My first car was a true exercise in character-building. She was a 1982 Buick Skylark, given to me by my parents when I was 17. I didn’t have a license, but I drove it anyways. When I turned 18, I drove it to my high school, and dropped out. I also accidentally hit Mr. Mole’s car in the parking lot, and had to pay him $100.
When I finally did get my license, I had been driving for some time, and I felt pretty comfortable. I didn’t realize the car was going to be inspected. She had a tendency to overheat. Somehow the fan and the headlights had been rigged together in a clusterf@ck of wires and nonsense. In order for the fan to work, I had to twist two wires together hanging by my feet. Anytime I was driving during the day people would make flashing light signs at me with their hands. When the instructor said, “Okay, turn your lights on,” I pretended to drop something while I twisted the wires together.
I peeked above the steering wheel.
“Okay, turn ‘em off.” The wires were already hot, but I pulled them apart. I was wishin’ and prayin’ she’d last the 15-minute road test without overheating. She did. I got my license.
I locked my keys inside constantly. Constantly. I don’t know how many times my friends and I stood around shaking our heads, waiting for a jimmy or a tow truck or a miracle. The lock worked back and forth, not up and down, so it was a real bitch to break into. Someone did break into it once (well, I left it unlocked); they went through my CD collection, and only took what they liked.
When the Pioneer speakers I had installed stopped working, I got a pink boom box that rode shotgun. A lot of Living Legends and System of a Down was played.
When the windshield wipers stopped working, I literally Ace Ventura’d it around town. I have a specific memory of exiting the freeway with my head out the window wondering how it all came to this.
It’s the only car I’ve ever really loved. And as much of a death trap as she sounds, she was a tank. We had some crazy times, and a lot of it was just us. Eventually the gas gauge quit, and then the speedometer. It was a slow, noble death. I got a new car, and we gave ol’ Blue to charity.
Sure, I could tell how fast I was going. It had the fancy *bleep bleep* key fob, and power windows, but it never had soul.