That seat back there was reserved for the Mother in Law!
In my case, that would be who is often humorously referred to in old car stories as "my long suffering spouse."
|My Wife road comfortably in this seat on our trip to Lake Tahoe.|
My Wife is not an enthusiast or even very interested in cars. She doesn't especially enjoy driving. Cars and driving are just things that are a necessary part of life, like going to work, doing the housework, cooking and cleaning. I guess that she is like the great majority of people, she saves her enthusiasm for things that she cares about, like her family, home, and her Art.
I knew that she wasn't a car or motorcycle enthusiast going in, but her other outstanding qualities far outweighed that shortcoming.
She knew that I was a car and motorcycle enthusiast going in, but she overlooked that, and saw I had a few other redeeming qualities.
I saw that it was my responsibility to provide her with good, safe, reliable, non embarrassing, transportation. For the most part of our marriage I fulfilled that obligation.
To be honest, I never really considered how she felt about my cars, especially as long as she had a decent car to drive. I imagine she thought that all my energy spent thinking about old cars was kind of silly. Like a lot of car guys I made sure that there was at least one "good car" for us to go out in.
There was another thought that never really crossed my mind.
I never considered if she was embarrassed to be seen in my old cars.
We had some neighbors years ago, a young couple, like we were back then. He worked in the computer industry writing code, I think. I'm not sure what she did. They were nice middle class people, recent homeowners like us. A few years later they moved up to the Sacramento area and bought a really nice new house. I'd heard that he had always wanted an old car and he had bought a decades plus, old Lincoln Mark III. That just needed a little work!
|photo source: flikr.com.|
It really wasn't quite this bad. It just looked like that to her!
We visited them once, and he of course, wanted to show me the Mark. The look on his Wife's face was incredible! She obviously hated that old car. She hated it so much that she couldn't stop herself from telling us about it. We all went for a ride in it. It stalled out once, probably because the engine was still cold, but her husband got it restarted after coasting to the curb. She was incensed that it would "break down" like that. She couldn't see why he would buy something like this, something that you couldn't depend on, when you could afford to drive a reliable new car. (They actually also had two newer cars.)
She then told us how her parents always bought new cars once they could afford it. They only drove older cars when they were first married and broke. Her Dad had impressed upon her the idea that a used car is just someone else's problems. That's why they got rid of it. I began to understand why she felt the way that she did, when she added that only people that couldn't afford new cars, bought used ones. It was all related to self image and status.
Driving that old car, being seen in that old car, and even just the fact that they owned a car like that, was a huge come down in social respectability and status. At least in her eyes! And worst of all, it was a flashy old luxury car! They were like all those pathetic poor people, the kind that put on airs, trying to impress others by driving some rich person's cast off status symbol. The horror!
While I didn't agree with her, I could empathize with her point of view.
|The Doctor is in.|
I remember watching an episode of Dr. Phil years ago. In this particular episode, a professional couple had decided to move out to the country and had bought a property on several acres. It turns out that her husband really began to embrace the ethos of rural living and started to listen to Country music and even bought himself a big 4x4 truck. That was bad enough, but then he had it jacked up and fitted it with huge tires. He loved it! She did not. In fact she really hated it, and she began to find herself feeling a bit the same way about her husband. It was starting to take a toll on their marriage and they turned to Dr. Phil for advice.
As the couple explored and shared their feelings, it became apparent that the truck was just a big toy for the husband. Everyone else around them had a truck like that, it also filled some real needs around the ranch, but it was primarily a "hoot." He didn't force his Wife to drive, or even ride in it, so why was she so upset? When Dr. Phil asked her why she disliked the truck so much, she told him that her husband was a successful professional man, "It's just so beneath him." Then the Dr. asked the salient question. "Is it that the truck is beneath him, or is it that the truck is beneath you?"
She admitted that she really felt that the truck was beneath her. She explained that she had always supported her husband's plans and dreams, through college and during the rough times getting started in his career when they were first married. She had done her part, kept their house, raised the kids, scrimped and saved, and now it was her time to enjoy the fruits of their life's work.
Some jacked up Redneck truck didn't figure into that equation.
Again, I can see her point. We are all working to have the things that we need and want. Respectability, if not status, is something that most of us want. How we define and achieve that end is what makes the difference. Believe it or not, I want that same thing too. Maybe my interpretation has been a little "different".
Is what I've been doing just been a huge embarrassment to my Wife?
If so, it hasn't been my intention, though my Rat Rod stage was probably my most flagrant abuse to our self image. If she ever had a right to express her feelings, that would have been the time!
To be honest, if it wasn't for my Wife, I wouldn't have much to show in the area of social mobility. She wanted nicer things, I wanted to provide them for her. She has worked and done her part, she is very smart and manages and directs most (all!) of our familial affairs. That's something that I respect and value, and one of the reasons that I married her. For my part, I just supply the grunt work.
Not that I haven't enjoyed some personal accomplishments. Without her influence though, I'd probably be living in some run down little house, with a Harley in the garage, and an old Cadillac in the driveway. Not that it sounds so bad to me at all!
Now when I show her pictures of old cars for sale on Craig's List she has a tendency to comment on how big they appear. Yes, I suppose 1950's and 60's Cadillacs are kind of big.
The problem with my new sensitivity is that now I can't just ignore her feelings.