I AM NOT SURE THIS HAPPENS to every geezer, but it seems to me that, as a bloke gets older, the size of his vehicle shrinks along with other parts of his body.
You see guys like this everywhere – most noticeably at the supermarket. A once proud and confident man, who used to drive to the shops in his Holden, Falcon or Valiant, pulls up in something with a ridiculous name like ‘Vitz’ or ‘Demio’ or ‘Yaris’, and a throbbing 1.3 litre engine. The poor codger then makes sure Mum has the recycling bags, and into Countdown they stagger.
Countdown seems like an appropriate place for Vitzes and Yarises driven by the elderly and infirm, because there ain’t no New World thing going on.
I know it’s most likely to do with financial necessity … but if you’re mostly just tooling around Browns Bay or Riccarton, and taking the occasional trip to see Muriel at the rest home, what’s wrong with a decent sized car? It’s hardly like you’re draining the contents of the Marsden Point Oil Refinery. And let’s face it, there are enough Eastern Suburbs hausfraus driving the trendy and stupidly-priced hybrids to balance out the nation’s fuel consumption.
As I’m about to enter the Geezerhood, I sought the always-sage advice of my geezer mentor, Mr R.F. Greenwood of Bellarine, Victoria, on car choices.
His counsel was refreshing: “Do not under any circumstances buy a small car ‘to see us out.’ Drive something big and interesting, and at least five years old. Change it regularly, and keep it polished and in prime nick. Make it red if possible. Leather seats are good. Leather doesn’t stain, and is naturally impervious to urine.”
Nodding furiously to myself as I read, I suddenly felt a fine mist coat my eyes – not unlike a dream sequence in a Bonnie Tyler music video. My mind drifted to the movie 3000 Miles to Graceland which featured a 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville soft-top, complete with those rear fins and tail-lights which resemble small red rocketships. The car is a joy to behold, and a fine version these days costs no more than a Holden SS.
And were a geezer to acquire such a vehicle, what is the appropriate day-wear for the coot as he rocks up to the supermarket? I worry a lot about this, and told my daughter if she ever sees me out-and-about in a lemon coloured polo shirt, beige walk-shorts and socks with sandals, she is to have a contract taken out on me immediately.
The ever-practical mentor R.F. has it sussed in the second half of his 60’s.
“For men, you do not need many things – a couple of pairs of shorts and two pairs of Levis slim-fit, (and have them fitted and shortened in the store). Four or five shirts in plain colours. No images, patterns or slogans. Where possible, avoid jumpers and sweat shirts – they collect food over time and are revolting. (You are collecting food, whether you realise it or not. It’s absolutely disgusting. You must tuck in a tea-towel at meal times and avoid eating in public.) For women, buy cheap-and-cheerful, follow the fashions, and avoid tracksuits and elastic waist bands. Remember you have a huge rear-end.”
In my own ‘countdown’, it is now just shy of three-and-a-half years till I start collecting the pension. I wonder how much of a Caddy’s fuel tank I’ll be able to afford to fill?
ROB HARLEY IS ONE OF NEW ZEALAND’S TOP DOCUMENTARY MAKERS, AN AUTHOR, AND A HIGHLY INSPIRATIONAL SPEAKER. HE’S A WORLD RENOWNED STORY-TELLER, A SOMETIMES HARLEY-DAVIDSON RIDER AND A GREAT KIWI BLOKE.