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11/3/06

Farewell, Ford Taurus...

After the recent news that Ford is discontinuing production of its Taurus model family sedan, I began reminiscing. Not only my first car, but my first two cars were Tauruses (Tauri?). The first was gray, and the second was red. I don't have much recollection of the gray one, other than the natural fondness toward a first car. And I don't remember why it was got rid of. My guess is, the transmission went out, but I'm not certain. I know both cars were formerly my dad's company cars that he bought for a good price when his company's leases on them ran out. But it's the red one that I had a real connection with.

I liked the red one a lot better. It was a '93, so it didn't have as much of the "bubble" look as the gray '88 model. Plus, red is a better than gray. Although, it wasn't exactly "red". It was more like a mixture of 2 parts red, 2 parts salmon, and 1 part burgundy. Most importantly, the red car (that's what we called it in the family) had more get-up-and-go than the gray car. Of course, I'm still talking about a Ford Taurus, so I'm absolutely speaking relatively.

I've got tons of road trip stories from that red Taurus. In high school, my friends, Kyle and G, and I kept the Taco Bell at 192nd & Center in business with our virtually nightly trips. And I usually had to drive. (If you guys read this, don't try to deny it.) Or there was the time in college when we packed 7 people into my 6-passenger vehicle for the 3-hour trip from Lincoln to Kansas City (and back again) to go to Worlds of Fun. Of those 7, 4 of us were guys, including 2 that were well over 6 feet tall. Then there was another time in college when my roommate Jim and I drove from Lincoln to Miami in one stretch so we could watch the Huskers demolish Peyton Manning and Tennessee in the Orange Bowl. It didn't stop us when we realized around Kansas City that the brake pads were totally worn down, and thus we had to rely on screws grinding rotors to stop us while driving through the Smoky Mountains. It was New Year's Eve and no repair shops were open, so all we could do was turn around and go home or keep heading south. So, we kept going and when we got to Orlando at 8:00 a.m., we found a repair shop, got the brakes replaced, got gouged on the price, and made it to Miami in time to spend an hour at the beach on January 1 before heading to the stadium. Of course, there's also the period of time with the car that is associated with Suzanne. It was the car I was driving while we dated. It was the car I drove to the hotel after our wedding and the car we took our honeymoon in. And it was our car for the first year of our marriage.

Like I said, I have more memories associated with that car than would fit in its very spacious trunk compartment. If I had to point out a problem with it, I guess it would be that the car sucked. Or, to put it more objectively, it was the worst piece of machinery ever allowed to transport human beings. There was always something breaking down, always something wrong with it (like the brakes). The transmission had to be replaced three times--IN ONE SUMMER! (One of those times, I was on another road trip, in a caravan with some friends on our way to Colorado, and I had to sheepishly call my dad, on Father's day, and ask him to drive over 200 miles to bring me my mom's car and tow mine away on his trailer, which he did, which was awesome.) It seemed like once a month I had to replace some belt or hose. And it had to get repainted once because of a defect in the factory paint job. The thing was a total pain in the neck.

Like with any relationship, I guess I have to take the bad with the good. Some people say their glass of water is half-full and some people say their glass of water is half-empty. And, some people say, "Hey, I wanted orange juice, not water." I guess it would have been cool to have a mustang in high school and college like my friend Ryan did. But then there's no way I would have had some experiences, like loading up 6 friends and going to Worlds of Fun for the day, or any of the countless others that I don't have time to write about and you don't have patience to read about.

More often than I care to admit, I get frustrated with the lot God has given me, but in retrospect, I've been so blessed that I'm ashamed of the times I've complained. If I was in the Ph.D. program at SLU right now, I certainly wouldn't be getting to spend my days with Gracie. But even that is a kind of shallow way of looking at life.

Sometimes I look at the good things and circumstances in my life that God has given me as the way things should be, taking them for granted. And I look at the bad things and circumstances that He gives me as troublesome intrusions on the status quo, taking them as unjust affliction. But really life shouldn't be measured by the things or circumstances God gives us. Paul had a better perspective when he said, "Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:7-8). After all, it is not the gifts of things that are the measure of God's love for us, but The Gift of Himself. It is not that God loved the world so much that He gave us good things and pleasant circumstances. No, we are told that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son" (John 3:16). It is the gift of a Person, and His personal love, that makes life good. Our relationship with Christ is, I suppose, the only relationship in which we don't have any bad to take with the good.

Okay, for those of you brave enough to have suffered through the excruciating detail of my recollections of my Ford Taurus, here's a treat for you: a classic Conan O'Brien skit about his Ford Taurus (showing yet another reason why we should be pals).



(Sorry, it's not the best video quality, but it's the only one on YouTube.)

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G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."