The other day I was on 13th Street waiting at a green light for traffic to pass so I could make a left-hand turn onto Second Avenue, and I saw something that reminded me of my father.
I’m telling this story, of course, because it’s Father’s Day weekend and only appropriate that I write something about fathers.
As a father, I love Father’s Day as much or maybe even more than my birthday. That might have something to do with the fact that I share a birthday with my youngest son.
But I think it’s mostly because the gifts I get for Father’s Day are more surprising and maybe even more satisfying than the ones I get for my birthday.
Every year before my birthday, Bess asks me what I want, and I say I don’t know, which usually means I’m going to get gift cards, which I like getting but aren’t terribly surprising or exciting.
If your own family gives you gift cards for your birthday then maybe that means you’re hard to please and kind of a jerk. I don’t know. I’m pointing a finger at myself.
If I’m honest about it, though, Bess and the kids do surprise me on my birthday every now and then. This year it was Braves tickets and the logistical miracle of every one of our children actually making it to SunTrust Park. Two years ago, I got a pair of Seinfeld tickets – for me and a person of my choice, which of course turned out to be Bess.
So maybe I get surprised on my birthday every other year. But I’m surprised every single year on Father’s Day. Past gifts have included fishing tackle, ribeyes, power tools and whisky.
But I digress.
So anyway, I was sitting at the intersection of 13th and Second when I saw something that reminded me of my father.
It was a 1977 Ford Thunderbird.
That car has to be the longest two-door sedan in the history of mankind. I mean, you could take the hood off that car and cover up most of today’s luxury sedans with it.
I’d never want to own a 1977 Thunderbird, and I probably wouldn’t want to even drive one. They look like they’d handle like an aircraft carrier.
But when I was a kid, I loved to draw. My father even took me to a cartoonist workshop one time. Drawing a 1977 Ford Thunderbird was like drawing a cartoon: you couldn’t make it too long or too flashy or too ridiculous looking.
When I was a kid, I also loved cars. Sometimes on Saturday morning, my father would take me to dealerships and we’d collect those big colorful brochures featuring a flashy car parked in the middle of a scenic landscape – maybe a boardwalk or a mountain overlook or even a cornfield.
The right landscape could make even a Ford Grenada look sleek.
Sometimes a salesman would give me something really cool like a Corvette poster that featured every model back to 1953, when somebody named Myron Scott named it after a type of small, agile warship.
Those were special times for me, and that’s why the other day, when I saw the gigantic, not-so-agile warship that is the ’77 Thunderbird, I thought immediately of my father.
He wasn’t particularly enamored with cars, except for the fact that they take you where you need to go, but on Saturday mornings he loved them because I loved them.
And he sure as heck wasn’t going to watch cartoons on TV with me.
So we went out and looked at cartoon cars.
Thanks, Dad, and thanks for everything.
And Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers.