Reality Bites by James A. Norton

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Your daughter kicked my dog…and other various fabrications.


This series of weekly columns devoted to how practically everything in our lives evolves over time is the focal point of my writing lately, and I am okay with that. Memories of my own life come back into focus after so many years and I am able to appreciate from a personal perspective not only how my life has changed, but how good I have it as compared to how it was.

I’ve talked about gravity changing in direct proportion to age. I’ve talked about how music and how the entire industry has changed over the years since I was a child first listening to music. I even wrote a snarky column about how TV has influenced social development and the direct correlation to emotional maturation in the public consciousness. Of course I didn’t actually say it like that – that’s a little nerdy.

This week I’m taking it in yet another direction and yet somehow even more personal than previous weeks. I’m going to talk about cars and how they’re affected my life.

It all started in the mid-70’s – I was exposed to an wide variety of vehicles and my love affair with cars began with a combined sensory overload of both American Muscle and British Sport Cars. Within a 20 house radius of where I grew up on School Street in Somerville, there were seven very special cars that I would never forget: an Aston Martin DB6, Mercury Capri (German, not US spec), Austin-Healey 3000 MKIII, Plymouth GTX, Dodge Challenger R/T, Plymouth Road Runner/Superbird and AMC Javelin SST.

On top of that, the gentleman who owned the Aston Martin introduced me to Autoweek magazine – he bought me my first subscription, which I still maintain to this day, 38 years later. Moving forward through the years, I have owned well over 100 cars of all makes and models. Strangely enough, I don’t like to work on them, I never did – but driving them, that’s a whole other story. That’s where my passion lies.

It occurred to me recently, after having lunch with an old friend I hadn’t seen in over a decade, that others around me back then were influenced by my passion for cars. My friend asked me if I was in an American Muscle or Foreign car phase and what I had sitting in my driveway. I had to laugh, because he knew me well, and he had also developed a passion for cars as a result of hanging around me when we were in our late teens and early 20s.

I told him that I was “between” phases, to which he laughed heartily and I told him that I drove a Mazda mid-sized SUV, but of course had a Jaguar in the driveway as well. He went on to describe what he had in his driveway and we spent the next hour reminiscing about the cars we owned when we were younger and how our kids were so much different than us when it came to the subject.

It was nice to be able to talk about something other than business or family – something so completely outside the realm of our personal lives, yet, so completely at the center of our personalities. I guess looking back it’s all about how we change as we get older, not just a shifting in our priorities, but rather, taking time to have perspective on those things that have molded us into the adults that we are today.

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