No, this is not a post about J-Lo’s derriere, Lady Gaga’s bucket, or Nicki Minaj’s posterior. (Although put a headband on them and game over.)
In British parlance, I’m talking about the boot. For Porsches, it’s located in the hood. Speaking plainly, for those of us not driving 911s or living in the U.K., I’m referring to your good old trunk of a car.
The cars that my parents owned during childhood were aplenty. And most of them seemed to require an inordinate amount of maintenance.
The earliest lemon we owned that I can recall was a silver AMC wagon with wood paneling. I’m not sure if this car ever started. I just remember it sitting in the carport a lot and my parents stifling curse words within earshot of me and my brother.
As Asian imports began to gain in popularity following the gas shortage crisis triggered by OPEC and oversized American cars, my family chose a sky blue (or maybe it was grey?) Datsun over a Honda. Bad mistake. My dad used to place a light with a hook in the engine to keep it warm during cold Granite State winter nights. It made a lot of sense to me back then: the light was hot, it was cold outside, so naturally the engine should turn over when my dad tried to start it the next day. It makes a lot more sense to me now because my dad did a lot of weird things like that in retrospect. In any event, the Datsun also seemed to spend a lot of time in the carport.
Next up, we transitioned to a Volkswagen Beetle. It was yellow. And it had a really cool sticker of a bass fish on the back. I think it had a stick. And of course, the trunk was in the front. I don’t recall that car sticking around for very long, though, either.
Finally, my parents returned to the home country’s vehicles with a long string of American vehicles. Mostly GM products.
The forest green Impala had a long tenure at 2 Bert Street. I remember lots of trips to and from New York. A highlight was anytime we passed the Polar Bear billboard in Worcester. I also remember lots of uncomfortably hot naps with my face leaning into the hard plastic of my sister’s car seat. Now that car had a sizable trunk. No Thule racks for my original family of five. The trunk fit everything and the kitchen sink. We even threw a canoe on top when a fishing expedition ensued occasionally.
Sometime thereafter, we had a battleship grey Chevy Celebrity station wagon. Before getting my license, I used to sit in the far back seat facing traffic traveling behind us. Even with the seat there, our bags would be stacked Tetris-style around me as I stared out the rear hatchback. Once 16 arrived, I got pulled over for doing neutral drops at red lights on Maple Street in Manchester with that ride.
Somewhere along the way, Chevy models came and went: Lumina, Corsica, Malibu, and Caprice Classic. My dad really upgraded when he scored an Olds 88 with a sun roof and leather seats.
The one constant throughout all of the rides used by my dad? A ton of miscellaneous items stored at all times in the trunk. Sporting equipment of all types but definitely balls from most any sport, a stickball bat, a Frisbee, and a racquetball racquet. Jumper cables. First aid kit. Fishing gear. A bottle of wine. Tools. Work files and folders. A winter coat. Extra sneakers. WD-40 and quarts of oil. A spare tire that probably would not have fit on the car in question. A box of recyclables for the next trip to the town dump. Soft cover books on philosophy or haikus and hardcover treatises on workers compensation law. “You gotta have backup,” is one of the many mantras my patriarch is known to announce.
None of this would surprise anyone who knows my father. He is the same man whose only luggage checked on the plane during our most recent pilgrimage to Key West was a makeshift portable cornhole board folded in half, which contained assorted tools and plastic bags of screws and bolts so he could complete assembly once we arrived at our condo.
Before I go too far with the razzing, however, I am reminded of the old saying about glass houses and throwing stones. To my amazement and dismay, the trunk of my own current Malibu (not the baby blue 78 Chevelle I drove to college) has evolved into a 2014 version of my youth. Multiple frisbees? Check. Racquetball racquet? Check. Jumper cables? Check. You get the picture. The only major differences appear to be my golf bag (Grizz isn’t a fan of the sport) and my cold weather sleeping bag. (Hey, you never know when that could come in handy.)
Well, at least in this isolated sample of quirky automotive antics, I suppose we have a clear example of like father, like son. A chip off the old block. Following in the footsteps.
Maybe some day, my little Gus man will be giving me shit for all the junk in my trunk. That will make me smile.
Dad, if you’re reading this, I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day in 2014. I am not embarrassed to follow your example. (I've even started wearing dark socks with shorts and sneakers.) I love you.
Now, if you could only teach me how to hit that hook shot while holding a glass of wine, smoking a cigar, while wearing a v-neck sweater and loafers…