Old cars share a sadness. They speak in faded shades of worn patina. Old hopes reflect back to me in their marred paint. Long after fat ties and worn suites are rounded up into Goodwill bags, certain old cars hang around the neighborhood. I have written of them in past blogs.
I still see most of the same old that I wrote about back in December '08. Nothing much has changed with them. They are as predictable as my morning routine. On a rare day I'll veer off routine's course and find a new street with a brand new, old car. Rarely is the car not photogenic. Its history radiates out and is easily captured with camera.
A bit like encountering Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, an old-car encounter is emotionally dark. There is nothing like a has-been to kindle feelings of one's own missed opportunities. The scratches and dents and dabs of touch-up paint remind me of a black-tie charity event. Everything is past its prime and the stories are in the details—behind the smiles and makeup. I wonder about the body putty on the fender, some primer sprayed on the nose.
Meeting a new old car reminds me of my Uncle Fritzie. Uncle Fritzie drove an old, black sedan with a sunshade over its windshield. He worked in a perfume factory and always smelled like a cosmetic counter after an earthquake. You could always smell his presence long before actually seeing him. His sedan, needless to say, possessed his peculiar odor whether he was in it or not. When his car was at my grandmother's house I always knew that I'd have to kiss him on the cheek and sit in his lap. If I paid enough attention to him, he'd give me a quarter. Old cars are the essence of lost times.