I bought a new car last week. My old car was a convertible—my first and probably my last. The two of us had a great relationship. It was young, good-looking, and it had a great ass. The problem was I wanted more than it could give me. I hated myself, but I needed a sensible sedan with a back seat. It was an agonizing decision to make, but there was simply no choice. We had to part ways.
Breaking up is hard to do, but I’d been through it before. You grieve and then you move on. I told myself that the convertible wasn’t right for me. But when I unloaded all of my personal effects and waved goodbye, all I could think about was the exhilarating feeling the two of us had shared cruising down Pacific Coast Highway, my face tilted toward the sun and the vortex of warm Southern California air churning my hair.
In the days after the separation I was overcome by a debilitating ennui. This breakup wasn’t turning out to be as easy as I thought it would be. I needed counseling, so I unloaded all my emotional car baggage on a friend. She told me she was attached to the first “nice” car she ever owned. All the subsequent ones were just transportation. Just transportation? Could I truly be happy settling for only that? It made me wonder. How many cars had I loved before?
My first car was one of those generic Fords, painted in a shade of green not found in nature. It had a stick shift and got about ten miles per quart of oil. It was the sort of ride you parked six blocks from wherever you were going so none of your friends would even see you near it. Driving it was like making a choice between not going to the prom and going with pimply-faced Calvin Quinn.
My next car was a robin’s egg blue Corvair Monza with wire-wheel hubcaps. It had been around the block a few times, which gave it an aura of heat and danger. People told me the Corvair was bad for me. Even Ralph Nader sent me a letter, warning that gas emissions leaked through the heating system. He told me to dump the car or it would surely be the death of me. Big deal. So I had to leave the window open in the winter when the heater was on. I was young and impetuous. It was a small price to pay for true love.
Then there was the Toyota Celica, my first new car. I wanted so much to love it. It was a four-speed, sort of sensible and sort of sporty. Unfortunately, the car turned out to be a total lemon. I tried to make the liaison work, but I spent most of my time shifting from one heartbreak to another. On hindsight, I stayed in that relationship way too long.
After the Celica I went through a series of auto affairs. None of them lasted very long. The convertible was the first car in years that could light my fire. Maybe I’ll make it with this new one, too. So far we’ve been circling each other in that girl-meets-car mating dance. I’m not pushing any buttons, mostly because I still don't know where they are. Time will tell if we have a future together, but I’m starting to warm to the heady aroma of new leather and the sound of the throaty growl when I turn it on. Who knows? Some day soon we may be racing around curves on the Angeles Crest Highway and I’ll lean over and whisper the words, “I love you, baby.”
So what about you? What cars have you loved before?