This past weekend I waxed and compounded my old 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, just me and an old warrior that I painted way back in 1981 when I was 24 years old.
Slowly rubbing her old cracked and faded paint to a mirror-like finish, I gently glided the white towel over her old “Mopar Rally Red” body. Being ever so careful not to lift any of the small chips that developed on her old lacquer skin. You see a paint job only lasts so long, and this one is well over 25 years old already. So, in 2009 I’m more than pressing my luck by compounding deeper and closer to her gray primer below the surface.
The feel of the fenders and the roof were oh so familiar to my hand. Yes, I probably have done this a thousand times before since I was 22 years old. Knowing every flaw and every inch of this old car, I slowly passed my fingers over the smooth red paint after the wax was rubbed to perfection.
But as I polished the top of the doorsills, I suddenly saw a face staring back at me from the driver’s side window. It was a much older version of me than I remember, just looking back at me with a perplexed expression.
“Who the hell are you?”
“I’m you, you asshole”
“Well, you look like hell, and what happened to your hair?”
The face just smiled back at me and then continued to polish the old Plymouth.
But then I looked again and he was back. Oh my God, it was me!
You see, I have been going through this routine for years, and the car is basically the same. Well, maybe the paint’s a little cracked and faded. But the car could still pass for the 1981 version I painted if you squint your eyes enough.
But the guy in the window got old on me, and looked quite different from the same kid who used to wax that car to death back in the early 80’s in Kensington Brooklyn.
No more “Eagles, Hotel California” or “Meat Loaf, Bat out of Hell” blasting in the garage either. No, tonight the kids are sleeping, so I better just keep it down before I wake them up.
Oh well, life changes and so do we, but at least I still have this old car to make me feel young. Along with that guy in the window to make me feel old.