my dad: perpetual adolescent

I had just walked into my gym this morning when my phone rang. It was my dad, calling to shoot the shit and see how I was doing. We talked for at least a half hour about Johnny Carson, and how much we both had loved his show. Actually, we had a similar conversation about a year ago, when we were discussing who was better, Leno or Letterman (we both agreed on Letterman).

Since he's in Cleveland, I just had to chide him a bit on the weather they've been having across the midwest and east coast. At the moment, he's driving a hotrod Cadillac CTS, which is more or less his Fun Toy. If you have no idea what a Cadillac CTS looks like, here you go:

It's actually a badass car...I love driving them. They've got buttloads of power, go like stink and are a blast to go tearing around in. There's a reason why my dad won't let me drive his...it's because he's the one who taught me how to drive, and he knows exactly what I'd do behind the wheel of his car because he does it himself on a daily basis.

He's no fool.

So I had to laugh when he started complaining about the StabiliTrak system in that car. For those of you who have no idea what that is, StabiliTrak is a traction stabilizing system that continually monitors wheel speed and steering wheel angle, yaw rate and lateral acceleration, and brake and throttle pressure. If the system decides your driving sucks and needs intervention, it prevents you from hurting yourself by engaging the brakes or accelerating your dumb ass out of trouble. Unfortunately, this also means it won't let you have any fun by spinning donuts in a snowy parking lot. As soon as you build up speed and cut the wheel to go flying in circles, the anti-lock brakes engage, the engine's power is cut, and you grind to an abrupt halt.

What's the point of having a powerful, front-engined, rear wheel-drive American car if you can't spin it sround in snowy parking lots? The weather may be crappy, but there's no reason why you can't have any fun. I mean, the one good thing about blizzards is you get to go to the mall and spin donuts in the parking lot until you puke. I remember my dad doing that back in the winter of 1974 in his badassssss '70 Montego when I was a little kid. I mean, this car was just tits. I loved it. We were laughing our asses off, that massive hunk of Mercury Detroit iron flying all over the place, just me and dad, tires howling and spinning, everything outside just spinning around, and "Radar Love" by Golden Earring cranked up and booming out of the AM radio tuned to the famous WIXY-1260 (a legendary AM radio station...I still remember the old jingle).

My god, I just dated myself. And if there was any ever doubt that I'm from Cleveland, Ohio...well, there you go. I'm just a gay car kid from Cleveland who likes to do asinine things with automobiles on occasion. It's either that or crack. :-)

Anyway, our conversation went something like this:

Dad: Ya know what sucks?
Chad: When there's a goddamn putz in front of you on the shoreway with an oilburning engine that stinks up your air conditioner? (his exact words, and one of his pet peeves)
Dad: Even worse than that.
Chad: Hitting a deer on Route 306?
Dad: Worse.
Chad: You farting and then locking all the windows, effectively hotboxing us all in the car while we gag?
Dad: (chuckles)
Chad: Asshole. I hated it when you did that.
Dad: I thought it was funny.
Chad: I'm sure you did. I never understood why your farts smelled worse than the goddamn steel mills.
Dad: Hey, that was the smell of jobs!
Chad: No, that was the smell of Gram's holubky rotting in your intestines, dad.
Dad: (chuckles again) Hey, Slovak food does that to you. But seriously, wanna know what sucks?
Chad: What?
Dad: Not being able to spin any goddamn donuts in a fucking parking lot because the stupid traction control thingie in the Caddy won't let me.
Chad: Fuck, that's right! Did you try to shut it off?
Dad: Hell yeah I did, but it kept turning itself back on, piece of shit.
Chad: You must have scared it then. Hmmm...I know there's a way to bypass it, fuck...can't remember. I'll google it and let you know.
Dad: Well, I tried at least ten times. Mr. and Mrs. [old friends of my parents, I've known them over 25 years] were in the back somewhat terrified, and [my mom] was egging me on.
Chad: Mom was egging you on?
Dad: Yeah, can you believe it?
Chad: (laughing) Usually she'd start hollering at you.
Dad: I don't know what got into her.
Chad: So what were [my parents' friends] doing? Were they seeing what brown can do for them? (I am so glad UPS dropped that ad slogan)
Dad: (snorts) Nah, they were laughing. Just rolling their eyes at me.
Chad: Dad, how old are you now, 62?
Dad: I don't give a shit how old I am, you know I feel like I'm 25.
Chad: But you act like you're 16.
Dad: Nothing wrong with that.
Chad: You're right...don't change. Don't ever, ever change.

I love my dad. He was so stupid when I was a teenager. We fought all the time. Yet somehow, between the time I was 18 to when I was about 24 he became one of the most brilliant people I know. Or maybe, it was me who was the dumbass the whole time.

That's probably it.

Today, he's one of the coolest people I know; someday I'll write about when I came out to him and told him I was gay. It was a make-or-break moment, and his reaction not only showed great courage and maturity, not to mention what kind of man he is, it also showed how much he loves his family. That, to me, is what a real man and being a father is all about.

Now, I said I'd find out how to disable that stupid StabiliTrak so he can have his fun. I found it here, seems an automotive writer ran into the same dilemma:

"...doughnuts were simply impossible. Even after gaining speed and cutting the steering wheel sharply, I never got more than a quarter turn before the system stopped the car’s motion, clamped the throttle and shut me down completely. StabiliTrak is the ultimate buzzkill. The same button in the glove box that defeats the traction control will disable StabiliTrak if you hold it down for several seconds. In the name of A/B comparison testing, I switched off that sucker and had a grand old time."

I can't wait to tell dad.



At 23:06, Blogger wah said...

you have such a cool relationship
with your dad. i didn't get to
know mine before he passed. and
i can't really get in a conversation
wth my mom without her yelling at me.
she doesn't like me much. oh well.
i used to think it was so weird
whenever i'd see one of my friends
or cousins get along with their
parents. must be nice.

At 01:29, Blogger Jase said...

Your dad's awesome - great post.

At 08:47, Blogger Pearl Fang said...

What a great great story.
My dad is amazing too. Its not very often you hear of the good parents. I guess I should be inspired to write about how great my dad is, but I'll probably just complain more about people I don't like. So that makes you better than me. As always.

At 09:01, Blogger Michael said...

Doing donuts in the parking lot. Ahh, takes me back to the '68 Ford Fairlane I had in Highshool...sweet!
Great post!
Tell your mom I said hi.


At 10:56, Blogger Jeff said...

So YOU'RE the guy talking on his cell phone at the gym about some car...Geez, some people!

J/K - Great post.

At 12:04, Blogger Neil said...

damn you are a multifaceted 'mo...a rev head as well as all the rest....i love this story and your father...he is the dude !!!!

At 16:41, Blogger Mariana said...

You're so lucky to have such a wonderful family...it's great that you can appreciate them too. :)

At 17:14, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Hey!

I actually test drove a Cadillac CTS this past weekend. A neighbour is considering this as HIS next toy. Talk about a smooth powerful car. I loved it!

Glad to read about others that have a wonderful relationships with their fathers. My mother said that they were watching a tv show and a guy popped on screen and my father said, "Yeah, that's the kind of guy I picture Xavier being with...!" Imagine that?

Anyway, hope you're having a great week!




At 16:14, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your dad.


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