has his chops, and, with his E-Street buddies, still puts on a show that puts far younger bands to shame.) And you can’t overlook the best thing about getting old(er). It beats the alternative.

I’m happy to be an antique. Just be careful when you kick the tires, though... OK?

I’m trying to blog my way to the AARP Orlando@50 conference. This blog post is an entry in their competition to find the official blogger to travel to and cover the event. Find out more about the conference here.


Joan Price said...

I enjoyed this, Elisson! Vintage cars, fine wine, stinky cheese -- however we age, it's up to us to enjoy our... errr... antiquity!

Holder said...

HA! On second thought.....yeah, Keith looks like he died twenty years ago and no one told him.
You crack me up!
Anna said the other night that 40 was old. Made me Bou Blink...

Anonymous said...

.... well, I am very glad that you went camping in the snow with me, sir...... it was a well needed jaunt for us both.....

... and hey, it is almost time for us to do it again this year!...


Cowtown Pattie said...

Hey, Obi-Wan!

You are in danger of getting wise. Just thought I'd warn ya. (The vaulted Wise-assed trophy you earned at birth, I suspect!)

Sigh. Some of us grow older like Rock-Of-Ages Keith, and some of us find the ageless holy water that the Boss bathes in.

Me? Maybe I'm at that awkward in-between stage; not ancient, not young, neither dewey nor pruned, but certainly broken-in well.

You, on the other hand, certainly can claim the funny bone fountain of youth. Such wit!

(Comes from living with a Texan, you know. We invented humor. How else do you survive our summers and our politics?)

PS: don't be gradin' my grammar or punctuation skills...