Certainly, in a lifetime of experiences, there’s no question that, when it comes to the most pleasurable, the first-time ones are the most exhilarating. Depending on the number of times you have a particular experience, there is the potential for it to become rather ho-hum.
As for me, while I still enjoy driving — a good thing for me since my job requires it — no sensation I have driving now really matches the first time some 53 years ago when I slid behind the wheel of that brand-new 1966 Corvair ragtop, a car my dad decided we needed in our Latham Avenue driveway, before heading out to grab my buddy Greg Swick for some serious cruisin’.
Really, as I age, I have to smile a bit whenever I hear on the radio John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane,” a musical tale about those youthful days of yore growing up in a small town, no doubt, inspired by the singer’s own upbringing in Seymour, Indiana. The lyric that always grabs me a bit is the couplet, “Oh, yeah, life goes on/Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone.”
Mellencamp with that rhyme recognizes for me, what is undeniable, and that is the potential for the banalities of life to overwhelm, so much so, that as we age, there are only so many “first times” to feel that “I’m-alive” exhilarating feeling. I’m talking about a feeling like the one I had when, with my buddy Swickie in the passenger bucket, I put the top down and cranked up all 50,000 watts of CKLW. You remember that station, don’t you, the one certainly in the conversation when it comes to the county’s greatest rock and roll stations of the 1960s? In those cruising times, we wanted everyone within earshot to be able to hear every word of every crazy verse of Richard Harris’ “MacArthur Park.”
However, in early September when I started to get that familiar itch to change out my car, I found my excitement grow despite the fact that I’ve been through this car-buying experience almost a dozen times in my life.
Over the years, I’ve pretty much covered the car-buying canvas going all the way back to an era when Dinah Shore was singing, “See the USA in your Chevrolet.” I’ve bought from pretty much all the locals, from that Knock-Your-Socks-Off Guy to Allan Nott to Mr. Reineke and even out-of-towners like Nelson Treadway and then on to dealerships bearing names like El-Par, Timmerman and Pruitt now obsolete.
However, for the past decade or so, I’ve become a one-dealership man, Lima Auto Mall, as well as a loyal Chevy man, and this time, I ended up with a 2020 Equinox. My new-car itch was scratched just in time to point that new Equinox west with my Lady Jane riding shotgun in the direction of our fall vacation destination, both the Dakotas and Wyoming, in mid-October. On our trip, I loved the vehicle’s comfort and size, the gas mileage and the new safety features.
While I do tend to agree with John Mellencamp’s lyric when it comes to so much of what used to excite me, what isn’t on that list for me is sliding behind the wheel of a brand new ride and filling my nostrils with a mighty draft of that unmistakable automotive newness.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.