When I hear that long hesitant phrase emanating from my sixteen-year-old son, I know that we’re going to be having one of those conversations. No, no, not one of those! What I mean is we’re going to have a talk that requires a response both deeply philosophical and impeccably logical. As in, “why do I have a curfew? Don’t you trust me, Dad?”
These kinds of questions demand that a father summon his most commanding presence and his deepest voice because the inquirer is seeking to upset the natural order of the universe, as defined by a Dad. When I hear that phrase, I brace myself and take a few deep, slow breaths to buy some time.
“So, Dad,” the fledgling lad continued. “When are you going to trade your car in?” He added eagerly, “Did you see the new Silverado?”
Okay, I will admit the question was not unexpected. My trusty Toyota just busted a mileage milestone: 180,000 miles. That vehicle has hauled more than a few special pieces of furniture from one store to another. And it has carried my boys and their pals to ball games all over town.
Why, the question alone makes me nostalgic! I’ve run a lot of red lights in that car trying to get my three sons where they need to be on time. Maybe it is starting to show its age, but I feel as though the car has just been broken-in. I’m comfortable in it. The last thing I need in my life is a new car.
Fortunately, this kind of question gives me the opportunity to hold forth at length on Dad’s Theories of Economics, the section on depreciating assets. My impressionable understudy is going to get an earful.
“Furniture!” I exclaim, “is always a worthy investment! A car is not.”
Furniture, I tell him, is the key to making a house a home, and a home is always a good investment. Ancient civilizations recognize the importance of furniture. After all, feng shui is all about energy, invisible forces and harmony to soothe the soul. New cars don’t offer the same spiritual solace. And, with three boys, we can’t even keep the new-car smell for more than a couple of weeks!
My son wandered off, crestfallen. Clearly, I’d won this round, but I expect the question will come up again when the odometer hits 200,000. But, rest assured, I’ll be prepared.