The day I bought my first car, I called my father. We rarely
spoke, just at Christmas and sometimes Thanksgiving, and even that
seemed excessive: we had nothing
to say to each other. Yet I found myself
dialing his number on a Saturday afternoon in April
to tell him about this car. One of the few things I remembered
that was good when I was small
was sitting beside him in the front seat of his dark green Bel Air,
the two of us singing “You’re a Grand Old Flag” at the top
of our lungs while he drove. My new Honda
was dark green.
         “I hope it has a gas cap that locks,” my father said.
         I asked him why.
         “If you don’t have a gas cap that locks, your enemies
will get you,” he said. “They’ll siphon all the gas out of your car
with a long straw, and then you’ll run out of gas on a deserted
stretch of road in the middle of the night with no one
to help you.” He coughed. “Or they’ll unscrew the gas cap
and pour in a bottle of Coca-Cola, and then
you’ll have to spend thousands of dollars
getting the engine rebuilt.”
         “I don’t have any enemies,” I said.
         “I just don’t want you to get hurt,” said
my father.