Monday, June 4, 2012

The Buzz About Groups And Individuals

The other day I was looking at Google Images and I came across this great old ad for the 1979 Dodge Magnum GT, with none other than golfing great Lee Trevino posing in it. The caption reads, "Remember the kid who used to burn up 11th Street?" or something like that. There he is, in laid back "I've got it together" 70s style. Ol' Lee looks so content it drives me nuts. The house and the yard in the ad are impeccable and modern for the 70s. And am I jealous.

I wanted to be the guy sitting in the bucket seat of that almost-a-musclecar, smiling confidently to whoever was close enough to see me. "Look, Rob's sitting in his Magnum GT, smiling confidently again. Think we should remind him to water his lawn?" I mean, Trevino is even wearing that great 70s icon we all remember fondly as the denim jacket. That's how laid back the ad is. Nowadays, we've all grown up. We're serious. The cars we drive are no-nonsense, Corporate 401K Silver-colored cars complete with fabric seats and that irritating voice that reminds us that we're too lazy to pull over and read a map. Humorless, blunt-affect jellybean-shaped contraptions which ease our concerns that we might not blend in entirely with the 400,412 other shoppers at Sam's Club.

Far be it for me to judge anyone. I believe that whatever someone wants to drive is a personal decision, but from my observations it appears that anyone trying to break out of conformity -no matter how insignificantly- is risking ridicule and scorn from those who find complete comfort in silver jellybeans with fabric seats and GPS. Are we living our lives according to some script? "You're driving a Retina-Burning Yellow 2006 Ford Mustang, Rob. We don't do things that way around here."

The greater point isn't about what we drive. It isn't even about how we express ourselves. It's about grabbing, and clutching with all we've got within our souls, our God-Given right to individuality. What ever happened to being ourselves? Didn't those great old cars reflect individualism? That's what "custom" means, in automotive terms. Not that I'm pushing for a reemergence of those 70s disasters we all remember, with PTSD, as "custom vans". Hey, I love unique vehicles. My friends know that about me, especially those who remember the '71 Dodge Charger I once had. But the van movement destroyed its own "willing suspension of disbelief" about the time that people began installing waterbeds and ceiling fans (!) in their rolling ecclectic self-expressions.

To me, individual expression, when issued honestly, is one of the most beautiful gifts we've been given. It reminds us of our Creator's limitless Nature. Somehow, silver jellybean-mobiles seem the exact opposite: Conform. Comply. Keep your head down. Submit to the world's way of doing things. Share the same cookie-cutter mold as your acquaintances. Maybe that's why, as I get older and increasingly must trim my eyebrows so I don't look like the crusty old man I fear I might become one day, I've become more conservative over the years. I can't think of anything scarier, in worldly terms, than getting the standard issue above-the-ears business haircut and donning khaki slacks purchased at Corporate Clothing Store Inc., and parking my silver jellybean amongst the other silver jellybeans so that we can meet over drinks and compare our above-the-ears haircuts we all got over the weekend. I believe a change is in order.

Maybe if I compromise, I can meet myself halfway.

Maybe I can install hair clippers in an old, silver van.

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