He was a military veteran, so he was well-acquainted with the local Legion and VFW clubs, and I suspect more went on there than saluting the flag. There were also rumors of a late-night, bowling-alley melee once upon a time, when we traveled to tiny Ellis, Kan., to visit his brother.
But, most often, responsibility beamed off my father like radio signals from a 2,000-foot-high transmission tower in your back yard.
When I was 12 or 13 years old, I tagged along with Dad as he went shopping for a new family car. Unexpectedly, I fell in love … with a shiny, bright-yellow Plymouth Barracuda whispering my name from the local care dealer’s showroom floor.
“I could one day be yours, Mark!” it murmured in a sultry, smoky, female voice that only I could hear.
“Dad, this is the one!” I said, trying to appeal for this former farm boy’s need for speed. “Wouldn’t this be cool?”
There might have been just the tiniest sparkle of unrestrained excess in his eyes, but it couldn’t have lasted much more than a nanosecond. He didn’t need to explain.
Too yellow. Too sporty. Two doors.
No, the Weber family of five this day would be blessed with a brand new, five-door, s#@%!-brown Chevy Bel Air station wagon about as sporty as the calf-high black socks my dad would wear with summer shorts.
Yes, I would go on to inherit the Brown Beast, occasionally drive it back and forth to Bemidji State – until one frigid winter when someone actually stole its battery – and would still be piloting this chick repellant during my post-collegiate journalism career. I finally sold it to a pair of Norwood, Minn. lads. I think they were going to use it as a duck blind.
Turns out, the “daring” gene is recessive in the Weber clan. My current mode of transportation is a 14-year-old, four-door Honda Accord with 190,000 miles and rust creeping upward from below.
I hear they’re doing remarkable things with the human genome, and may soon isolate this particular gene. There is still hope for the Weber lineage.