‘And not all of them were in the water’
Okay, okay. I’ll apologize for the terrible “yachts” pun. Sorta. I did win a contest with it, though, back in the Olden Days.
See, New York Magazine used to run a contest in every issue that involved wordplay, something I enjoy very much indeed, as evidenced these days with my compulsive playing of both Spelling Bee (every morning with coffee) and Wordle (every cocktail hour with, well, a cocktail).
This particular contest was to come up with funny definitions for words beginning with “y.” My winner? Yachts: many many boats. (Which is also a title of one of my pieces you can check out after this one, if you’re not too tired of being amused.)
Enough about me and my love of word games. Let’s talk about my Dad and his love of boats. I’ve written about his famous houseboat, the Sir-Launch-A-Lot. (He, ahem, loved puns too.) Today I’m going to talk about his landlubbing boats — his cars.
See, Dad didn’t like just any ole cars — he liked really big cars. Cars so big that they were like boats. He favored Chrysler New Yorkers and Lincoln Town Cars — cars so big and boatlike they were like piloting the Queen Mary. I swear you’d turn the wheel on one of those babies and it would take several seconds for the car to actually turn.
And how was the ride? If you were seated in one of these, you not only couldn’t hear any outside noise, you couldn’t feel anything on the outside either. No bumps, no potholes, no speed bumps — even those wakey-uppy grids they put before you come to a big intersection just felt like you rolled over some sandpaper.
Speaking of Town Cars, once Dad and Mom were visiting me in New York and Dad noticed many big black cars tooling around. “Look! New Yorkers love a nice big Town Car too!” Little did he realize that these Town Cars belonged to car services, not to Actual New Yorkers.
To be fair, Dad didn’t actually own his Town Cars. (Nor his Chrysler New Yorkers). He leased them as part of his business. Of course I never paid any attention to this — until I was a freshman in college and Dad told me he’d get me a car if I got straight A’s. I did, and he did. I got a cute little Chevy Vega. Bright blue. But, after a year I had to give it back. No, my grades didn’t plummet. I didn’t realize Dad had leased it. (My Oldest Younger Brother Scott was a wiser bargainer; when he got his straight A’s from Northwestern, he made Dad buy his Datsun. It was orange, I think. But it was his, I know.)
So, how big were Dad’s boats. Er, cars? They were so big that Dad hung a tennis ball (at least I think it was a tennis ball; it might have been a golf ball) from the ceiling of the garage, placed so that it bonked gently on the windshield when the boat (er, car) was pulled in enough to close the garage door without crunching any fenders.
They were also so big that once we lost a child in one. True story. A big ole batch of Henrys was visiting — maybe for Dad’s retirement party. At any rate, it was back when we sibs all had little kids in tow. We were rounding everyone up and someone had told my nephew Leo to go get in Grampa’s car, then neglected to see him sitting in the back seat. Everyone left (in other cars, no one wanting to drive the boat), and it was hours before anyone remembered about Leo. Yup. He was still in the back seat, waiting. Gosh. Maybe he’s still there. I know I haven’t seen him in a while.
Amagansett, New York. August 2023