Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Asthmatic Squirrel

Old Town Chuck is very proud of his 1960-something VW bug.


He managed to drive it in some manner not clearly defined, all the way to my house, which is a quick and mindless thirty minute ride on my Bonneville from his place.


It's a bit like driving an asthmatic squirrel the proud new owner said to me as we pulled into traffic on Highway One, all bearings whirring, all valves driving as hard as they could.


Windows wide open we had lots of fresh air ruffling our hair and making conversation as inaudible and labored as though we were five thousand feet up in a varnished plywood biplane.


"Wha...?" the pilot shouted, leaning perilously toward me as I made some inconsequential remark about our progress. "Damned headwinds," Chuck shouted. "The alignment is a bit off," he added wiggling the wheel alarmingly to illustrate the squirrrel's latest mechanical shortcoming exposed on the long drive to my house.


It felt like we were traveling at the speed, if not of Higg's boson, at least then the speed of light. Not so, said a school bus with great authority. Chuck's manhood was at stake and he pressed his bare foot harder on the accelerator which produced more whirring noises which promised only immediate annihilation.


The bus went smoothly on it's way. We rattled along struggling to reach the double nickel speed limit as we went.


My friends buy car tires and I am required to admire them. This car came from California by truck and now has brand new whitewall tires to permit it to travel on it's own wheels. Lovely I'm sure.


No air conditioning seems like torture to me in summer (I love air conditioning wherever and whenever). Chuck, determined to embrace tropical living at it's most authentic, shrugs. He plans to drive the squirrel maybe 5,000 miles a year mostly around town and do his own maintenance as a self respecting engineer should.


His car also attracts attention, a fatal flaw in my book but he squealed in delight as this photographer swiveled from the ocean view to view the 1965 VW.


It is lovely of course and we all have our memories of our early years making these air cooled People's Cars do our bidding. I took my first honeymoon driving from San Francisco to Glacier National Park driving one of these things and it never gave us a moment's trouble.


Nevertheless as Chuck took his family back home to the safety of Old Town I reflected that I am not an old car driver anymore.


Chuck says, and he's right, that modern cars are designed to become a smoking heap of obsolescence in a dozen years from new. But for a motorcyclist like me a car, as a useful tool needs ease of use, comfort and modern reliability be useful. Heaven help me if I ever get the idea that I can keep an old, but lovely bag of nuts and bolts running like the engineer Chuck can. Hats off everyone!




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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

VW engines are easily jacked up with more horsepower, so Chuck can modify as needed and become as manly as necessary.

Chuck and the Pheebs said...

That woyld be quite improper, said the purist. Better to get the most from the least...