On August 12, 2020

Traveling in Style

By Dom Cioffi

I have owned trucks for most of my adult life. They have all been run-of-the-mill, fundamentally sound trucks. My wife has driven SUV’s for most of her adult life. They have all been run-of-the-mill, fundamentally sound SUV’s.

None of the vehicles my wife and I have owned would ever be considered luxurious – good quality and practical, for sure, but not luxurious.

I generally buy my vehicles and keep them for many years before moving on to the next one. My goal is to pay as little as possible for a reliable mode of transportation and then drive it for as long as it’s safe and functional.

I don’t think about cars, I don’t pine for cars, I don’t have posters of cars in my man cave. Cars, for me, are an apparatus to get from one place to another.

Outside of a short period as a youngster playing with Matchbox Cars and Hot Wheels, my interest in automobiles could be categorized in one word: indifferent.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate quality vehicles. In fact, I’m the first one to stop to admire a Porsche or Lamborghini if I happen to see one. And as a quasi-artist, I can totally respect the design elements of a high-end automobile.

For me, cars seem to be a great opportunity to waste a lot of money. Would I like to drive a Mercedes Benz? Sure! Would I like to cover the costs of a Mercedes-Benz? Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong. I see the allure. I’ve sat in some beautiful sports cars and considered what it might be like to drive one every day. And there’s always the argument that if you have a long commute or drive often, don’t you owe it to yourself to spend that time in a first-class environment?

But common sense always wins out as I start to consider if that quality ride is worth $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000+ more than my functional ride.

So, isn’t it odd that the one child I have happens to be freakishly into cars? I mean, I’ve never once influenced him about owning or coveting expensive automobiles. And I’ve never suggested that the path to happiness is lined with high-end sports cars. And yet, it’s all he thinks about.

This weird fascination is all him and neither my wife nor I have any idea where it came from.

I guess it started when he was very young. That’s when I followed my father’s lead and began to buy him the aforementioned Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. Whether it was Christmas, Easter, Halloween, or his birthday, he always got a new car as a little gift. He would line them up and run them down the ubiquitous orange track just like I used to. By the time he was 10 years old, I’m confident he had close to 100 different cars in his collection.

But when the allure of these toys faded, he began to transfer his interest to the real world. That’s when he started pointing out specific models as we’d be driving. To this day, I can’t drive to the store with my son when he isn’t commenting on some amazing car that’s near us in traffic.

And now that we’ve reached the age where he’s ready to drive, all he can think about is owning his first car.

A few weeks ago, he took and online course and passed his permit test. And last week, he completed all of his driving requirements with a licensed instructor. All he has left to do is to visit DMV to get his learner’s permit and he’ll finally be allowed on the roads.

And then the fun begins – at least in his mind. In my mind, the worrying now jumps to a whole other level.

I’ve tried to tell myself that this is a positive thing, that he can help drive on long trips and visits to the store. But I know myself, and I don’t think I’ll ever reach a point where I can totally relax with my son behind the wheel.

It’s not that he’s a bad driver. On the contrary, he’s actually quite adept. It’s simply a case where I’ve seen the million things that can go wrong on the road if you drop your attention for a millisecond – and he’s one to drop his attention now and then.

This week’s feature, “An American Pickle,” features a one-in-a-million mistake that sends someone from the past roaring into the future in a highly unlikely buddy movie.

Funny guy Seth Rogen stars as both main characters in this silly romp about a pickle worker from the early 1900’s who is accidentally preserved and reawakened 100 years later.

I give Rogen credit for some surprisingly good acting in this film. Playing the two leads opposite each other is no easy task. However, the story itself, while amusing at times, tended to drag to a bit, which affected the overall feel.

A ripened “C+” for “An American Pickle.”

If you want to watch this film, you’ll have to subscribe to HBO Max, one of the newest online streaming services. There’s a 7-day free trial for those who want to give it a test run.

Have a question for Dom? You can email him  at moviediary@att.net.

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