“Clear Thinking”

When I graduated from college, I had it in my head that I wanted a motorcycle. I’d had one for a short time during my freshman summer, but I wasn’t making any money and had to give it up. In January of 1972 I was twenty-one, single, and ready to chew up the world and spit it back. Still didn’t have a steady job.

My father and I were so much alike that we often butted heads. Dad and I both tended to have very short fuses and could fly off the handle at the drop of a hat…and few facts. Mom’s job seemed to be to arbitrate most of the time. This time, however, Dad decided to be much more pragmatic, and he sought help from a very different source.

A distant cousin of my mother’s was the president of a bank in a small town near us. I knew I’d have to get a loan for whatever I bought, so Dad simply told me we were going to see Cousin Boyd. Good, I thought. Can’t wait to get a pair of wheels under me.

It was a plot. I’m not really sure Boyd knew what was going on until we walked in the door, but Dad most likely called ahead to make an appointment and tell him what was going on. You’d think they had done this before.

Tell me “No” or “That can’t be done,” and I’ll more than likely give you a look that says, “Watch this,” and we’ll all see what happens. Get me to sit down and weigh all the facts, though, and I’m not as dumb as I seem. Boyd laid it all out for me. Dad just sat and listened. I don’t think he said a word.

–Do you plan to ride a motorcycle in the rain and snow? Still living in the Midwest, right?

–Do you have a means of carrying anything more than yourself on a bike?

–Do you never intend to take anyone with you (finished with dating, are you)?

–Oh, by the way, I’ll loan you “X” amount of money for a motorcycle, and “X++” for a used car.

Well, you figure it out. I had a four-door Chevy sedan the next day. Drove it the first two years Nancy and I were married, too, and traded it in for my first new car.

Sometimes it does pay to listen to your elders.

Seems odd that I am one now…elder, that is, so listen up!


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