Dear Tom and Ray:
I'm in a bit of a pickle, and maybe you can help me out. My dad is going through a bit of a midlife crisis and wants to buy a brand-new Honda motorcycle. Now, I'm not opposed to motorcycling, but I'd like to spend the money (about six to eight grand) on something I could do with my dad, like purchase some old car and restore it. I was thinking of some car from the '60s or '70s, something big and loud but generally simple to find parts for and fix up. Neither my dad nor I are mechanics, but I'm pretty handy at fixing things. I'm 17 and going to be a junior in high school, so I'd like to spend some time with my dad restoring a car before I go off to college. Do you have any suggestions for what make/model/year to look for? What to avoid? I would greatly appreciate any advice you could give me. Thanks. -- Eric
TOM: Eric, here's our advice: Back off. Whose midlife crisis is this, anyway? It's your dad's. So let the guy have his midlife crisis in peace, will ya?
RAY: Right. You have to wait 20 or 30 years for yours. And then you can decide to go nuts any way you choose.
TOM: The point of a midlife crisis is to do something selfish. Presumably, you've spent 25 years doing things for other people -- going to work every day, driving a car that's safe for your family, chauffeuring your kids to soccer. And some guys reach a point where they just need to remember what it's like to be young and irresponsible again.
RAY: They suddenly see the day looming when nurse Ratched is going to be spoon-feeding them applesauce, and the biggest thrill in their life is going to be afternoon reruns of "Barnaby Jones."
TOM: So, by definition, doing something that YOU want, Eric, is not a solution to HIS midlife crisis. And if you keep him from buying his motorcycle (as dangerous as that might be), you might push him to do something even dumber -- something that will eventually involve divorce attorneys and loss of visitation rights.
RAY: So I'd back off, Eric. I know you want him to buy a cool car that you can then take to college with you. But tough luck. Let him spend his money on the motorcycle. And when the life-insurance settlement comes in, you and Mom can buy an old muscle car to fix up.