24 November 2006

So, how's the car??

This is an extract of an article which I read in the Reader’s Digest sometime back and happened to come across it again by chance and by luck. I find the article very relevant to myself (and it goes without saying to my sister and all the girls who’ve stayed with their parents till they got married).

Here is how it goes:

So, how’s the car?
– By Cindy Chupack

There are 2 things I can count on my dad asking every time he calls me at my home: “is there anything I can do for you?” and “how’s the car?”
I suspect he asks what he can do for me because his dad was never really there for him, and he’s doggedly determined to provide my sister and me with the support he lacked.
During my youth, he never missed a dance recital, school play or game. In fact, he was so supportive, I occasionally longed for one of those dads who dressed better and cared less, but it was not to be. My dad would forever be the guy wearing shorts with dress shoes and black socks, cheering me on, expecting greatness.

His other standard question – “how’s the car?” – used to strike me as a waste of long-distance dollars from a man who once suggested making a list of what you want to talk about before calling someone out of state. What I now realize is that “how’s the car?” is not about the car. It’s a father’s way of asking his adult daughter how she is. The advantage is that if there’s something wrong with the car, he knows what to do about it and how much it will cost, whereas if you’re having marital problems, he might have to put Mom on the line. His form of love is the classifieds. He does all the research, talks to random people, drives to random places. It would be easier to say “I love you”.
My report usually consists of me saying “its fine,” since I’ve always owned reliable cars that come strongly recommended by Consumer Reports magazine. I know this not because I’ve ever bought Consumer Reports, but because my dad copies and mails me the relevant research each time I’m in the market for a new set of wheels. He actually flew out to help me buy my two previous cars, reasoning that the plane fare was justified if he could use his accounting skills to help save me money and keep me from being lured by the siren song of financing.

Though a daughter’s independence is evidence of a job well done, it still implies the job’s done, and many fathers are reluctant to retire. Even when my dad was overworked, he’d happily hop on a plane if I said I needed help. His frequent question – “is there anything I can do for you?” underlines the fact that he wishes there was still something tangible he could provide.


  1. Wow!I could totally relate to this one.
    Really liked your style of writing...Hope to see more of it soon.