November 23, 2007

A Different Shade of Blue

Category: News — Ira @ 7:18 pm


“Blue color is everlastingly appointed by
the Deity to be a source of delight.”
—John Ruskin

It wasn’t the most logical thing I’ve ever done. Certainly not the most necessary. But it was something I have considered for some time. And decided to do, for the first time ever, in my forty-six years.

I bought a new truck. A 2007 Dodge 1500. With a Hemi. Brand new. Fully loaded. With a sun roof. And a sliding rear window that opens with the push of a button. The color: a bold Electric Blue.

My truck has seen more rain than sunshine.
Hopefully not a harbinger of things to come.



As many of you know, I had made an attempt for a Dodge earlier this year at the New Holland Dodge dealer. And how it went with young Adam, the high-pressured salesman from Philly. This time, events began to unfold when I saw a sales extra in the news-paper featuring various dealers with end-of-the-year specials. I glanced at it. Lancaster Dodge, located on Manheim Pike, had some pretty hefty discounts on the new left-over 2007 models. So I called one day.

The salesman’s name was John, and he claimed they still had half a dozen models in stock. An hour later I was there. John met me. An older guy with graying hair, with a pronounced New Yawk accent, he was the exact opposite of Adam. Laid back. A bit gruff. Not very talkative. But friendly and helpful. He reeked of cigarettes and coughed with a smoker’s hack. He showed me the remaining 2007s. All extended cabs. A bright red one. A black one. Two silver ones. Two blue ones. All almost exactly alike, except for minor details.

I tried to act suave and disinterested. I could take it or leave it. I didn’t have to buy. I owned my 2004 Chevy HD 2500, free and clear. It was a good truck. If I can’t get a good deal, I’ll run my truck until it won’t run, I told John. It should last another 100,000 miles. He smiled and looked wise and thoughtful. And remained quiet, as I convinced myself to buy a new one.

I closely checked out two of the new trucks. The red one was out. Too loud. Not me. The black one was too, well, Black Bumperish. Or too Amish. But the silver and blue trucks beckoned. Almost exactly alike, except for one detail. The one blue truck had a remote start system. The remote start button was installed right on the key head. John showed me how it works. Just press the button twice, quickly. The truck lights blink twice, then suddenly the motor fires up with a powerful growl. John emphasized the fact that if anyone would get into the truck somehow, after it was remote-started, it was theft-proof. If you so much as touched the brakes or any other controls without inserting the key, the truck would instantly shut down. I was impressed.

John and I sat down in his office to negotiate. I told him what I would spend. He took notes. Then he disappeared, like they all do, into the mysterious office of the “financial officer” to see what they could do. He returned with figures that didn’t quite match what I offered. I growled and grumbled. John smiled genially and commented in his New Yawk accent. The truck was on sale at more than a twenty-five percent discount already. There wasn’t too much there to adjust, he insisted. We walked out to look at the trucks again. By this time, I focused exclusively on the blue one. I sat in it. Started it up. Again. John pointed out all the little extras, including the sun roof (which I don’t really consider an extra). It also had one other small detail the others didn’t: free Sirius satellite radio for one year.

We returned to his office. I asked how soon they could have the bed liner and the “nerf bar” side steps installed on the truck. But not a tarp cover for the the truck bed. I don’t think tarp covers look manly. Plus, they are actually unhandy. By Monday, he said. I looked out the window at the truck, glistening in the sunlight. I crunched the figures in my head. And made the decision.

“Draw up the paperwork,” I said. John smiled a friendly smile and discreetly coughed his smoker’s hack.

Why did I do it? It’s so unlike me, to go do something like that. Just like that. Several reasons. And the decision wasn’t as impulsive as it sounds. I had been contemplating it seriously for a long time.

I bought the Chevy 2500 in late February-early March, just weeks after we returned from the Florida Nightmare. It was an outstanding truck, and I got it for an outstanding price. I liked it, except for its atrocious gas mileage. But somehow, while driving it, I was always reminded of those awful, frantic horrible days, days of darkness, stress and foreboding. Days before the dreadful truth emerged from the depths. Days when two families, or parts of them, still clung to a shred of hope that did not exist and had long since fled. The truck was tainted in my mind. And by late summer, I had pretty well decided that, one way or another, sooner rather than later, the truck would have to go. Too much negative baggage.

So that’s why I did it. And because I wanted to. And could.

I picked up my truck the following Monday after work. I signed all the documents and politely declined all the extra warranties and undercoating options the financial officer presented to me. Then John took me to the truck, gleaming with chrome step side bars and a new bed liner. He showed me all the digital controls and how to work them. We shook hands and thanked each other. I drove proudly off the lot and into the future. Long live Electric Blue.

Blue jeans, Blue truck

On Thanksgiving Day, we enjoyed a few hours of sunlight between incessant rain showers. I spent part of the day at Steves and enjoyed a fantastic and bountiful feast. Turkey and all the trimmings. Wilma’s brother and family, Rudy Yutzys from Brook-field, MO, were in for the holiday.

A bountiful feast, Thanksgiving at Steves

Rudy and I go way back. I first met him in 1976, when we moved to Bloomfield, Iowa. I was fifteen years old. We shared many adventures as young, restless teenagers. And got into various degrees of trouble together, along with our other buddies. He was one of the “infamous six” young sixteen to eighteen year-olds who left for Nebraska to work as cowboys and ranch hands back in 1979, about which I will write in more detail one day. Those were wild and reckless times. I remember at one point he had the fastest horse in the community, a great giant of a beast, that no one could beat. We did a lot of buggy drag-racing on the way home from the singings on those long-ago Sunday nights.

It was good to see him and his family again, and catch up on old times.

“Your time is short, Turkey.” Rudy and Marietta

Rudy and Ira

I am not an art connoisseur, although I do know and respect a few local artists. Much of the stuff displayed as modern art makes absolutely no sense to me. Or to anyone else either, I suspect. The drivel published as art criticism today often consists of nothing more than incomprehensible gibberish. Which makes it all the more remark-able that when I paged through a book of art at the Barnes and Noble Bargain Counter recently, I was so impressed that I did something I’ve never done before. I shelled out fifteen bucks for it.

The artist, Jack Vettriano, was born in Scotland. He is self-taught. And extremely popular, it turns out. The book title: “Lovers and Other Strangers.” His characters step out in scenes straight from the 1940s and 1950s. All the men wear suits and ties and often hats, even on the beach. They have greasy swept-back hair. The women are dressed for a night out. The men look mildly menacing, the women unapproachable. Everyone smokes or drinks, or both. Gloriously refreshing, that. I’m not sure if I’m breaking copyright laws here, but I’ve posted a few of my favorites. Prints and framed copies are widely available. Google his name for pricing.

“Dance Me to the End of Love”

“Contemplation of Betrayal”

“Seaside Sharks”

The Patriots continue their destructive swath through the NFL, demolishing opponents ruthlessly and efficiently. I will actually be cheering for the Eagles this Sunday. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that. My only hope now is that someone, maybe one of the thug Eagles, will break both of Brady’s legs. As a law school classmate (and a thug Eagle fan) used to holler during football games, “Hit him! I wanna see bone sticking out of that leg!” At this desperate point, I’d gladly settle for one broken leg. Evil, evil runs amok. If the Patriots continue performing at current levels, I will probably not even bother watching the Super Bowl, for the first time in twenty years.

“Darth Vader” Belichick plotting his evil course




  1. The Lord bless you and your truck, Ira. Nice timing, that; a kind of harvest with its cornucopia of extras that make life-on-the-ground feel pleasant.

    The color looks good with your shirt at the top of your blog …

    Comment by LeRoy Whitman — November 23, 2007 @ 7:37 pm

  2. Nice truck. It should last a long time, even with the crazy PA drivers. I want a new truck, but I dont have the cash and I hate debt. I’m sure you’ve been checking out the sirius radio channels. My favorites are the Fox News channel (131), the Nascar channel (128), and they carry live every NFL game. Please eschew the Howard Stern channel.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — November 23, 2007 @ 7:56 pm

  3. Very NICE truck! It is probably the very truck I’d get if we lived in snow dump zone along Great Lakes. My most memorable vechile I had before I met Mark was… electric blue. Loved that color!

    Comment by Jean Hersch — November 23, 2007 @ 9:02 pm

  4. Congrats on the Big Blue. Be sure and make’em pay good for the life-time warranty. That comes with it. [They’re depending on that less than 3 yr. average ownership for new vehicles]. By the way, what is the mpg on it? RUEB. W., a little debt won’t hurt, go spring for it, the dealers are hungry.

    Comment by happy grampa jess — November 23, 2007 @ 10:27 pm

  5. Quite handsome, Uncle!

    Comment by Dorothy — November 23, 2007 @ 10:40 pm

  6. Congrats on the new truck purchase, enjoy it, you deserve it. One small concern I have is the choice of brands you chose when there are so many nice Fords to choose from!! I do however agree with your choice of colors.

    I share your disgust for the Patriots but I’m not sure we should break Brady’s legs. I took my two boys along with some friends to watch the USF Bulls “Tampa” play Louisville last Sat. The game was a blowout, with the Bulls winning 55 to 17. To you NFL fans, please note that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in first place again in the NFC South.

    Comment by Phil&Dorinda — November 24, 2007 @ 3:00 pm

  7. Nice color, nice options, wrong brand (but at least its not a Chevy). Take Ford F-350 diesel; install a 120 mm cannon in turret on top and viola, a M1A1 Abrams main battle tank.

    However, I do need to respect a Hemi. When I graduated from high school in 1975, the muscle car era was over, gut shot by massive insurance rate increases in 1970 and 1971 then guillotined by the 1972 unleaded gas mandate (Chevy 350 4-barrel only outputting 175 HP but was cranking 325 HP in 1971). The 1968, 69, 70 rides were then four to six years old and affordable for a working high school student. We saw a good number of 1969 and 1970 hemi big blocks that could MOVE. Dodge Coronets, Chargers, Road Runners, Plymouth Scamps with worked over 340s, Ford Mustangs and Chevy Novas, Chevelles and Camaros were choice cars. One of my friends had a 1968 Chevelle with a 396 (big block). His family owned a major garage so they all worked on cars. David installed line lockers on the front brakes and the last week of school entertained the high school principal and a whole lot of the senior class by idling up to the main entrance, locking the fronts, allowing a mysterious hooded figure to jump out and pour Clorox under both back wheels then lit it off. Not a hemi show but there were no live mosquitoes any where near old McDowell after that fog storm. Also helped that the staff could not see the license number. The era was so horsepower heavy that I once drove the family car to a fire call and when I looked at the speedometer, I was passing 120 MPH. I did not tell my father how fast his Cutlass could go until several cars later.

    I see Rudy was east. Sometime soon, we need to go visit. They have not seen either girl.

    Comment by Mark Hersch — November 24, 2007 @ 8:44 pm

  8. I do agree with your distaste of the Patriots…however, what about that display from the Steelers Monday night?

    Comment by Janice — November 27, 2007 @ 10:11 pm

  9. I’ve only owned two brand spanking new vehicles in my life. Both purchased because of children, car seats, strollers, bulky diaper bags, and because we thought it necessary. A Saturn wagon the color of a forest and a black Town and Country mini-van which gave us lots of room on our way to Grandma’s house, but was a total piece of junk. Right from the beginning there were problems. And the worst kind of problems. The kind that even the professionals couldn’t figure out. Nobody knew why the van smelled like a damp basement or why the air conditioner sounded like a moose giving a love call. This was in the first few months. Oh well. Done and done.

    Big Blue is quite a handsome specimen of a truck. I’m glad you bought it for yourself, particularly at that difficult time in your life. I’ve heard said money can’t buy you happiness, but sometimes the things it buys can soften a blow or make a happy ending to a difficult day. I get down right giddy when I find a bargain on pretty table linens, solid earth tone dishes, or beautiful large pictures of fall trees, or really any trees. You know, the kind that makes you feel as though you can walk right into it.

    What a wonderful large family you have. I remember big gatherings, such as that in your photo, when I was a kid. Those were some good times. You are so blessed.

    It’s such a treat browsing through your literary attic finding little treasures I’ve not yet read. Thank you for the goodies.

    Comment by Francine — August 12, 2013 @ 1:09 am

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