I just hung up from a call with Nicole, the insurance agent who’s handled my family’s home insurance, and all of my father’s other insurance for many years. I was letting her know he’d moved from his apartment and wouldn’t need to renew his condo policy.
Then I told her about his car. He’s finally giving it up.
While it isn’t a good feeling to be the person giving up one’s ride, this is without question a good moment for the planet. Not “religion out of government” good, but definitely “everyone in Massachusetts is safer” good.
In his eighties my father began buying a new car about every 18 months, always white because his partner, The Trollop, insisted on white cars driving her from place to place. This was not a problem for a man who refuses to see grime on the surface of objects, or in the moral fiber of people he chooses as partners.
So I got used to seeing him drive up in some new car, always white, and hear the story of why he’d needed to trade in the last one.
“Well the damn thing was too loud. So much road noise! I couldn’t hear the Trollop when she was talking.”
“You won’t wear your hearing aids. You’re blaming road noise?”
At one point he bought a Honda CRV and had the floor sound-insulated at some place that must have seen him coming.
“$900 and I can hardly tell the difference!”
“Have you tried putting in your hearing aids? Also, why would you want to hear the Trollop?”
So he traded that in for something different - I can’t remember, because they were all white and all sort of the same shape - and this one promised new, advanced safety features.
“Well, the adaptive cruise control works! I tried to hit a bus in Harvard Square and the car stopped on its own!”
In fact, each car he bought had increasing safety and security measures, like lane departure warnings, collision mitigation braking systems, and adaptive cruise control. With the exception of the adaptive cruise control he disabled all of these features within a couple of weeks of purchase because, "the fucking alarms keep going off, and they warn you way too early."
Of course, each new car also meant hooking up his phone to the bluetooth, which usually went something like this:
Me: Hello Dad.
Dad: Hello Marj. Never mind - I'm just trying this new phone system. I can't figure it out.
Me: Dad, what if you called your home number? Then you could see if it was working without calling me.
Dad: But how would you know if I'd figured it out?
Me: Why do I need to know this?
Me: Hello Dad
Dad: Nope. It didn't work.
Me: You weren't trying to call me?
Dad: Well, not really. Now how do you hang this thing u...
Me: Dad? Dad?
Me: I swear to god I'm going to kill you if you keep doing this.
Dad: What does this button do? It has a backwards arrow.
Me: I can't see what button you're looking at - wait, are you driving?
Dad: I'm in the parking lot. What happens if I do this?
Me: What parking lot? Dad? Hello?
Me: I can have you put away, you know.
Dad: It's not syncing. Jesus, I might have to RTFM.
Me: You haven't even tried to read the manual yet?
Dad: Of course not - why would I do......
Me: Seriously, dad, I have to work. I'm so behind.
Dad: Even I am behind in things! Have I told you about the book I’m reading on the Byzantine Empire?
Me: No, you haven't. That sounds great, but could we talk about it this weekend when I see you? I'm in the middle of... hello?
Dad: I might have to figure this out later. This is taking up a lot of time.
His last white car, the one he’s giving up, was purchased in 2019, and given it’s now four years later that’s quite a testament to inertia, how being in your 90s cools your fire for going to car dealerships, and the reason he bought it.
It’s a Volvo, the most expensive car in the series of white cars, and he bought it because it had a 360 camera but, unlike the Toyota with the 360 camera, it also had some feature or another he deemed better and quieter.
He needed the 360 camera because he kept “rubbing things.”
Me: You mean hitting things.
Dad: No. Hitting is much faster and harder. I’m just rubbing them. And it’s not even that often.
Trollop: HE RUBS THINGS ALL THE TIME.
I’m choosing to think that last was a combination of needing to be included, tattling on him, and her general yelly, intrusive nature, and not some internal, demented Only Fans reel breaking through.
I told Nicole that dad would be giving his car to Thing 2, so that he could sell his own ancient car and use the Volvo for a trade in for a new car
“Thing 2 doesn’t want to keep it?”
“Nicole,” I explained, “It’s been four years of rubbing things.”
“But at least it’s white?”
“When you rub enough things with a white car, Nicole, you end up with a rolling Jackson Pollock.
While your own industry claims that 25% of consumers also mysteriously choose white for their cars, 75% of people have cars that are myriad other colors that transfer to the thing that rubbed them. Add to that the warning hues of barrier posts and stanchions, and of course the earth tones of cement, stone, and brick walls and garage ramps, and you really have quite a mural.
This is not what a 28-year-old would drive if he had a choice. I already told him we’re going to have to spend a day with white touch-up paint before getting a trade-in estimate.”
“But…” I hear keys clacking “Your father didn’t put in any claims.”
“Nicole, one would need two things to put in a claim: The awareness that one had rubbed something, and the give-a-shit to think that mattered enough to require remedy.”
“That’s not usually how people do things - I mean, usually they, well...”
“Usually they don’t rub things?”
“Yes. At least not as regularly.”
“I understand.” I wonder if it was better that I called her on a Friday afternoon than on a Monday?
“Should I add Thing 2 as a driver until he takes over the title?”
Normally I’d have said no. An added expense for a few weeks before transfer of ownership when all we’d have to say, should he be in an accident, was that Thing 2 was not a regular driver of the vehicle. But that seemed cruel.
“Oh thank you!”
Remind me to send her something nice next week.
Recently I bought a tea towel.
I started pondering the difference between a dishtowel and a tea towel, and then wondered why I spelled one with a space and one without. Which made me wonder what kind of a hollow mind would wonder such things, which reminded me I need to read more.
At any rate, all of the expected sites - Good Housekeeping, The Spruce, Southern Living - had information about tea towels vs (that’s VERSUS, kids - “verse” is the thing in the middle of a song) dishtowels, and it turns out that they’re practically the same unless you’re British (see: fanny pack) or it’s made of terry cloth. If you’re a Brit, it’s only ever a tea towel, and if the thing is made of terry cloth, it’s definitely a dishcloth or dishtowel, because tea towels are possibly for drying dishes, but they’re also for wrapping around and keeping items such as baked goods and tea pots warm. You wouldn’t want loose terries getting onto your bread or into your tea.
This website has very strong opinions about the matter, and includes the helpful information that “Tea towels are larger than kitchen towels but smaller than bath towels.” So right away we know not to take one into the shower thinking we can wrap ourselves like so much brioche and expect to get dry.
The site proclaims tea towels a posh piece of expressionism with ties to Vincent Van Gogh. Once I knew how upscale I’d become I dug out the old silver tray to celebrate my new-found fanciness.
There's something especially and hilariously threatening about that particular tea towel message displayed along with an elegant-looking tea setup, for two, where only one cup is filled...
In all seriousness, that picture is perfectly composed and you could sell it to the company for marketing purposes.
Primo post as usual. Thanks for all you do.
Another wonderful story for the "dad catalog" But I really came here to write I need to know where to get those bar napkins.... You had me spit coffee on my dog this morning with that picture