There are I am discovering but two critical elements to social survival – something to talk about; and someone to talk to about it. The coffee shop and pub owners clearly landed upon this seemingly uncomplicated recipe many years ago. During this pandemic however the simplicity of the prescription is by no means easily perfected. Either – after having stewed in isolation for days on end – there is zip to report other than tarsome complaint; or – what is sadly more likely in this estranged environment – there is no one with whom to share the intelligence whatever it may be. The choice of topic is as challenging as the choice of correspondent. Some people have of necessity adjusted themselves to a state-of-art manner of communication through the internet, normally an inventive way of conducting business. For those of us less inspired by the force of circumstance the occasion for socializing is far more restricted.
Naturally I too have been uncommonly sequestered and subject to the fallout of isolation of both myself and others. Years of unsuppressed anxiety nonetheless continue to motive me if indeed one can dignify anxiety with motivation. My particular translation of the otherwise ruinous psychological state of mind is the catharsis of a drive in my car. Parenthetically I say car but in fact I have been led to understand by both the manufacturer and insurer of my new vehicle that it is more accurately denominated a truck or, approaching an even more specific vulgarity, a van. Already I am hardened to the characterization because the truth is Ford and GM are no longer making sedans other than their vaunted muscle cars like Mustang, Camaro and Corvette. What drives my retail accommodation paramountly is the acknowledgement that only the more popular SUVs (the modern colloquial term for truck or van for private as opposed to commercial use) will benefit from advanced technology to which I am hopelessly addicted.
My erstwhile physician interestingly reports that the people most threatened by the pandemic are those suffering diabetes, hypertension and obesity – specifically people over 70 years of age. I now realize I forgot to thank my erstwhile physician for this disquieting insight. As a mark of my imperturbability I shamelessly rise above the association with the medical limitations other than the incontrovertible one of age. Though I have never been one to succumb to the point of intransigence to obstruction, my reasoning I am afraid is anything but reasonable. That is, I prefer merely to snap my fingers and move along! When faced with hardship, reparation is only applicable if possible; if not, then it is trumped by the patently natural disposition called “run“. If as in this instance the deliberation is commuted by its unparalleled equivocation, then I employ the innocent indulgence of a car drive to expiate my pain.
At the risk of being perceived to camouflage the often lurid reality of materialism, I confess that I attach considerable artistic and mechanical ingenuity to the lowly motor vehicle. I needn’t remind you of the historical superlatives which have blended with the automobile industry.
Elvis Presley’s pink Cadillac; the Lincoln Continental in which JFK was assassinated; the Edsel; the antique Packard limousine; and of course the Rolls Royce. My first car was a Mustang 4-cylinder. While I never regretted its eventual departure I have no doubt that while in my possession I treated it with the same delicacy and artistic reserve as my new truck.
Herein lies an inescapable complication with cars – that is, they’re just things. A former friend (now sadly no longer whinnying among us) worked for a car dealership. His sage advice was this, “The first thing you do with a new car is beat it with a baseball bat then drive it through a barbed wire fence and get it over with“. Harsh words to be sure. And while the adage may glisten with poetic histrionics I have never been fully inspired to follow the counselling. Indeed I rather react more competitively than I probably should.
It embarrasses me to admit that to my way of thinking cars and living rooms have much in common. The initial ingredient of both is the purchase itself which is normally acquainted with hopeful anticipation. Then comes the arrival of the thing and the production of its performance. Subsequently the vernacular is usage which in turn exposes the inevitable idiosyncrasies some of which are unacceptable. From here onward the decline is precipitous! Were one for example to engage in what is considered requisite repair or modification the collateral fallout is inarguable contamination. To employ an extreme example, who would accept an antique with modern improvement? How could one tolerate a reputedly ancient artifact with an additive by the neighbourhood jeweller?
The point is this: Once the harm is done, the love affair is over! No matter! It is at this or similar junctures that one lapses into that most skilful of all distancing; namely, carry on! It is the capacity of the individual to arrest the picayune detail of life and instead to capture and bestow the spectacle of its enlightened truth – which is to say, Live with it! Hopefully one will outlive the corruption of one’s material world. The mere prospect of survival is what underpins the endowment of acceptability. By definition anything tolerable is sustainable.