Yesterday my students started working on metaphorms, a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else. In this case, the thing is supposed to represent the American dream as interpreted by the students. We’ve been discussing the concept of the American dream for the past couple of days in anticipation of reading none other than The Great Gatsby, our final—yeah!—novel of the 2010-11 school year. It is inevitable that in discussing such topics in the classroom, I’m lead to quietly reflect.
Big Red has been patiently waiting for a break in the rainy weather we’ve been having since the last snowflake fell MONTHS ago. He’s had the pan (the foundation of the car) of his 63’ VW stripped for some time now, but the weather has prevented him from beginning the priming and painting process. He needed 72 hours of clear weather, because once he etched the pan (spraying a solution of acid onto the bare metal in preparation for priming), he would have limited time before flash rust would begin to creep up. There was a clear afternoon earlier in the week and he managed to sneak in the etching. Yesterday afternoon he was all set to get going on the first coat of primer when the skies once again open up in a deluge of water. Thankfully, the storm passed quickly and he bolted for the garage to set himself up for the first coat of primer.
After some time Olive and I went outside to check on him. Olive took off after some birds and to find a stick to chew on, and I inspected Big Red’s work. He was applying a thick silver colored liquid with a sponge brush, carefully covering and soaking all seams. It was detailed work if I ever saw any, and he had TWO sides of the pan to prime. I offered up my services knowing that if I didn’t the poor man would be outside priming until the wee hours of the night—and of course, there was more rain on the way. He only had a couple of hours. Fifteen minutes in and I was privately regretting my offer to help.
Painting is one of those activities that seems like fun, and it is for the first few minutes. Applying color gives instant visual gratification. It’s the quickest way to change the look of just about anything. This was no different. Each stroke of the sponge soaked in silver primer transformed the marbled and oxidizing metal. And then it just wasn't fun anymore, leaning over to reach precarious seems, and the sun that decided to grace us with its presence, was uncharacteristically severe. But we got it done. And just in time for the next dousing to begin. Big Red was incredibly thankful for my help and that certainly made me feel good.
I’m thinking that the VW is part of Big Red’s American dream. And not just the car itself, but everything that comes with the car and the process of restoring it. It’s the man two weeks after he’s just gotten married that he buys his dream project. It’s working on the car in his own driveway. It’s priming the pan while his dog rolls around in the yard he cuts lines across with a mower on Sundays. It’s a Thursday afternoon, working with his wife, talking about the things that husbands and wives talk about on Thursday afternoons.