Thinking back, I remember as a kid being dragged along with my father to expensive auto dealerships. He was a car nut and his dream was to own a new Mercedes or a BMW. Our house was full of his Motor Trend magazines that always showed the latest model. One day he was going buy that Porsche or that classic Corvette. It wasn’t like he didn’t have the means, he’d been working for one of the big three since the day after his high school graduation. All it would take would some saving and some dedication and it would be his.
Thirty years later, he still hasn’t gotten that new luxury car and the only Mercedes he had was a used one he bought from a dentist. While he makes a six figure income, my father lacks the discipline needed to get the things he wants. He’s a procrastinator and he hates to pay bills, a very bad combination. With forty years on the job, his credit is shot and he doesn’t have most things people his age have. No house that’s paid for (he lost that to one of his ex-wives), no cabin up north, and he lives in an antiquated apartment in a rundown little suburb and I think he may have a gambling problem. He’s staring down the throat of 60 and still can’t get his life together. He has all these big dreams and can’t seem to make them come true.
Early in adulthood, I noticed I was picking up some of his bad habits. I didn’t like to pay bills and I procrastinated with things that were important. Looking at the old man, I knew I had to do better and I did. I’m a responsible adult now.
I can’t say the same for my brother, who’s in his thirties and who coincidentally is named after Dad. Because of our issues with Dad, we call him by the nickname he’s had since the day he was born, Buster. And the dear boy behaves just like someone named Buster.
Now Buster wants this and Buster wants that, but like dear old Dad he doesn’t want to deal with the responsibilities. He wanted to own property, so he was buying a dilapidated hole in the wall house, deep in the heart of Detroit. Well, Buster didn’t like to pay bills so one day he comes home to find all his belongings in a dumpster. All the designer jeans, sneakers, and clothes he coveted were tossed in the garbage. Though I’m sure he’d gotten notice of an eviction, he just didn’t think they’d put him out.
Like my father, Buster’s obsession is cars. He tells me how you can get a used Bentley for fifty grand and he was looking into getting a used Escalade. Um..Bentley’s and Escalades aren’t Chevy’s I tell him. Think of the upkeep on a high end luxury vehicle like that. But I don’t know what I’m talking about, he says. Start small I tell him, but he never listens. This weekend he told me about his next vehicle purchase, a used Chevy Tahoe, with a monthly note of almost $600. I try to warn him to look at other dealerships, but it’s too late. His mind is made up.
Buster always has some big scheme of how he’s going to live the high life. He’s talked about everything from buying his own apartment building to starting his own business renovating houses. Sure it sounds good on paper, but such endeavors take money that he doesn’t have. Like my father, he’s a big dreamer without the dedication needed to see things through. He wants to make these big moves, before he takes the baby steps.
It’s almost painful to watch my brother walk right into my father’s footsteps. I want to warn him, help him to avoid my father’s mistakes, but he won’t listen. I just hope one day he veers off his current course and doesn’t follow my father completely down his path.