Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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Published on Friday, April 30, 2021

How to get men talking


Thursday April 29, 2021 


Men don’t like talking about emotions. They have a hang-up about discussing their hang-ups. If you want to get men talking, ask about their first car.

            This tactic doesn’t work as well in mixed groups. Some women don’t care about cars. A few have never actually owned a car. They’ve left car ownership to their boyfriends or husbands.

            Cars seem to matter more to men. It’s a macho thing, I guess.

            That first car was a rite of passage. An entry to the adult world. A portal to an alternate universe.

            My first car, I remember, was a lemon-yellow 1947 Triumph 1800 with the steering wheel on the wrong side.. Number 137 off the assembly line. As the British car industry sought to recover from WWII, the Triumph company cobbled together a sports car from its parts bins. And perhaps from some competitors’ parts bins too. And wrapped around that collage of parts a voluptuous aluminum body based on the 1930s.

            My car had its life shortened when a drunken driver in a Ford sedan tried to occupy all three lanes of a two-lane road.

            I returned to the Triumph marque some 35 years later, with a badly mistreated TR7 -- the only car I have ever owned that ate piston rings for breakfast. Inside the car, it was hard to tell whether I was losing yet another set of piston rings or just listening to a Jamaican steel band on the radio.

            My second car was a prosaic 1950 Hillman. With just enough power to maintain 40 mph against a headwind.

            Which it always had.

            When I eventually sold it, the prospective owner asked if it would be good for a family. I assured him it would. And it was -- I used his cash to buy Joan’s engagement ring.


A cheer for Peter Egan

            These musings were prompted by a book called Side Glances by Peter Egan, long-time columnist for Road & Track magazine.

            Egan has a gift for hyperbole. There hasn’t been much laughter around my house this last year, but his description of an obsessed car collector cornering the world market for pastel-coloured Nash Metropolitans left me helpless with laughter.

            Ditto for his numerous encounters with a Lotus 7.

            You’ve never heard of a Lotus 7? It’s an oversized roller skate with a hyperactive engine and no luxuries whatsoever. Its designer, Colin Chapman, eliminated everything that didn’t make the car go.

            Chapman also had a hand in designing the fabled Coventry Climax engine. Once, I almost bought a Morgan with an 1100 c.c. Climax. The engine was well named. It sounded as if it was having an orgasm at every gear change.

            Then a mechanic warned me it was making more clanks and bangs than it had cylinders to make them with.

            I suspect guys pick their first car based on what they’d like to be. They base their second car on what they can handle, financially and emotionally.

            The same principle might apply to their girlfriends.

            Typically, guys will say, “I should never have gotten rid of that car.” I wonder if they would say the same about their… nah, men would never talk about personal relationships….


Copyright © 2021 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.

            To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca





“Oh my gosh, Jim!” wrote Gloria Jorgenson about my Earth Day column. “I could have written that column! I've been an environmentalist for almost 50 years. When the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ movement started, I was there. During my children's upbringings, I preached and practiced this. These people are now grandparents and have no regard whatsoever for the environment. Plastic cups, bags and utensils are a daily part of their lives. They are all so excited to be grandparents and yet seem to have no thought for the earth they are handing off to the next generations. How sad! I, too, am pessimistic!”


Tom Watson shared my pessimism: “The reason to remain profoundly pessimistic about the human impact on this planet is that humans are, in the end, self-interested. Rationally or irrationally, that's what we are. Doing what we need to do to have less impact on our environment means doing with ‘less’ while our instinct seems to be to want ‘more’.”


But Steve Roney challenged my pessimism about humanity collectively: “By what mechanism do individuals become less moral simply by joining together? How can you account for that?”

            JT: I don’t try to explain it; I simply observe it.

            Steve went on, “We have to ask what our ultimate goals and values are. If it is to improve the number and longevity of all life forms, we have a problem. The very medical progress you laud comes in large part from killing bacteria and parasites.

            “Trying to make the welfare of all species our concern is vain. Our focus has to be on what improves the lives of our fellow humans.”


In last week’s column, I objected to subdivisions filled with 5,000-square-foot single-family residences. Ted Wilson countered, “So you like my idea of building a massive Hong Kong style high rise complexes?”

            In further correspondence, Ted admitted, “I was being facetious to make the point that criticism without an alternative is not constructive. Switching to Timmies would not be much of an improvement.  What we are both trying to say is that we humans need to make a smaller less impactful footprint on the landscape.”


James West: “We experienced your paraphrase of Psalm 23 yesterday. I set up a new home in the Pittsburgh area last week and picked up my wife and five-year-old cat from the airport yesterday.”




Psalm paraphrase


This paraphrase of Psalm 22 goes back to the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, when the disease inspired both terror and loathing. Today, it might be applicable to the front line workers who put their lives on the line every day to care for victims of COVID-19.


23        Behold a saint!
Few could do what she does:
she goes down to the hospice, every day, 

24        where people waste away with AIDS.
She does not hide her face behind a mask, nor her hands inside rubber gloves.
When they cry in misery, she cradles them in her arms.

25        We shake our heads in awe at such selfless service. 

26        She feeds them, spoonful by spoonful.
They watch with sunken burning eyes;
they turn their skin-tight skulls and kiss her cheek. 

27        Their own families turn away from them;
long after their sons and brothers, their daughters and sisters, have died, those families will remember her devotion. 

28        In her they see God's kind of love;
love that has no limits and sets no conditions.

29        God's love does not distinguish between the froth on the top and the dregs on the bottom;
it makes no distinctions between the lords and the lepers of our society.

30        Years from now, people will speak of her visits in hushed voices;
they will hold her high as an example to follow. 

31        Because of her, they will know God better.


You can find paraphrases of most of the psalms in the Revised Common Lectionary in my book Everyday Psalms available from Wood Lake Publishing, info@woodlake.com.






If you want to comment on something, send a message directly to me, jimt@quixotic.ca.

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            I write a second column each Sunday called Sharp Edges, which tends to be somewhat more cutting about social and justice issues. To sign up for Sharp Edges, write to me directly, jimt@quixotic.ca, or send a note to sharpedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca

            And for those of you who like poetry, please check my webpage .https://quixotic.ca/My-Poetry I posted several new poetic works there a few weeks ago. If you’d like to receive notifications about new poems, write me at jimt@quixotic.ca, or subscribe yourself to the list by sending a blank email (no message) to poetry-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca (If it doesn’t work, please let me know.)






To use the links in this section, you’ll have to insert the necessary symbols. Some spam filters have blocked my posts because they’re suspicious of some of the web links.

            Wayne Irwin's “Churchweb Canada,” an inexpensive service for any congregation wanting to develop a web presence, with free consultation. http://wwwDOTchurchwebcanadaDOTca He’s also relatively inexpensive!

            I recommend Isabel Gibson’s thoughtful and well-written blog, wwwDOTtraditionaliconoclastDOTcom. She also has lots of beautiful photos. Especially of birds.

            Tom Watson writes a weekly blog called “The View from Grandpa Tom’s Balcony” -- ruminations on various subjects, and feedback from Tom’s readers. Write him at tomwatsoATgmailDOTcom (NB that’s “watso” not “watson”)



            I have acquired (don’t ask how) the complete archive of the late Alva Wood’s collection of satiric and sometimes wildly funny columns about a mythical village’s misadventures. I’ve put them on my website: http://quixotic.ca/Alva-Wood-Archive. You’re welcome to browse. No charge. (Although maybe if I charged a fee, more people would find the archive worth visiting.)



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Author: Jim Taylor

Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: cars, Peter Egan, Road & Track, men



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