Last Friday, the drive home from work was a regular one. Nothing out of the ordinary except that their was a marked change in the weather. Seventy-five degrees beautiful. My Wrangler is still fully skinned so I was completely surrounded by this awesome weather. I can see why dogs like poking their faces out the car window. Just a month ago we were still experiencing near 100 degree highs, which is 12 or more degrees of relief from the month before that.
Here in Vegas, we locals joke about having only two seasons of weather: hellish hot or North Pole cold (although I’m informed by my Minnesota and North Dakota friends that I don’t have clue about cold weather). There is no Spring and Fall. For Las Vegas, what might be misinterpreted as Spring and Fall lasts about two weeks. Maaaybe three. That’s it.
I made the final turn onto my street and up ahead I could see a bright red, antique of a car pulled up in a driveway. It looked to be close to my condo so my curiosity was piqued. As I came closer I could see that it was in the driveway of my next door neighbor’s condo. In a word: spectacular!
The 1930 Cadillac LaSalle. It was gorgeous.
My neighbor and his father were out polishing the chrome and buffing the paint as they had just pulled it off of it’s trailer.
I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t remember my neighbor’s name. A shame that is magnified by the fact the he remembers mine. How does he do this? It’s difficult to remember a person’s name when you might only talk to them a handful of times a year and only in passing at that. I suppose this is evidence of my unneighborly demeanor. It’s true I keep the shades drawn year round for privacy but I’m not a bad neighbor. I’m quiet, respectful of my neighbors’ property and parking, and I keep the place in respectable condition. No eyesore here (on the outside anyway). But I make no effort to know my neighbors. I never hang out in the yard because…well, because I have no reason to. The front yard is cared for by the Association so the opportunity to run into a neighbor while manicuring the yard is nonexistent. The aforementioned weather extremes don’t lend themselves to my luxuriating in the out-of-doors, so again, not much chance of casual meetings. And the truth is: this suits me just fine.
Ok, back to our story.
I pulled my 1995, oxidized-hood-paint and clear-coat-peeling Wrangler into my side of our adjacent driveways. Although it’s looks are nothing to be desired, my Jeep is awesome and I love it.
Upon hopping out, my nameless neighbor cordially greets me with a smiling “Hey Bill! This is my father Lyle.”
Grrr…what is your NAME?
With a big smile and hello I shake hands with Lyle. A white-haired tall man. Judging by the approximate age of his son and by Lyle’s visible cues, I guessed him to be in his mid to late 70s. He seemed still spry and definitely talkative. I could tell he worked with his hands … they felt slightly callused when we shook. I work on a computer all day so my hands are girlishly soft. It’s embarrassing.
Lyle told me about the car: It took him 12 years to restore; it has a V-8 vacuum engine (thankfully Google filled me in on what the hell that meant); there’s one factory in the United States that collected the patterns for all the extinct tires for old cars like his and you can still special order tires for your make and model; if he couldn’t find a blinker light or ornament trim, there’s a factory that will build a mold and fabricate one for you; it has a kick ass Rumble Seat; there’s a special compartment built for a sole purpose: to store golf clubs. He went on to explain that back then, if a man drove a Cadillac, of course he’d be a golfer.
Talking to Lyle was awesome, but I kept it short because I could tell they were trying to finish detailing the car before the daylight was lost.
I politely said my goodbyes and walked into the house.
I took a moment to hit replay in my head. What I had just experienced was a simple moment in time, a non-event that I could’ve casually overlooked as incidental, but I chose to give it more thought because it felt like there was more here. And these are some of the things I thought about …
• It’s pretty cool how unnamed neighbor and his dad still have things in common and do things together.
• It’s pretty cool that unnamed neighbor, who has had a stellar career (he is a retired jet fighter pilot and current commercial airline pilot), is so down-to-earth. He is a super cool gentleman and always stops what he’s doing to say hello when we cross paths. I’d like to be that cool when/if I grow up (I’m 47).
• It’s pretty cool that both men seem to be actively living their lives outside of their dens and dining rooms, choosing not to watch programming during what I consider to be the most shameful and embarrassing times in American television (details in a July 2012 rant).
• I hope that someday I can find some comfortable common ground with my father.
• I hope that my life will eventually lead to something more carefree and ultimately fulfilling.
• I hope that I can build an oeuvre that will last beyond my days and be a proud legacy.
• I hope that my life will have touched others positively.
• Life’s pretty cool.