Van Man 007

To establish the proper perspective, consider that this is the season of merry jingle happy Hanukkah Kwanzaa and so on, the perfect time for a bit of Holiday Breakfast Blend Tea. From Peet’s, of course. I have considered this often. Only yesterday, in fact, I brewed a splendid cup of Holiday Tea, enjoyed it immeasurably, and was not the least bit daunted by the fact that it dates, this blend, not from the 2012 holiday, but 2011. Yes, a full quarter pound of Peet’s finest has been sitting on my counter for an entire year, largely unnoticed. And damned if it is just splendid one year later. Why rush things? No sense in pushing the river, I always say.

About 45 years ago, my cousin Bob in an effort to introduce me to things British, showed me a package of razor blades. They were then perfectly modern, now of the old-fashioned sort, double edged with a opening in the middle that fit over a post. It was the opening that Bob wanted me to note. Rather than one straight slot, the shape of the cutout in the center wavered and indented and bulged in strange places. Why? Because the British razor blades had to accommodate 40 years of razors, some with a couple of posts, some with one, and so on. Why throw a thing away when it works perfectly well?

Certainly this is true of James Bond. No throwing him away, is there? Consider all those who have tried to do him in. Odd Job, for example. Not only was he himself discarded decades ago, Asian stereotype and bladed bowler hat and all. Since then at least 15 others have landed on the villainous scrapheap. Whereas Bond, 007, bounces from one actor to another, one generation of Broccoli producers to another. And Daniel Craig in the latest incarnation delights utterly. He’s aging, that is the shtick. Everyone in today’s Bond audience bonds with that, don’t they? Shoulder trouble he has. This almost defeats Bond, in between motorcycle races across the rooftops of Istanbul. Naturally, by the film’s close, Daniel Craig has shed at least 15 years, looking a barely weathered 38 or so. Go, James.

So utterly enraptured and infused was I by these two hours of wide-screen escapism, that when I rolled into my van and slid the electric door shut, well, the spirit was very much there. Jefferson Avenue, Redwood City’s thoroughfare had traffic coming and going, but never mind, forgetting my recently acquired driving phobia, I quite naturally eased my behemoth Ford right into the thick of the vehicular crush. It didn’t even occur to me that I might get hit or hit someone else. My Ford is all heavy metal, 10 miles per gallon V-8 engine. Collide with me, and you’ll think twice about it. Go, James, and go Paul. Go home. Have some dinner. And by all means, go to Sunday’s concert.

Why? Because, well, just because. How many years have I done the same thing, touching the magnet of my van key to the switches hidden in the taillight? First the door does what it was doing now, whirring open. The lift goes straight up, turns, drops. I roll on it, hit the up switch and whir and more whirring and…nothing. Please, no. I had a concert to get to, Kitka the great eastern European women’s chorus. No, no, please stop doing this whirring. A couple of construction guys working on my apartment conversion wandered out to have a look. The mechanism kept whirring and whirring. Like the cosmos itself. There would be no end to it or, in the way of astrophysics, the end would be the beginning. Or turned at an angle, the beginning of the end. And viewed orthogonally, the end of the beginning.

They labored for hours, the construction guys who were supposed to be working on the rotten foundation of my newly acquired apartment building. They were determined to help. In the end, they gave up, leaving the van door open, the lift out and sitting on the ground. They sealed the open door with a plastic tarp. Everyone has their last ride, and I was grateful that mine was enlivened by James Bond. My fantasy, my generation, my end.

Of course, I had just been to the San Jose disabled equipment show. Having just talked to a man about a van. Van man pointing me in a certain direction. A consultant scheduled for Friday, all set to evaluate me and my disabled driving. All in the nick of time.

Holding onto the past being a bad policy. Letting go absolutely required. We get by and we move on. Just barely. But we do.

Will I actually drive a new van? Won’t my shoulder ache and my torso get tired? Perhaps I will drive the new van about as little as I drove the old one. But I rather doubt it. Getting in and out of the thing will be much faster. Much easier. And even if I end up driving very little, that’s the chance one takes. If one takes chances. Which at age 66, one can forget to do.

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