Perception

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Two of Dad’s loves were architecture and cars. One of the ways he put himself through college was to buy old cars that were being sold for a pittance, then fix them up and sell them for a big profit. You don’t want to know how many times I had to hear his speech about how the car companies are evil for making their cars impossible to fix on your own. (It’s not that I don’t agree with him, but after hearing the same speech umpteen times you get kind of sick of it, you know?) Although Dad’s delineation work didn’t require him to have strong knowledge of architecture, it surely helped, and Dad did redesign the house after the fire. His ability to identify makes and models of old cars was awe-inspiring, and his knowledge of architecture was expansive to say the least. (I wish I’d had the opportunity to take him on a drive to and from MCCC‘s main campus, because he would have gotten a huge kick out of all the old barns I pass along the way.)

These past couple of days I’ve had a couple of experiences that kind of tied in to those things. Yesterday I finally went out to see The Shops at Fallen Timbers, a new "Lifestyle Centre" development along the same lines of Levis Commons. Back when I first went to Levis Commons I thought it was a unique new development; it’s only been in the past month or so when I’ve gotten into researching mall history (spurred on by the recent closing of Southwyck I blogged about earlier) that I’ve come to realize that these developments are more common than I believed them to be, and that they’re being built at a fairly high rate these days. At first Fallen Timbers struck me as a larger version of Levis Commons (I wanted to check out the Barnes and Noble at Fallen Timbers since it’s about three times the size of the one I normally go to), but the buildings at Fallen Timbers look, well, kind of bland. The main buildings at Levis Commons are built with Victorian architecture in mind — something I just happened to pick up from Dad, who only went to Levis Commons once and declared it was "too good for Toledo" — and I think that’s one of the main reasons I go down there as often as I do, even though I don’t care much for the shops there. Fallen Timbers has shops that are more useful for me, but it’s not the kind of place where I could just walk around looking at the buildings for a while. I suppose I’ll go back to Fallen Timbers once there’s a good special at Barnes and Noble, and maybe then I’ll look around a bit more.

On the car front, as I was driving home from teaching this afternoon, I noticed a very rundown car idling next to me at a stoplight. Rundown cars in this part of town are a fairly common sight, but then I noticed that the car in question was a Dodge Neon. It really struck me at that point that, even though I couldn’t care less about cars (as long as mine get me to where I need to be and then back home), I was looking at a car that couldn’t have been more than fourteen years old, and I thought to myself, "Wow, that car looks really old." (Keep in mind that I drove a 1985 Toyota Camry through college.) Honestly, I don’t see how I could have known that the Neon was an old car — perhaps the dings and dents on the side were throwing me off — but it’s hard for me to accept that a car made in 1994 was old because, damn it, that’s the year I turned eighteen, and I can’t be that old. Yes, I am that old, I know, but I still don’t get how I could think of that car as being old. If you asked me to name the differences in design between a car that was made fifteen years ago and a car that was made last year, I wouldn’t be able to come up with a single thing to say. (At least with my Camry it had that boxy first-cars-from-Japan look to it.) Still, I don’t need more reminders of just how old I am, and I guess now I can’t escape them even when I’m driving.

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