Today I did something different. I drove up to Chico, CA and I visited Bugville.
My friend has wanted a VW bug for a long time, and she found the right car online. It is a bright red 1972 SuperBeetle with all-new brakes, transmission, and a mostly pristine exterior. It was waiting for her at an outfit up here in Chico that specializes in “Air Cooled Rides:” Late Night Air Cooled. We spent a chunk of the afternoon discovering a whole subculture of folks who love those little rides. Do not call them “cars.” They are not “cars.” They are “bugs” or “vans” or “air cooled rides.” They are wonders of engineering, pieces of art. They are air-cooled rides.
The proprietor spent a long time with her, teaching her the fine points of caring for her bug. He did it before he accepted her cash. I have a feeling that had she not been appreciative of the wonders of Bugville, he’d have politely, kindly, sent us away bugless. She passed muster, and now the SuperBeetle is hers. She’s still thinking about its name.
Why am I babbling about this in a Jewish context? Because today I was like the person who visits a synagogue for the very first time. There was terminology (NOT “cars!” NEVER “cars!”) Lots of talk about “air-cooled” and “carburetors” and “rpms” and shifting and kinds of oil and gasoline and goodness knows what else. I was clueless. I just smiled a lot. Once I looked into an engine and thought, wow, yeah, engine. Air-cooled, yeah.
I remember that’s exactly how I felt on my first trip to a synagogue: lost. It was good for me to feel that feeling again, to remember how it feels to be a complete beginner in a culture with its own language and codes and jargon.
If you are a newcomer to Bugville, or to synagogue, it’s OK to be new. The owner of All Night Air Cooled was glad we were there, glad to tell us all about the wonders of his world. It was OK that we didn’t know the jargon yet, that we weren’t sure where to sit. It felt weird, because no one likes to feel so completely out of it. But if you hang in there a while, you’ll begin to pick up the lingo. (See what I learned, in just an afternoon? Air-cooled! Super Beetle! Yay!) You’ll develop your own tastes. You’ll make friends, you’ll become attached, and before long, you know, you’ll be one of the regulars gazing into the engine, nodding knowingly. The next newcomer will see you and think, gee, she knows this stuff. She belongs.
2 thoughts on “A Visit to Bugville”
You made a VERY good point here, Rabbi.
I really enjoyed this blog post even more than usual, because my mom used to only buy “air -cooled” cars. 😉 The color of the above Bug is not just red but “Kasan Red,” which I only know because my mom had a 411 hatchback in that color. LOL!
Congratulations to your friend upon the purchase of her Super Beetle — may she drive it in good health for MANY years to come!
Thanks, cardinalrobbins! I passed the info about “Kasan Red” along to the new Bug owner, who was thrilled. She is a painter, and she’s all about precision with colors. You gave a gift with that comment.
Thanks for reading, too!