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March 2005 Dr. Vern

Posted in Features on March 1, 2005
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Lately, I've been plagued by feelings of inadequacy. The problem isn't, um, you know, because that could be easily overcome. For those so afflicted, one common remedy is to overcompensate by building up a big, monster Jeep. Nobody would ever suspect the real reason for the huge tires and towering lift, at least until now.

Certain pharmaceuticals can also treat that same inadequacy, although I'm still not saying this applies to me. Even though I am known far and wide as Dr. Vern, the world's only Jeep psychiatrist, the authorities have insisted that I cease prescribing medication. I can, however, encourage readers to take note of a particular TV commercial that suggests asking your doctor if a certain medication is right for you. Why waste hard-earned cash on gigantic tires if a doctor's prescription is all that is needed? (Editor's Note: If you're shy and would rather order online, carefully read the fine print. I thought I was ordering pills but received lotion instead.)

That's enough of the medical discussion. The entirely different inadequacy from which I suffer is that I simply don't know my place in the world of old Jeeps. It seems there is always somebody else with a better Jeep than mine. With my '48 CJ-2A I've never felt compelled to make upgrades just for the sake of change. It is not nearly close enough to original, however, for me to be accepted by the numbers-matching 100-percent restoration crowd. After just a few minutes of examining the modifications on my Jeep, those guys would be aghast. Forming an angry mob, armed with period-correct torches and F-stamped pitchforks, they'd try to run me out of town. This probably isn't a good time to mention that I have the wrong air in the tires too. Having searched all over for a supply from 1948, the closest I could find was a can of 1951 air. That was barely enough for the four tires, so I had to tap a can from 1954 for the spare.

Here I am, unfit for the restoration fanatics because my Jeep has been modified too much. At the other end of the spectrum, because my Jeep hasn't been modified enough, the overcompensating, extreme four-wheeling crowd won't take me either. To add insult to injury, there's another situation where I also feel equally out of place. Jeep-related inadequacies are bad enough, but at my children's school, I'm intimidated by the other parents.

Unlike the Jeep owners segregated into the resto or overcompensation camps, the parents of the other students get along fine. With their hyphenated names and well-behaved children, I can't help but feel inferior. Their spiffy new eco-cars probably need only positive thoughts for fuel and might even cleanse the atmosphere while driving. Meanwhile, I leave a noxious cloud anywhere I travel. The old Jeep I drive isn't much better either

Not to sound delusional, but apparently the other parents belong to a secret organization in cahoots with the teachers. This is obvious because of the types of activities for which I'm volunteered. Forget about Career Day, one of the choicest of assignments. You only have to speak for a couple of moments, and the teacher is right there in case you panic. Afterward you distribute purloined office supplies with your company's logo and then enjoy some punch and cookies. I've always felt that my work experience would be well received on Career Day, but maybe the kids wouldn't care about the intricacies of shovel selection when digging a ditch.

Paranoia aside, I have further proof of the conspiracy against me. While there are many functions to which I'm never invited, I can always count on chaperoning field trips. Sounds fun, huh? Sure, field trips are a blast - when you're a kid. My first trip as a chaperone was to escort a kindergarten class to the zoo. Forget sightseeing; I quickly realized I was there strictly to protect poor, defenseless beings from wild, unpredictable creatures. As tough as this assignment was, no animals were seriously harmed during our visit.

Occasionally the good parents will hog select field trips, such as the trip to the candy factory. Meanwhile, with no action on my part, my name somehow appears on the list to visit the sewer plant. Did you know you'll usually get a souvenir on a field trip? This is not always a good thing.

Sorry for all this talk of paranoia and whatnot. I think I'll gather up all my close, personal friends and go for a nice, calming ride in my Jeep. There are three seats left if anybody else wants to tag along.Dr. Vern

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