I was telling Vincenzo the other day about how his Poppy—my dad—owned anywhere between 8 and 10 cars at a time when I was growing up. “Wow, he must have been RICH!” Vincenzo said, until I explained about the condition each car was in. One of the cars I drove, for example, had a padlock on the door handle because the actual lock didn’t work. Its passenger side door didn’t open at all and it was a two-door car, so everyone had to climb in through the driver’s seat. The radio didn’t work. It had a slow oil leak so that I never had to actually get the oil changed; I just dumped a gallon of oil into it every other month. There was a huge donut-shaped rust stain taking up the entire hood.
Still, I was grateful to have a car to drive and was kind of proud when I won “Best Beater Car” in my high school yearbook, following in my sister’s steps before me. (She won the title with a different one of Dad’s cars.)
Then I told Vincenzo about the time Poppy actually bought a decent looking car, without rust stains, with a working radio that actually played FM, and all the doors and windows opened and closed the way they were supposed to. And he let me drive it!. Which I did, until one day I missed a stop sign and T-boned a van driving perpendicular to me and totaled Poppy’s car.
I told Vincenzo that when I called up Poppy to tell him the news I was so worried about how mad he’d be about the car, but all he said was, “The car doesn’t matter at all. All that matters is that you are all right.”
I sat back, done with my story and having taught Vincenzo an important lesson about his mother’s roots, his grandfather’s personality, material goods, and the value life. I asked Vincenzo what he thought of the story.
He answered, “Of course Poppy cared more about you than the car. That car wasn’t worth very much money!”
And that’s what you call missing the point.
He did miss the point, didn’t he? Right, Dad?