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When Life Hands You a Lemon
and the torment of being an unhandy father.
Saturday, I helped my son purchase his first car. It’s 10 years old, of a respected make, has less than a 100k miles, and ran great when we test-drove it. The private owner was upfront about some work he’d put into it, and he struck me as an honest and knowledgeable guy. His Craigslist post described the vehicle’s condition as “excellent,” and it seemed pretty close to it.
We didn’t have too many reservations when we laid down the money, but by the time we got back home, at the end of a 45 minute drive, we were seeing multiple dashboard lights. Some of them didn’t make any sense, and one was legitimately scary. My sense is that they’re false flags from an electrical issue (the seller had mentioned fixing one recently), but the other feared possibility is that we purchased ourselves a lemon. I sure hope it’s not the case.
We should know this afternoon after the appointment I scheduled at a local dealership. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.
I’m trying to maintain a positive attitude about it. In fact, I was originally going to use this topic as a springboard for describing some of my most rewarding purchases of the past year… like the leaf-blower I don’t know how I lived without, that outdoor propane heater that’s letting us catch up with friends on our patio during the cold-weather covid months, and George Wallace’s latest comedy book that I keep on our coffee table and sporadically read from aloud (which drives my wife nuts).
Seriously, that last one paid for itself pretty quickly:
But I feel bad for my son, who worked hard to save up money for that car. And I feel guilty, as his father, for not being mechanically savvy enough to have possibly recognized some deal-breaking warning signs ahead of time. My own father was quite handy with cars back in the day, as he was many things (despite my mother once famously accusing him of “shabby workmanship”). But it wasn’t an interest I shared — something that has come back to haunt me on a number of occasions.
Honestly, beyond changing bulbs, wipers, and flats, I’m pretty much worthless when it comes to car know-how.
To be clear, my son’s not bummed at all. He loves the car, and is optimistic (perhaps naively) that things will be just fine. I certainly hope he’s right. If we need to put in some extra money to make things fine, I suppose it’s not the worst thing in the world (and my fatherly guilt would have me picking up at least a good chunk of that cost).
Ironically, the first car I purchased, at his age, was 10 years old as well. A 1980 Ford Mustang I picked up in high school. It looked awesome (at least I thought it did) with black paint, red interior, and cool little red pinstripes. I later pimped it out with chrome rims and a custom stereo.
It certainly had its share of problems (though they waited longer than 45 minutes to start presenting themselves), but I loved the thing nonetheless. I’m hoping for a similar relationship between my son and his new wheels, and that this is nothing more than a rocky start.
Again, your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.
Update: After I had written and scheduled today’s newsletter, I heard back from the seller. He’s offering to give us our money back if the dealership reports too terrible of news. That took a lot of weight off my mind, but we’re still hoping the purchase works out. We’ll know soon.
Movie Taste Crisis Averted
Last year in the ‘Daly Grind', I wrote a piece describing my concern that the health crisis, and the limited number of new movies that have been released during it, had robbed me of my ability to recognize bad films. I have since discovered that the skill is still within me, and I was able to exercise it over the weekend with The Little Things starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto.
The crime thriller is well-acted (Leto is very creepy), has a cool aura to it, and actually starts out pretty interesting. But there’s a lot of filler, and the story gets so absurd by the end that you have to wonder if it had been written on the fly. It was a disappointment.
However, I will recommend another recent film: Promising Young Woman. It stars no one you’d recognize, but it’s eerie, keeps your interest, and the ending is breathtaking in every sense of word.
Obligatory Dog Shot
One of my most unpopular music opinions is that The Guess Who was a better band than The Who. Believe me, I’ve taken a lot of heat online for that view (which I have some fun with), but I gotta call ‘em like I see ‘em.
No, The Guess Who wasn’t more popular, successful, or historically significant to rock… and most rock fans would scoff at even comparing the two, but my views on music aren’t so much influenced by notoriety. I go by what connects with me and what doesn’t.
The Guess Who’s music connects with me, from their big hits to their lesser known stuff. It’s raw, jammin’, and overflowing with soul… and it’s captured well on their Live at the Paramount album from 1972. I saw one of my favorite bands, Candlebox, perform at this iconic Seattle venue a couple years ago, and can actually see my seat from that night on the cover of this album (which I find kind of cool).
The highlight of the album is an epic, nearly 17 minute-long rendition of their legendary hit, American Woman. It blows the roof off the house.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!