Sunday, March 25, 2012

Goodbye Old Friend

Me, The Puffer, and Amy, the Puffer's new proud owner. 

So, today was an emotional day. First of all, I am hungover from drinking too many PBR's last night.  Second, I officially handed over the keys to the 1978 Volkswagon Camper Van to it's new owner. 

When my father brought  this ray of sunshine to our home back sometime when I was in highschool I think, I saw a love in his eyes I had never seen before. I saw a man dedicated to the health and well being, the future condition, the current comfort, the absolute investment and safety of, and the beautification of something, and it was most certainly not me. It was a 1978, schoolbus orange, VW camper van. I could hardly blame him, I was head over heels in love too. We all were. It was and is still today impossible to be around this vehicle and feel anything short of glee,  joy, pure gag-me-out happiness. I was forbidden to drive it, end of discussion, I am walking away, sort of thing which made me so freakin mad. If people, ya know my friends, could see me behind the wheel of this thing I am SURE it would up my street cred. My dad would not budge. I could not even take it around the block and he got  a real kick out of enforcing it. My brother was not as smittin with the van as I was, I don't think my mom was either, but me and my dad were on the same page with the van, and dammit, he loved that thing more than me. 

We went camping in it all the time, it was awesome. It was like a mini RV and it had all the comforts like a stove, a sink, a refridgerator, closets, a breakfast nook, an awesome circus like tent that attached to it and even electricity, we could plug in a toaster! We were the family that had toast when we camped, I'll be damned.  When we were not camping in it my dad was polishing it, working on it, or modifying it in some small cool way. When my nieces came along, they too had an incessant love and longing to be around it . We played in it, slept in it, took pictures in it and talked on and on about it. They officially named it The Puffer Belly, I think after the Puffer fish or maybe it was a train thing, I don't recall, and it stuck

Then there came a day when out of nowhere, my dad handed me the keys and said go take it for a spin. I was well into college by now and I have no idea, to this day what sparked the change of heart but I knew better then to ask questions, I grabbed the keys and was off. It was as wonderfully magical to drive as I had ever dreamed it would be, no power steering, strange quirks on how to shift, no heat, and if you had the misfortune of a wind of any kind, you better have some upper body strenght to keep this baby on the road. It really did up my street cred, I knew it would, people thought I was really an interesting and fantastically happy person. As I would drive down the road people would wave wildly, honk their horns, smile like they had never smiled before, point, mouth gaping open at this bizzare sight. Kids would chase after me on their bikes, like I was the freakin ice cream man, "no kid, I don't have any candy!" It was not possible for you to drive the puffer in a foul mood becuase it was sort of your job to smile the entire time, people expected it, and you can't disappoint the people. 

Well, after my dad passed away, the puffer was like our connection to him. I knew that when I was driving it or washing it or generally being good to it, he was happy, in the "looking down from heaven" sort of a way. I took it on several memorable camping trips, the best being to outdoor weekend concerts, it was the place to be. I did not have to do anything but simply pull up, turn it off and open the door and the people, like bees to honey, would start to arrive. The puffer was the "Field of Dreams" of vehicles, if you drive it, they will come. 

Over time though, the Puffer sat more than it went, whether it was in storage, where mice would snack on it, or baking in the sun in the driveway. Ya know the story of "The Giving Tree" right? Well it was like the tree, it was sad and lonely and I was always too busy, the nieces were too and it was aging. Like a beautiful dog in a kennel, I was determined to set it free, find some crazy hippie in California to live it in. Enter Amy, good bless her, the very hippie I had been searching for. She wanted to get rid of much of her eathly possessions and become part of the Puffer. She started referring to it as the Bliss Portal, which I quickly shot down. Never,  NEVER call the Puffer the Bliss Portal, ever, not in my presence or out of my presence. I think I may have gotten my point across, I should have written a contract or something up to make it official, but I trust her to do the right thing. 

As I sit here and write this, I wonder what Don Bruno is thinking, in that: "looking down from heaven" sort of a way. Is he rolling over in his proverbial grave, or is he gasping at how much money I got for it. Though I don't really want to know what may or may not happen in the "Bliss Portal" I want to say goodbye to a very special old friend, Thank you for the times Puffer Belly, and God Speed. 

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