[All I can say is that when I wrote this seven years ago, I had NO IDEA what “high maintenance” really was. Looking back now, I marvel at how easy everything seemed to be when I was “only” fifty. Originally published June 25, 2008.]
Last year, our nine-year-old car was having some issues and Ann suggested that maybe it was time to let it go to Honda heaven. I disagreed, arguing that even though it had become a “high-maintenance” vehicle, requiring thousands of dollars a year in parts and repairs, it still had a lot of good miles left in it. After all, the car still gets us where we need to go — albeit, with a few more creaks and groans along the way.
Am I being sentimental? Probably. After all, I have more sympathy for the condition of my car since I, too, have become something of a high-maintenance vehicle. The days of care-free transportation to wherever I wanted to go are over. Now, every time I think about venturing forth, I have to check all the instruments, listen to and evaluate a number of strange sounds and sensations, and consider whether I want to be stuck miles from home standing by the side of the road waiting for AAA.
It’s too bad, because I’ve always taken pride in keeping the old machine humming along through my own preventative care, without needing to make frequent visits to the mechanic. Now, I’m all too ready to seek advice and presumptive remedies from anyone who’ll listen. If there were a “Car Talk” for runners, I’d be calling Click and Clack every week, trying to describe the latest idiosyncrasies afflicting my running.
I used to be the guy with the new car in the driveway; now I’m the annoying neighbor who has a worn-out junker on blocks in the backyard, surrounded by engine parts. How did this happen?
And yet, just like the guy who comes home after work to spend another couple of hours trying to get his old Pontiac to run again, I am not without hope. In my mind, I still imagine harnessing a powerful internal combustion engine to cruise up and down the boulevards with a kind of controlled fury, inspiring admiration and envy. All I need is a new carburetor and spark plugs, adjust the timing, save up for some new wheels…
The male mid-life crisis often expresses itself as a desire for a hotter car (or a younger mate). For me, those temptations have little hold on my imagination. But that far-away look in my eyes, that distracted mood that strikes from time to time, that’s me thinking about running really fast again, without having to wonder about worrisome new noises, odd smells, and unhealthy vibrations every time I pull out of the driveway.
In the mean time, I’ll keep tinkering.
Being “high-maintenance” is still better than being scrap metal.