They say the only difference between men and boys is the cost of their toys. Makes sense to me. Certainly this toy was costly, and not just in dollars. Just as certainly, it is a toy. Oh, I’ll call it a tool and write it off my taxes. But there is really no reason I could not have written this in a more traditional notebook and typed it in later. This is not essential, just a convenience.
A convenience that cost me four times what I paid for my first car. Of course, I’m old enough and from a background where a first car was something you bought from someone who knew it was just about to die. Then you and your buddies got together with Dad’s tools and started working on it. No computers in a 1972 Datsun. We started easy and changed the oil. Then the sparkplugs. Pretty soon we learned how to do a valve job. We spent ten hours to accomplish what a pro would have finished in fifteen minutes.
But that was the fun of it. We laughed and sweated, bloodied knuckles and talked about girls that would have been happy to talk to us if we just would have given them the same consideration we gave a straight-six or a v-8. We snuck into the old man’s beer and he pretended not to notice.
I don’t know for sure that this is not still a part of Americana. Certainly the part about the girls is. Maybe 16 year olds know more about the internet now than internal combustion, but knowing how to make a webpage is in some ways similar to knowing how to rebuild a carburetor. I’m pretty sure my son will consider girls just as much a mystery as his old man did. I’m pretty sure that I’ll pretend not to notice the occasional missing beer.
One thing that does seem to be missing a little in this new age of blogs and boards though is the image of a bunch of kids sitting around the garage. I know that the learning part of it, the sharing experiences, is still there. And I’ve come to know that the electronic barriers can be overcome easily enough. This trip is part of it. I’m pretty sure that my kids will have a wider base of knowledge to work off at 16. Certainly today’s internet means that some of the things about girls will be less of a mystery.
But I’ll still let myself believe that they are missing something. It is the prerogative of each generation to believe that it was their youth that was the real good old days.