The Stories Keep Telling Themselves


I noticed that The Old Man and the Gun has finally arrived in Seattle. I was starting to wonder. As with Sam Elliott a couple of years ago, the last time I snuck out by myself to see a movie (The Hero, which was disappointing, although Sam wasn’t), I feel sort of a personal debt to Robert Redford. And if this is his last role, as it may be, I’ll be in the theater.

Redford is really my movie star. I tell people it’s Gene Hackman, because I love to watch Gene Hackman (I love to listen to Gene Hackman), but I’ve got to be fair here. I’m not talking about the best actors or the finest performances, although he’s more interesting of an actor than I used to give him credit for. I’m just talking about the guy you follow, the one you remember from the beginning. Could be anybody, for anyone.

He’s just my guy, I think. I’ve been watching for 50 years. So, maybe this afternoon I’ll catch it. I doubt it’ll hang around theaters long.

What’s interesting is that I’ve got three subjects to entertain my readers with next week. There are my reflections on the 82-year-old Hollywood icon who’s still going. There’s plenty to write about Come From Away, the musical I saw Friday night, based on the true story of the people stranded in the small town of Gander in Newfoundland on 9/11 (and featuring the story of, as one of the main characters, a cousin of a college friend of mine, fun).

And then there are my adventures with cars. An embarrassment of riches for the general-interest columnist.

It started on Thursday morning, as my wife left for work. She came back a couple of minutes later, telling me the car wouldn’t start. I immediately leapt up and rushed outside to see if there was a giant on/off button set on “off” (old Jerry Seinfeld joke). A dead battery I could have handled, but this battery was fine. This was an engine issue.

She was in a hurry to get into town, as a student was singing for her jury (sort of a midterm for singers), and fortunately my neighbors were just leaving for a trip out of town. She grabbed them before they left and borrowed their other car, not having enough time to rent one or find another option, and so solved the first problem.

The second was mine, of course, and I managed. And it was only hard because I’m in that kind of a place right now, getting some weird psychological comfort and denial out of procrastination. No time for that, not then.

And it sucks to be so dependent on a car, when personally I could manage I think without owning one. There are options for people who work at home, including ambulation and Lyft. Not so much when you’re a college professor with classes waiting. Buses work but they run on a schedule and my wife, quite often, does not.

Anyway, that’ll probably be my story, since it’s a fairly happy one (oh, I hate the idea of having to take on a car loan, even a relatively small one, but again, irrelevant). I’ve used this one dealership for years now (there are about 80 car dealerships from here north into Everett), and never had a bad experience. That happens often, but to me a car is a much bigger thing. It helps when you don’t feel like you’re getting screwed because you have no options.

This is it, sitting outside the dealership, waiting for the paperwork.

This is it, sitting outside the dealership, waiting for the paperwork.

We also didn’t get to shop, which would have made me feel better. I assumed our next (and with luck, last) vehicle would be electric or at least a hybrid, but that wasn’t in the cards yesterday. I went with a used car, looked for a price and model and mileage I could accept, and we bought the one we liked, a 2015 Mazda CX-5. It sits up higher in traffic, it’s got all those fun things I appreciate in rental cars (the rear camera for backing up, keyless entry and starting, no need to jury-rig Bluetooth, etc.). Could have been worse.

And I’m on to something here, with The Hard Thing. I’m not going to wrack my brain, but I’m pretty sure I can fill my plate any day of the week with stuff I’ve been putting off. Maybe I’ve got one of them philosophies now. Maybe you have to pay a little for those.

Chuck SigarsComment