Monday, May 24, 2010


[This new story is a slight departure from my usual fair in that it is true. And I would like to dedicate it to my father, Arthur R. Kokko. As always, the reader will have to come back to the blog every Monday to get the entire story. Racers, start your engines!]

Everything’s a metaphor. I wasn’t the first to say this. Some wise person, I don’t recall who, once said it. It’s true. We can discover truths about our world, what we are, who we are, and why, by simply uncovering the many allusions that exist with people, places and things. We often overlook this vast resource of wisdom because most of us are too busy striving to be the other guy’s metaphor. I rekindled my own interest in metaphors when I purchased one. I bought a sports car.
The fact that I was middle aged at the time was purely coincidental. You think not? I’ll have you know that I am the poster child of safety. I avoid risky behavior at all costs. I even hate roller-coasters. So how does a sports car with all its pent up mayhem draw a person like me, who is quite at home in the hub, to venture out onto the wheel. I don’t know…. Okay, it was a mid-life crisis. In all fairness, though, I have always loved fast wheels—especially if I’m in control.
My first car was a dull gray peddle-car. I don’t know the specific model of car it was supposed to be, but I didn’t care because it was my first ride. I’ve been told that I had spent hours with a hose and sponge trying to make her shine, but to no avail. There’s definitely a metaphor in there somewhere. I’ll leave it to the reader, though, to ponder what that metaphor might be.
A little later in my childhood, I went through a phase of collecting and coddling Matchbox cars. These were the originals made precisely to scale by Lesney Products in England. I sold my pristine collection for about an order-of-magnitude gain over the initial investment. Not bad, but I should have saved the boxes. I would have profited even more had I saved my meager Hot Wheels collection. But Hot Wheels were my expendable cars that I would paint and crash without mercy; hence I bequeathed to myself only a painful memory not unlike what someone today must experience as they recall the time they traded in their low mileage ’67 Mustang for a new Pinto.
In my Tween years I graduated to gas powered model cars; the first one being a replica of the famous Ford GT. The car was so fast that the only way you could use it was by tethering it and watching it morph into a blue ribbon until the gas ran out. Not much fun, but very visceral. The second was a dune buggy that came with changeable gears. I spent most of our short tenure together cleaning its fickle engine and polishing its blue metal fleck finish, while trying to figure out some way of making it go faster than 0.00001 mph. I later sold it in a rummage sale. I didn’t tell those naive new owners that they could start the buggy going, have lunch, and return an hour later to find it had advanced only about two feet. Perhaps they wouldn’t have cared; not everyone buys vehicles for speed and performance. And doggone-it, the toy looked really cool. I never heard from them, so I guess they were happy.
One could probably glean many profound metaphors from my early exploits with cars. Collectively, I see them as a metaphor for transcendent value. What I mean is this. We have come to believe value is a subjective expedient of the moment. It isn’t. Value is both objective and transcendent. Value is found with a rarified heart, like that of a child. Value is lost to us and distorted by our expectations and jaded cynicism. But value remains true and constant, even though our perception and appreciation of it changes.