Friday, April 26, 2013

Of cars and marriage

Br. John Devaney's car
Dominican Br. John Maria Devaney recently described the for better, for worse nature of marriage as a bit like his relationship with his long-running Volvo. 
As a friar, I will obviously never take wedding vows. (My until death moment came last August 11th, when I made solemn profession to God in the Order of Preachers.) Yet if you’ll allow me to share the story of a car I once owned, maybe it can shed some light on the beauty of a true, sacramental, indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman.

In the winter of 1999, returning home to New Jersey after graduating from college, I purchased a 1989 Volvo 740GL. I don’t know why, but something attracted me to Volvos, so when I found one at good price with only 80,000 miles on it, I didn’t have to think long. For the next seven or eight years, I drove that car from Maine to Virginia to Vermont. I drove it all over New York City, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. I took it on countless trips to Boston and Cape Cod and elsewhere. I installed Sirius Satellite Radio in 2002 as one of their first 100,000 customers. During the warm May and June evenings, my friends and I would open the sun roof and smoke cigars while heading into New York City for some live music. Good times.

Of course, Volvos have legendary durability when it comes to things like the drive train or the transmission. So, on my car, it was the silly stuff that would break, such as the shock mount, the turn-signal light housing, the antenna, the light over the license plate (which actually got me pulled over once), or the hub caps that seemed to fly off too easily. After a quick fix, I’d be good for thousands of more miles. From 150,000 to 200,000, from 200,000 to 250,000: as the odometer rolled on, I was just hoping I could reach the coveted 300,000-mile mark.

Read the rest of the story here


It reminds me of something I read  several years ago.  The book (I can't remember which one) was discussing the common test drive analogy used to justify cohabitation.  (You wouldn't want to buy a car without test driving it, right?)  The author said at first glance the logic sounds good, but "who wants to be the car?"  Then the author went on to describe the difference between how men treat a test drive vs. their long term vehicle.  For a test drive, speeding, quickly braking, and testing the car's limits are more common.  But when it comes to a car that a man owns, he treasures it.  He cleans it, forbids his friends from eating snacks that might make the cushions dirty, he gets the oil changed faithfully every 3,000 miles.  In short, there is a huge difference between a test drive and a long term vehicle.  

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