New action, the kind that starts to really shake things up and gets you moving in a new direction may be directly related to the degree that you are willing to engage with new ideas. New ideas doesn’t necessarily relate to that normal casual thinking that one does where thoughts flow in and out of one’s “mind”. If you’ve ever had a new idea you may have pondered the thought of where it came from. I don’t know where they come from but I like the unanswerable aspect of the question, “Where do ideas come from?” New idea or not, the question alone brings up more questions. Into the rabbit hole.
Given the gift of knowledge and having Unlimited Power (isn’t half of Unlimited Power still Unlimited Power?) put me in a great position to make something happen. I was open to and having new ideas, I was registered for fall classes and at the same time, being a good red-blooded American boy I had a big problem…I had no car.
Sitting around the old coffee house late one night, me and my man Del hatched a plan to resolve that problem. Now Del, he was much more of a car guy than I was and hanging around him I started thinking that I was a car guy too. I had a little Oldsmobile affinity brewed up after driving around in that sweet Cutlass Supreme for a couple of years. I’m not sure where I received my information prior to the existence of the Interwebs but I had it on good authority that a 1973 Cutlass Supreme was just the model I was looking for. It was a little quirky with that thin front bumper and grill running top to bottom (under/through the bumper) and those sweet, cut into the body long tail lights. And now that I think of it, it was those Auto Trader magazines and classified ads in the newspaper that gave me most of my knowledge, aside from hearing stuff from all those car guys that I knew and general observation about what was driving around town.
One chronic problem that seemed to come up with me finding a decent ’73 Cutlass was the effect that salt and Cleveland winters seemed to have on car bodies. Finding a ’73 Cutlass in my price range (Super Cheap), that still ran and wasn’t a rust bucket was going to be a problem. Then through conversation over coffee, doing some form of brainstorming, me and Del hatched a plan.
We’d heard about all these old runners down south that made their way up north with solid bodies on account of having no real sort of winter down thar. Now summa these cars had some issues on accounta the heat. Sure the bodies on these boys was nice and solid but the interiors may have been sun bleached or dry rotted. Same thing for any of them landau roofs you may have had…vinyl or leather don’t matter none…the dry rot was gone git ya from the sun. Engines run hot down thar too. High temps are the norm and these boys is gonna have some gasket dry rot issues on the engines or other some such kind of problems.
That’s what we heard anyway. But you could get a solid body real cheap. Southern bodies…oh the glory of it.
We picked a destination. South, mild winters, not too hot so you don’t git the dry rot too much. Not too near the ocean so you don’t get that salty air…I don’t even know if that’s accurate to this day that it would have any effect but that was the logic at the time. We was gonna go to Charlotte and each of us buy us a Southern Car. These Southern Cars, they were legendary back in the day. All nice and rust free comin’ up here from down south and fetchin’ high prices on resale. I wasn’t going to sell this one though, once I found it – hell no, I was going to keep it and start making everything good again.
I didn’t think of it that way, consciously anyway, since I wasn’t really aware that life could be good/bad based on choices I made or that I really had anything to do with it. I really thought that life just happened to you. This was different though. And again, the timeline here is a little hazy – was this before or after “that day that altered everything”? It may have been just before, it may have been just after. Certainly the scheming my way out of this hole had already begun over coffee. This was different though.
I said something. I promised it. I had “given my word” and “invented a future” “in the face of (mostly) no agreement“. I was going to go to Charlotte North Carolina, was going to find a car in my price range (Super Cheap), and I was going to buy it. All within about 3 days time which is all my budget would allow. This was going to happen.
Was I worried that it would work out? Yep. Was I worried that I’d find a car in that time frame? Yep. Something was different though. I’d put something at stake. I’d put my a$$ on the line.
Baby, watch me move.
Now, me and Del was gonna go down there together and both do the same thing (though Del was looking for a Laguna package Malibu – a much rarer breed). We had logistical issues though. He had to work, I had little money. Flying for me was out of the question – I’d spend half of my budget on the ticket. Leaving work a day early for him was out of the question.
My mother loves me and she must love an adventure. She agreed to go with us on this mostly hair brained idea to buy a Southern car. Me and Mom would drive down in her car and once we got there we’d pick up Del at the airport when he flew in after work. That would give me half a day or so extra to pick up some local classifieds and start narrowing down the prospects. What my Mother did could be called “being a supportive Mother”. Maybe she was just worried that I’d get taken for $300 bucks like I did in Virginia Beach that time a couple of years prior. What I would call it today, after retelling the story and going over the gift that she gave me would be…”My mother provided a space within her listening for an unpredictable future to arise.” She never really questioned the soundness of the idea. She didn’t judge it, or assess it. She didn’t tell me that it would or wouldn’t work out. She listened. She heard the vision of the future I was creating through my speaking and let it be. In that space, that listening, (and the action that supported the listening) she helped me pull off the first of many victories.
The trip, for the most part, was pretty uneventful and went down, for the most part, exactly as planned.
I likely should have bought the ’73 Camaro. From a classic car perspective I probably could have gotten a better resale on it down the road. It was pretty solid from what I remember, maybe had a ding in one of the doors that I thought would be hard to replace and it may have had some high mileage. Mostly, we looked at it first and I had to see this Cutlass that was a little farther out of town.
We were out in big sky territory, rolling country Carolina hills blue and green all around. I swore I’d always remember his name, but having not thought about it for a while, alas I’ve forgotten. Billy Joe, or Joey Bill or Jimmy Bob or something you’d expect a North Carolina farmer to be called. Out there under the blue sky off the side of the blacktop road on the front of the driveway up to the farmhouse he told us about this ’73, how his son drove it into a ditch one night being reckless. That’s why it had that ’75 front end on her. He spoke in that Southern drawl, real slow…making me impatient slow. We opened the hood and it looked good, no leaks…started right up and it sounded good with that dual exhaust. Just a slight rumble with that 350 rocket popping 8 cylinders in a well timed orchestra. We looked at the body and it was solid. Like every story you ever heard about them Southern cars being real clean. Not a speck of rust on her. It wasn’t pure but since “Armageddon” (my first Cutlass that some kind fellow borrowed from me to assist me on my journey of redemption) was a ’75 I didn’t mind the front end. And the hood had those awesome fake air intake louvers on it. For $650 and with 3 days to shop I’d have to concede some things.
I gave him the money. He gave me the keys and signed the title over. I asked him if it was fast. “Oh, it’ll git.”, he said.
It did. I tried it out as I headed up 77 from Charlotte to Cleveland, with my Mom following behind.
I felt so good, like anything was possible. Runnin’ down a dream.