One of my favorite books growing up was Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. Silverstein was brilliant in this book and his shorts. I was fascinated and frightened by his trippy stories about kids getting eaten by boa constrictors or sticking their finger too far up their noses. His messages, however, were lost on me as I still picked my nose like its life, and mine, depended on it. But let’s face it, when my sister would read the story about Little Peggy Ann McKay being too sick to go to school today, I would blow cereal out of my nose and beg for another reading. I couldn’t get enough of the man and his words.
The Giving Tree though is such a great story on several levels, and I think I understood the message he was pushing. On the surface it is an environmental story about how we continue to take from our world and it continues to give. Check. But it also made me think about people like my parents, my family, my wife and various friends who have all been as giving as the tree. The underlying message, in its simplest form: Love. What other child author has pushed that drug like Silverstein?
I am thinking about rewriting this story for those kids that grew up reading this book. The difference would be that in the place of the tree would be a first car. I realized today that My Silver, my Herbie, and my first car, my 1991 Honda Accord, has been my tree. Though my story would lack the depth of Silverstein, I think it would appeal to many. Let me be clear in saying that I am not a car guy. I didn’t name my car, wax it, wash it often, get things fixed on it when it cleary needed fixing. But I did sleep in it, talk to it on long road trips, and rarely lent it. (Come to think of it, I don’t think anyone asked to borrow it.) In a very perverse way I treated the car like myself. When I met my wife, she first cleaned me up and then went after the car, seeing as how we were both messes.
The other day when I posted it on Craigslist.com I kind of choked up. We went a lot of places together. Colorado, Wyoming, through torrential rains in the midwest, a Cubs game, a Yankees game, Tampa, Pascagoula, MS with a sea kayak on top, and many a trail run in Montreat. Once it even got broken into (raped as I see it) in Atlanta. The crooks took my CD’s, a jacket and my buddies shades, but left me some pennies and my copy of the New Testament. The last laugh, though, was on them because I felt like there would be few demands on Atlanta’s Black Market for Widespread Panic CD’s and a Gap Pea Coat.
But today when I sold it to a family who needed a car for their 18 yr old son, (who according to his mother lacked “good motor skills and coordination”) I understood the beauty of that car. It carried me whereever I wanted to go, but now it was off to serve a different purpose for someone else. I didn’t cry when they drove off in it. Instead, I said a little prayer that I will be far away in Korea when that little ride is too sick to get that boy to school.
Still in the country,