My Father called the other day.
Dad: How’s the Hudson?
Me: Ehhhhhhh, errrrrr
Dad: Does it run?
Me: Ehh, it did
Dad: Why did you buy this car again?
That’s a great question. “Why DID I buy this car?” I really don’t have a good answer. I was compelled? I am a used car salesman’s wet dream? I can’t control myself? I have an addiction to pain, stress, mental anguish and Excel spreadsheets detailing the emptying of my wallet? I’m impulsive and naive and woefully underestimate the difficulties and time needed to complete even the most basic of tasks?
I am in fact ALL of those things. Those personality traits have been in place as long as I can remember. The short answer is that I WANTED the car. I’m not sure I chose wisely. In fact I woke up again at 4:15 this morning having an internal freakout about the decision to undertake bringing a 70 year old rat trap back to life. I am one who mires in the mud for days on end over details not any way conducive to the big picture. For instance I removed, aka “destroyed the hell out of” the passenger side door panel the other day to clear out 20 pounds of rodent homes. The following day was spent endlessly perusing the interweb looking for “How to make custom door cards”, “DIY interiors”, “Rat Rod headliners,” etc. My browser history reads as though a 50s housewife and a tech geek got a hold of the keyboard with searches at JoAnn’s Fabrics, Michael’s, Nature’s Miracle and how to remove dead animal smells from cars in between searches for AngularJs, HTML5, SEO for websites and lyrics to Journey songs. I mentaly plotted headliner choices – materials, perceived ease of installation (of which they are all monumentally difficult to me as I’ve never done it before anyway), – and seat cover designs. One search led to another and before I knew it I had forgotten that I had started with simply trying to determine the best way to clean the damn car.
I’m a pessimist by nature. Not so much in the “doom and gloom” sense but more that Murphy and his law generally win in the Casino of Life. I’m completely impatient. Honestly not sure I have the capacity TO be patient. When I enjoy doing something I do it until I beat the living snot straight out of it. Then take a break and eventually repeat the process. Spreadsheets and “if/then” scenarios take up what little free room my brain has to spare, and sometimes kick out more pressing matters like days of the week, kids birthday party plans or lunch. I become a slave to my own thoughts, waking up at odd hours sweating about details undone or staying up well into the night searching for items I have no immediate need for. I DO enjoy being in the garage and making progress. But I expect my hands and fingers to be able to do what my mind can barely envision, without any actual experience or training. As if simply picking up a hammer will automatically compel me to rewire the entire car. I’m persistent which can be simultaneously an asset and a fault. With 2 beautiful kids at home and a partner whom I’d like to keep, the need to find some sort of balance between progress on the car and progress as a Dad and husband is mandatory. Problem is I only know how to go hard or go home. And if I go the former I won’t have the latter. Though the coupe is big enough to sleep in.
So why then did I buy this car? From a purely physical standpoint the Hudson had all I was looking for: original chopped roof look, numbers matching, good paperwork, a stick shift and what I was told was a running engine (this has yet to be proven 1 way or the other). The lines on the car are gorgeous. The 70 year paint job done by Mother Nature speaks to me. It does to the Better Half as well – it just says two very different things. The “potential” for the car is off the charts. It’s unique. The people who love Hudsons seem to genuinely be one with them which means a network of support rather than a forum of people pissing in someone else’s cheerios.
From an emotional standpoint I wanted a project. I swore I didn’t – that instead I’d opt for an vintage driver that I could do some things here and there to. But I lied to myself. The truth is I don’t particularly want a “driver” that I didn’t have my hands in. The enjoyment is the destination or whatever that cliche is. I could simply take a loan on a car well beyond what I’ll ever build. That’s just not how I want to roll right now. I want to know how to fix drum brakes. To craft a headliner. Make door panels and seat covers. I also want my kids to see what can be done with their hands. To put what God gave us to actual work, not simply to bash on a keyboard or take pictures with a cell phone and use filters to make it look old. To go from head to hand and revel in the satisfaction of a job completed. And it’s just fu&*ing cool!
As years go by and more laws are passed to prevent people from themselves I see so much of what I remember as a kid being eroded away. Riding in the bed of a pickup truck. Fireworks on a local baseball field on the Fourth of July. Drive ins. Pool hopping. Again they may sound contrite or cliched but they are memories I cherish. Was always told that youth was fleeting and to enjoy it. Now with 2 young kids I tell them the same thing. Choosing to live in the moment rather than scrambling to snap up a picture of it and missing the meaning altogether. Of course my kids may not care at all about these things. After all they can’t miss what they never knew. But I can show them what I had and what it meant to me and maybe that will help keep them young at heart longer. Or to run down and buy the shiniest Toyota on the lot.
I hope to get out there and actually DO something worthy of taking a picture. And when my kids are older and parents themselves maybe they will look back at the faded sepia colored picture of my rusted out jalopies and motorcycles and remember the trips to the ice cream stand or being dropped off at softball practice, oil stains on the driveway, greased hands and lunches spent under the hood and the merciless racket of air compressors, dropped wrenches and the occasional curses of surprised jubilation. Hopefully the pictures will convey the satisfaction of using one’s hands and pushing beyond what we know we can do to get to a place we never thought we could.
So why dd I buy the Hudson? I bought it for the kids!!! That’s what I told the Better Half anyway.