Friday, January 13, 2012

Chevy runs deep

Full Disclosure: This is recycled from one of my recent columns at Brentwood Home Page. Wanted to share it here:

I am a total sucker for the TV commercials that tug at my heartstrings.

During the holidays Wife and I are especially partial to the Publix ad showing the medical resident working Christmas Eve, talking to his mom on his cell phone.

In a subsequent scene he calls her back and tells her to wish all the family a Happy Holiday, then trudges into his apartment alone, only to find her and the rest of the family all there, baking and decorating.

And don’t even get me started on the Hallmark ads, or any of the ones where soldiers or long lost family members are showing up to surprise their families. They get me every time.

You would think a car commercial would not affect me. Think again.

The latest campaign for Chevrolet incorporates the slogan “Chevy Runs Deep,” pronounced by none other than Tim Allen, a/k/a “Tim-the-Tool-Man Taylor,” the prototypical Guy’s Guy from the 90s TV show Home Improvement. The Tool Man’s love affair with machinery, especially cars, was the pervasive theme of the family sitcom.

The latest commercial that puts me in a puddle every time I see it shows a grandfather playing with his little granddaughter in a park.  He looks over his shoulder and sees his grown son pulling up in a 1965 Impala, the very one he owned years ago. His wife and another son are also there and they present him with the keys, telling him it took five years for them to find the car with which he had reluctantly parted years earlier.

Grandpa drives the car away and is heard talking about how it’s not just the car, it’s the memories. And in this particular spot, the Tool Man is heard to say, “From fathers to sons, Chevy runs deep.”

I’m not a car guy. I don’t have that in common with The Tool Man or Grandpa. I see an automobile as a utilitarian means to an end and I have never gotten excited about what make or model I drive. Get me from Point A to Point B and that’s all I care about.

So why, pray tell, does “Chevy Runs Deep” touch something inside of me?

I’ll tell you why.

From an early age, long before he could drive, Older Son wanted a pickup truck.  I never understood the yearning, but his desire only became stronger as he got older.  He dutifully drove hand-me-down family sedans until the summer after his freshman year in college, when he and I drove to Lexington, Tenn. and purchased a bright green 2000 Chevy Silverado with four-wheel-drive.

He had found it online after a thorough search. It had about 68,000 miles on it and was in good condition. We each took it for a test drive and we negotiated a pretty good deal.

Once he could get his feet back on the ground from the excitement of it all, he proudly drove it back toward Nashville. It was soon christened as the “Green Monster.”

It served him well through college, including a period of time that he lived in a God-forsaken dwelling high atop a hill in some woods just outside Auburn, Alabama -- property affectionately known by him and his roommates as “The Farm.”  The Green Monster was, of course, well equipped to traverse the rugged terrain leading up to their lovely “home” (and I use that term loosely).

I must admit having that truck in the family has come in handy over the past seven years. Moving college students in and out of their latest accommodations (like The Farm), hauling debris, taking a riding lawn mower to the repair shop – the uses are endless, really.

And Older Son learned that other folks quickly make friends with pickup truck owners. He has been extremely gracious to let others use it when asked.

With mileage now over 150,000, he has had to put some money into it to keep it in running condition and has done so responsibly and carefully. He asked a shop owner he trusts to let him know when he thought it would be time to perhaps think about parting with it rather than spending more. Happily, he has not received that directive.

Last year, about a month before his wedding, his wife-to-be asked to borrow the Green Monster for a few hours. I can’t remember the tale she concocted to justify her need for it but she somehow convinced him to turn over the key for an afternoon.

He learned the reason a month later when he saw the beautiful photo of his bride in her wedding dress, sitting in the driver’s seat of his prized vehicle.

His mother and I drove it to Dallas for the newlyweds in early October when they made their move there.  It ran like a top and was extremely useful for items that didn’t make it into the rented moving van.

Older Son’s new job will require a bit of driving around the sprawling Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. He and his wife have been painfully contemplating trading in the truck for something more fuel efficient. It’s in good shape and running well, and he’s confident there is a buyer there in Texas who would pay a good price.

I’m still not a car guy, but I have tears in my eyes even as I type this. Like Grandpa in the commercial says, it’s not just the car (or truck), it’s the memories. That truck is full of them.

I was relieved to receive a text message from Older Son a couple of weeks ago that simply stated, “Keeping the truck for a while.”  He had to have anticipated the grin on my face as I read that.

I’ve seen him get married, have surgery and move to Texas in the past year. I know it’s not about me, but I appreciate not having to deal with another emotional passage just now and I’m thankful the Green Monster is staying with us – or him – for at least a while longer.

Oh yes, friends.  From fathers to sons (or sons to fathers), Chevy runs deep.


Andrew said...

Great story!

Kelly said...

Thank you for sharing this with us here (sinceI don't get to your column as often as I should) - I loved it!

Your comment about getting from point A to point B sounds just like my husband. He's not much of a car guy, either, and has uttered those exact words on more than one occasion. We've always owned a truck for utilitarian purposes, though.

Debby said...


quid said...

This was a wonderful story to share. I'm having my own "car moment" this weekend, and reading this tells me I'm not just crazy to tie what happens with cars (and trucks) in the family, can cause a poignant moment or two or three!

Pencil Writer said...

Made me smile. (And I'm not mentioning the watery stuff welling up in my eyes.) I like the vehicles I've had. I especially loved my 1993 Nissan Quest van. I think we put over 250,000 miles on it. I grieved when I had to trade it in because the repairs would be more expensive than the mechanic thought might be worth it. I'm still sad and miss it even though I've thoroughly enjoyed my (our) red 2003 Altima with 5 on the floor with about 150,000 miles on it now . . . :-)