Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Variations on a Theme #atozchallenge

Rodger Dodger...adventure ahoy!
All this writing about my father and cars made me think they should have been my theme for the blog challenge, thus the title.   Let's continue our discussion.  

My father used to collect Hot Wheels cars for me when I was a small boy.  I have most of the cars he bought me in these car-themed blue vinyl cases that never stood the test of time.  The cars and the cases are pretty beat up but worth more to me than any mint unopened collectible.  

The car you see here has special meaning.  This is the Rodger Dodger based on a 1973 Dodge Charger SE.  Mine was from the 1974 original run in Plum Crazy Purple which was an actual Dodge paint offering at the time.  

He'd set up the little orange race tracks throughout the house and as my mother yelled at us for taking up all the room he'd tell me about this car.  It may be why I love purple so much.  Of all the cars I have, this is the one I remember us playing with together.  I remember his face and his excited voice as he told me about engines and how loud and fast it was.  This became the car I wanted to own when I grew up.  

I took Rodger Dodger with me everywhere I went.  It was a show and tell subject in grade school.  It hid in my locker in high school.  It was with me all throughout college.  While most of my toys and models were packed away somewhere, this car was always out.  It hid in silence on shelves, at my desk or in my pocket at work.  When I felt frustrated I'd sometimes take the car out of hiding and imagine he and I in it racing down some dusty road causing the usual trouble.  When I wanted to feel close to him in his absence I'd keep the car close to me.  I could hear his voice over the sound of the throaty engine, almost smell the gas and the oil and the interior leather.  

Rodger Dodger became a symbol of him and our time together.  Then it came to represent the life I wanted; tooling back country roads in this sooped up Charger and stopping at little diners along the way to nowhere in particular.  It was the car I wanted to drive across the country and back.  It was the car I wanted to pull up to the house in after a long day and the car I wanted to whittle away the weekend working on.  It was the car to make memories in. 

None of those things happened but maybe they still will.  These cars are still out there.  I can get a restorable subject for under ten grand.  I'll have to do it without him, though.  Maybe if my writing career goes somewhere I'll have one sooner than later.  It won't have that Hot Wheels  engine but I will paint it purple.  He'll be over my shoulder somehow letting me know I was about to screw something up or want me to cut off something necessary just because it bothered him.  I get visits like that sometimes.  

Rodger Dodger may look like just a toy but it keeps me connected to the man I knew and wanted to be like (well, not exactly like) and it keeps me connected to the idea of a life out there I have not yet claimed.  Call it a talisman or a symbol of hope. Call it a specter of my past or a guide to my future.  Just don't call it a silly old toy because one day I may just pull up in your driveway with a 73 Charger and ask you to take a ride with me to who knows where.  You bring the coffee, I'll supply the adventure...

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  1. Catalytic converter? Who needs one of those??

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  3. If you pulled up in my driveway with a purple Charger, I'd go for a ride with ya! We'll go for some pie :)

    1. Katie, I'm ready. Any time, any place. Just hang on long enough for me to get the Charger...

  4. That is a great car! It's funny how something that looks like just a toy can hold so many memories and become something truly cherished

    1. Debbie, you're so right. Sometimes its the little things that mean the most.