|KEATON IS HILARIOUS AS THE STAY AT HOME DAD. HE CONTENDS WITH THE RIGORS OF CHILD CARE, THE NEVER ENDING BATTLE OF HOUSEWORK WHILE FENDING OFF KILLER APPLIANCES. AT THE SAME TIME, GARR IS FACED WITH SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT WORK.|
The "sparks" fly when Garr's boss Ron Richardson, (Martin Mull) picks her up for work at 7:00AM. Keaton with the house already upside down, in defense of his masculinity meets the boss with a running chainsaw. He turns it off while getting acquainted and said, "I'll be tearing out these walls...and of course re-wiring..." The boss said, "Gonna make it all 220." Jack, who knows nothing about electricity or voltage says, "Yeah 220, 221 whatever it takes." As Caroline and Ron Richardson are leaving Jack calls out, "Honey, if you call and I'm not home, I'll be at the gym or the gun club."
"MR. MOM," was already ten years old when my wife Sue got pregnant. So, long before my son Andrew was born in 1994, I already embraced the concept of being Mr. Mom. I once shared that sentiment with my father and he said, "Not me! When you or your sister needed to have your doody diapers changed, I ran in the opposite direction." I explained that cloth diapers have been replaced by disposable ones with easy to use Velcro. Dad's experience in the army shined through as he blasted, "I'm not getting hoodwinked into KP." I said, "Kitchen Patrol?" He said, "No! Krap Patrol." Dad wasn't big on profanity so the gist of his next response was; Velcro or not, it's the same shit.
|(Stock Photo) LUCKILY CLOTH DIAPERS WERE ANCIENT HISTORY DECADES BEFORE I BECAME A DAD. THE ABILITY TO HOLD THE CHILD STILL WHILE SECURING THE DIAPER PERFECTLY AND PINNING IT, WAS AN ART FORM THAT WOULD HAVE ABSOLUTELY ESCAPED ME.|
A week after Andrew was born, he was circumcised, (OUCHIES!). The Jewish tradition of the bris includes the honor of the eldest male family member holding the boy during the ritual. My dad was adamant and said, "No!" The rabbi (mohel, Americanized pronunciation; moyle), showed my dad a medieval-looking restraining contraption and said, "If you're skittish, I'll have to use this." Dad looked at the board and its leather straps. Miraculously, he set aside his squeamishness and announced, "I'm the grandfather, I'll hold Andrew!" And he did. And everything went smoothly even if dad looked the other way.
|WHETHER OR NOT THE HOLDING ANDREW DURING THE BRIS WAS THE CATALYST WE'LL NEVER KNOW, BUT GRAMPS' BOND WITH HIM WAS IMMEDIATE AND SOLID. IT'S A DAMNED SHAME THAT MY FATHER LEFT US, LESS THAN A YEAR AFTER THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN.|
In the years that followed, I accepted the different roles of being Mr. Mom. One of my new realizations included the phasing out of my regular sedan, (Chevy Corsica). Andrew had plenty of friends so the moms would rotate transporting groups of kids. So I didn't feel like a "sell-out" when I bought a mini-van, in 2000. Besides, the added room came in handy for vacations or for hauling larger items.
Six days ago, without much fanfare, we observed that Toyota Sienna's fifteenth birthday. The celebration was muted because on April ninth, (two days later), we bought an SUV to replace our respected, reliable workhorse.
|OUR MINI-VAN WAS STILL GOING STRONG IN THE TWILIGHT OF MIDDLE-AGE. SO IT WAS NOT A MATTER OF IT BEING OVER-THE-HILL WHEN WE REPLACED IT WITH THE HONDA CR-V (above).|
I am not here to eulogize my Toyota Sienna, I'm here to celebrate its service. I remember the first day. My six-year old Andrew was climbing in and out of every demo-model and frolicking through the dealership, (Turnersville NJ) while the two-hour ordeal of processing the paperwork was going on.
|ANDREW WAS NINE, IN 2003. I DOUBT HE HAS MANY CLEAR MEMORIES OF THE CAR THAT PRECEDED THE MINI-VAN, (above, in background).|
The van's fifteen year stint with us did have some setbacks, (that weren't its fault). One time Sue came home and said she hit a dog. I went outside and saw a huge chunk of the from grill missing. I said that dog must have been on steroids. Later Sue admitted, "It might have been a deer?"
Sue was much more seriously victimized in 2003, (with Andrew, another mom and her two kids). That's when some asshole threw a brick off an overpass on the Atlantic City Expressway, (near Philadelphia). Luckily, she maintained her composure as the passenger side of the windshield was shattered, the beam that separates the windshield from the passenger window was badly dented and the side view mirror was destroyed.
A year later, a half mile from the house, Sue (with Andrew) was making a right turn off Jimmie Leeds Road onto Second Avenue. Not the car behind her, but a third car, (driven by a nearby Stockton College genius) was reading while driving. He was smart enough to swerve onto the right shoulder to avoid the middle car but incredibly stupid to continue at full speed until he rammed innocent Sue. The door where Andrew was sitting was smashed in, (fortunately, the Sienna is known for its safety features. Other than the shock value and broken glass, everyone escaped unscathed).
The last bit of negativity happened ten years ago when the van failed inspection due to emissions. I brought it to the same mechanic I had used for many years. I trusted the manager because I was treated fairly which led to the development of a friendly relationship, (I'll sarcastically call him "Rich" because that's what he tried to make himself at my expense).
Rich told me the van needed $3,200.00 in repairs. Toyotas are supposed to last forever, I was stunned. This "friend" told me that in addition to other minor problems that they needed to rip out the whole exhaust system including the catalytic converter. I was punch-drunk and whined, "Still, that's a ridiculous amount of money."
My good buddy told me, my car was unusual in that it was specifically built in California with parts unique to that plant. So before he could mention that the parts are hard to find and ultra-expensive, I doubted his sincerity because I remembered that the hallmark of manufacturing, dating back to the 1840's, was the standardization of parts.
He quickly changed the subject and told me that doing the repairs...while expensive...was far more cost effective than scrapping the van and buying a new one. He had me on the ropes again. His schtick about making ten, $300.00 credit card payments instead of taking-on a fresh, five-year car loan made sense. Somehow, I avoided getting duped, gathered myself and called Sue. She was there in ten minutes. Rich re-explained the situation. It that time, I spaced-out. But luckily I also had an epiphany and said to myself: we need a second opinion.
At work, I shared my experience with friends. They all agreed it sounded like bullshit. My poker buddy Jerry took it one step further and told me to see his mechanic, two small towns farther away.
The owner's name was Ed. I told him my car failed inspection because of emissions...and nothing else. Later, he told me I needed two new tires. His voice picked up intensity as he listed my broken this and worn-out that. I was afraid that he was going to confirm Rich's diagnosis. But he never mentioned the exhaust system or catalytic converter. Ed was still blithering about other technicalities that I couldn't fathom until he said, "All together, it'll run you $153.00." I said, "How's my exhaust pipes?" He said, "Other than a couple of adjustments, this has little to do with your exhaust system." He started rattling off the same problems when I interrupted and said, "Do the job."
I took my Toyota Sienna to the inspection station and it passed and subsequently never failed for emissions again. I've been bringing all my cars to Ed ever since.
Over the course of time, I found out that Rich was the victim of severe personal problems that were out of his or anybody's control. NOBODY would ever want to be in his shoes! But no matter how hard-up he might have been for cash, he should never have tried to rip-off a loyal customer.
Coincidentally, I brought my mini-van to Ed's garage on April Fool's Day, (two weeks ago). My idea was...Ed and his staff have always kvelled, (been delighted for me) over the longevity of my Toyota. So because they knew how strong the engine etc was and how well I kept it up, I thought someone there might broker a deal and sell it for me, (its trade value at a dealership would be less than $100.00).
I didn't see Ed but I saw the master mechanic R. R told me Ed sold the place and the new owners kept all the workers, (lucky for them...lucky for me). R took my van for a test ride. We discussed its assets and drawbacks. We started talking numbers and R said, "I'll buy it right now!" And he did, a day after we took possession of Sue's new Honda CR-V.
In the morning before dropping the van off for R, I topped off the gas tank for him. The price was $2.20.9/per gallon. The 220.9 number made me recall the line from, "MR. MOM" "220, 221 whatever it takes." Then I recalled that my weight has been hovering around those same numbers. Then I looked down at the odometer, 221,691, (a thousand less and it would been exactly between 220,000 and 221,000).
R and I agreed on consummating the sale at 2:30. I showed up as the digital clock clicked from 2:20 to 2:21. I smiled because my instincts told me it was going to be great day...and it was.
Of course now, with a brand-spanking-new SUV, I'll have to re-think how to handle my dog Roxy's excursions to the beach, the vet, the park or to Smithville.
|ROXY LOVES THE BEACH. DESPITE CLEANING HER BEFORE GOING BACK IN THE VAN, SHE STILL TRACKED WET SAND IN. SO UNTIL THE NEW CAR SMELL OF SUE'S HINDA CR-V WEARS-OFF, I'M NOT SURE WE'RE READY TO LET DOGGIE DROOL OR OTHERWISE BEFOUL THE INTERIOR JUST YET.|
Incidentally, down through the years I've asked 220...maybe 221 car experts and NOBODY ever heard of a specific auto plant using unique parts!
And remember you heard this here FIRST! If Sue's new Honda SUV lasts as long as the van, I'll be seventy-four when I sell it. Wow, that's crazy talk! I won't be Mr. Mom...hell, I'll be Mr. Grand Mom.