Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Judge Not, Ancien

Above: home of the wannabes 2015.  Below: home of the wannabe 1973.  Aspirational or posers?  We report; you decide. 

About a year and a half ago, I sold my house and moved into a rental unit in an attached-dwelling development only a couple of miles away.  As moves go, it was painless: nothing changed but my address.  And I no longer mow grass, blow snow, or maintain a house.  Happy camper.

I considered a "retirement community" just down the road.  I asked an 80-something friend who lives there what she thought.  "...Well... you have to like rules... a lot of rules."  I don't.  I also enjoy 30-somethings and school kids.  If everyone in the neighborhood under 55 years of age has to clear out by sundown, it doesn't appeal to me.

Be careful what you wish for.  A 20-something couple moved into a unit across the shared driveway from me.  They appear to be college students, and they appear to be sub-letting.  Their vehicle is a Honda Accord coupe with only slight, tasteful (mostly cosmetic) tuner car mods.  For a while, their garage mate was Mitsubishi Eclipse finished in matte stealth grey with blacked-out everything,  a loud tuner exhaust, and a large rear wing.

The Eclipse was recently replaced by a full-sized American V-8 pick-up, also with loud pipes. When it arrived, it was barely north of Beater Quality.  But the owner has sunk a ton of money and time into it, in the garage of his landlords and our shared driveway.  Which was seal-coated last summer but now has a large permanent oil slick in front of their garage door.

Similar to the Eclipse, the truck is now stealth matte black.  It has a roll bar and auxiliary lights.  "BATTLE BORN'" appears on the tailgate where FORD or CHEVROLET should.  A decal at the top of the rear window says "Come Home With Your Shield Or On It."  Street tires.  The owner has been playing too many video war games.  His latest upgrade is a Spinal Tap Quality stereo.  This is a truck I could take in a 0-100 m.p.h. drag race in my Civic Si without breaking a sweat.  "All show and no go," as we used to say when I was the owner's age.  Poser.  His vehicle and his late-night comings-and-goings annoy me beyond reason.  "Get off my lawn!"  (Oh... I don't have a lawn any more... )

Today the epiphany arrived: he reminds me of... me... 40 years ago.  I was always working on the beater-of-the-year in my apartment complex.  It took a couple of weeks to replace the valves in a Rambler Ambassador, with the driveway as my parts washer.  When I finally got a dependable daily driver, my beloved Datsun 510, I immediately put BRE "go faster" stripes on a completely stock car.  Like the truck, the 510 had go-faster wheels but useless tires.  Those were the days of ignition points and condensers.  I hacksawed the scoop off the air cleaner.  Advanced the static and dynamic timing of the distributor.  Tuned it.  At 4000 revs.  When working on my cars, I often turned up the radio.  All of this in the shared driveway of my apartment complex.

Judge not, Ancien.  You probably once drove 30- and 40-somethings with children and good-paying steady jobs to distraction.  They held their tongues.  Go, ye, and do likewise.  And it's nice to see school kids in my 'hood get off their busses and walk to their houses without a permission slip.  And you don't have to punch a code into a gate to get down my street.  And nobody tells you what kind of flowers you can plant in your Association-approved window boxes.

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