Archive for February 17th, 2010

My dad is my hero.  I just want to get that out up front at the beginning of this.  He’s the guy I look to when things need fixing, and he is a wealth of talent and wisdom.  And I know that I am lucky to still have him around and that he’s still able to do things. 

But my dad is an old guy.  Old Guy. 

The older he gets, the Older he gets.  I suppose it’s a natural progression of things, to become more crabby as you age, to think that the world is going to hell in a handcart.  And though I’m growing older, too, it seems there is a widening gap in our generations. 

Last night I had dinner with my parents and afterward we sat in front of the fire and talked.  Conversation turned, as it sometimes does,  to cars that my parents have owned in their 48 years of marriage — the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Now, I don’t understand my parents when it comes to the subject of cars, because my father more or less dictates to my mother the car she will drive.  The first, last, and only time I let my husband have any influence over a car that I drove, I ended up on the side of the road, at night, in the winter, with a blown engine on a 1985 Mercedes.  We’d been married four months.  My father thought I had lost my mind, and after spending an unholy amount of money to have my car towed to the garage in the middle of the night, I thought I had lost my mind, too. 

Prior to that, and following that, I have always selected my own vehicle. 

But my parents are of a different generation, one that has more clearly defined gender roles.  And one of those roles is defined as “the man decides what car the woman will drive, and then pays for it.”  I like that last part, but not enough to let someone else dictate what car I should be driving.  Fortunately after the Mercedes incident, my father believes that I have better judgement than my husband when it comes to car purchases and lets that subject alone. 

But to my mother, he cuts no such slack.  The last two cars they’ve owned have been real stinkers, and my mother has not been happy with them.  Eventually she wore my father down on this last car to the point that he went and bought her a new one.  And we were discussing this fact last night when he told me that what he didn’t like about the last two cars were that they were both designed by women. 

And I quote:  “They need to get these women out of the engineering office and keep them from designing cars.” 

My father:  Old Guy. 

Of course this is the same man who raised me to believe that I could do and be anything I wanted to be.  He’s just… farther down the road than he used to be. 

I get pretty bent out of shape when I hear statements like that, because I know good and well that gender has nothing to do with a great many things that people are capable of doing, just like race has nothing to do with it.  Some people are better than others at certain things, and that’s got less to do with gender or race than it does with natural talent and aptitude.  To suggest that women have no place designing cars… well.  No.  Just… no. 

But there again, this is my dad.  And my dad is an Old Guy.  And sometimes, with my parents, it’s simpler to just smile wanly and say “okay” and get on with my life. 

My dad, who raised me to believe that I could do and be anything I wanted, is a master at letting things roll off his back.  I’ve learned this from him, and it’s helped me to live my life in a calmer fashion.  I can smile and shrug things off, because I realize that people’s minds belong to themselves, and they have their rights to their thoughts and opinions.  And I can disagree without being disagreeable. 

I bit my tongue so hard my mouth started to fill up with blood. 

— Mox


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