Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Your delight is mine

Kyle, I was glad to see you when I picked you up from work today, I was amused when you described the classic Volkswagen Beetle you saw on your bus ride this morning and I was giddy when you spotted the car waiting for you outside the dealership in Rockaway.

"It's still there!" you shouted.

You surprised me when you asked me to pull our van into the dealership's narrow parking lot so we could look at your dream car. You know, of course, that acts of spontaneity contrast the common opinion of you and your personality. The people who know you will repeat, 'Make sure you call Kyle before you visit him -- he needs warning.' or 'Kyle likes everything planned out and everyone to stick to the schedule.'

We construct these images of others and then it's sorry, this is who you are; this is your role. i do not expect you to ever deviate from my already-conceived, now-immutable notions about you. therefore, i will not let you.

So my own surprise at your request bothered me. Even more so when I remembered the twenty-five model Beetles you grouped in twos and threes atop your television and book shelf and end table and the dresser next to your front door and in other tucked-away locations around your living room like a page of an Eye-Spy book. Sometimes when I visit, I try to count them, but I always lose track or forget if I have counted that one already.

Kyle, I am sorry for underestimating your adventurousness.

When we stopped, you popped out of the car quicker than you did a few months ago after we parked at a McDonald's on Route 10 and you saw a pay phone, one of many formerly vital relics that remain in parking lots around New Jersey like the aqueducts across Europe. I knew pay phones fascinate you, but you confused me when you disappeared behind the van. I didn't realize where you had gone until you ran back and informed me that there was no dial tone.

This time I made sure to witness your enchantment. Here is the car you adored since you were six-years-old!

I listened to you emit that rumbling buzz you make when you are excited and I heard you chant 'Volkswagen, volkswagen, volkswagen' in a low whisper as you approached the obsidian automobile and gazed at its spotless mirrored parts.

"Look at those hubcaps!"

They're beautiful, I said. And the small chrome domes were beautiful, especially when I saw you hold your hands behind your back, tip forward and smile in the reflection of the rear, passenger-side wheel.

I suggested we find a dealer in the building and I asked him to talk about the car with you. Although he opened up the rear engine hatch and told you about its history, you mostly wanted to know about the taillights. 'Are these the original taillights?' 'How old are these taillights?' 'The taillights on a 1961 are different than on a 1968, right?'

The dealer enjoyed your questions and he let you sit in the driver's seat of your favorite car for the first time in forty-five years. I noticed you stroked the leather seat while you watched yourself in the rearview mirror.

"This is the highlight of my week!" you exclaimed. Mine too, Kyle.

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