WHOO-WEE, NOW THAT’S A CAR
Listen up, now boys’n’girls, I have a tale to tell. It is the beginning, middle & one of the truest endings of the American Dream. And it’s all about a car.
I never, in my most crazy-assed dreams, thought I could feel this way about a vehicle. Cars belong to the practical means of achieving an end: getting from one place to another. Basic, yeh? Other than earnestly desiring a plum Challenger in my earliest married years, I cannot recall paying much attention to the auto industry.
I’ve had any number of cars & all have been memorable. From the second-year Honda hatchback from the days when they came only in gray & maroon & the guy I asked to check the oil opened the hood said, “Hey! This engine’s sideways!” I have not attempted to stay afloat in the sea of car fashion. I’m a firm contestant in the dog-paddle Olympics of Intramural Car Ownership. So, you get it, right? Economy, fun-drive, limited but sporty, serviceable…a landau roof being the big splurge on decorative touches.
But my Chevy Volt is in the shop. And it needs special handling. I think there’s about maybe three techs in NM certified in Volt repair. Something about the battery containing the energetic potential pulse of a nuclear reactor & the battery light is what came on. They need someone gloved, aproned, safety-spectacled, etc. The Volt tech at Bravo Chevy in Las Cruces must be in big demand. I’ll lay odds he wears a cape to work & his button-up blues have a big, red, triangular ‘S’ on the back.
Well, while I miss my li’l Sparkle Plenty, topaz blue, four-stroke, low-to-the-ground baby, I have achieved the playoffs of driving here. First, they loaned me a new Malibu. It was so silver-grey, it disappeared in full daylight. At night, it was a gleam with red lights in the rear. The doors opened so widely my short arms wouldn’t reach, I had to undo the seatbelt, lean out, grab the door & apply some bicep to close it. (You may scoff at this, but my passenger had to do the same thing.) I tell you Truth. The Malibu had a lot of class, some great features, one of which being a back-up camera I couldn’t decipher ‘cause the lines made it look to me like checking the end zone for a touchdown run…backwards. Good car, but of limited comfort for staid little ole me.
The guy at the agency hadn’t pointed out the 500-mile limit on the contract. So, when I called a week later to check status on my car, he asked if I was close to that. I ran outside to check, and yes, I was within 71 miles. (The agency is 83.3 miles door-to-door from my home, & I wasn’t at home.)
He said, “BRING IT BACK! We’ll get you into another loaner!” Now, to me, there’s something eco-unfriendly about driving 83.3 miles on a mileage allowance I’ve already inadvertently exceeded, to get into another car where I get a second shot at 500 miles. Don’t they have a fax machine? In New Mexico, everything of any high brand name quality (Natural Grocers, anything other than “Wonder” or “Ferdinand” as movie of the week, Staples, Lowes – you get the picture) is 70 miles one way. It’s not like I wasted the miles I was given. But there was that one joyride with my girlfriend when we went to Las Cruces as she needed a jeweler other than Walmart to assess a collector’s item. In my defense, I didn’t know about that 500-mile clause then.
Yesterday, I picked up my favorite passenger & headed for the stadium lights. Car sales is as much of a sports contest as any NFL game, so the wattage seems appropriate. It was late in the day when we left. We planned a dinner out of town & a stop at aforesaid Natural Grocers.
My service rep, with whom I am developing quite the relationship, cheerfully calls me “Miss Borsello,” causing me to look over my shoulder for someone else – I’ve been “Yo! Carol!” for a long time now.) Anyway, he put me into a brand-new, nipple-hardening bright white, 8-cylinder Impala. We’re talking top of the line here. I felt my canines growing immediately upon adjusting the seat so I could see out the windshield & over the steering wheel. Then it got more serious as my right foot developed a lead coating & I think a penis started to sprout somewhere down below. (Sorry for the sex analogies, but I am talking such a sensuous experience with driving this car, it was one of huge proportion for my Life Without Hormones since the 80’s (when I went through menopause three times while withdrawing from HRT.)
I do believe any American between sixteen & eighteen years of age will tell you the same, with perhaps more forceful language. There is utterly nothing in my life that got to me like driving this car at this time & I’ve been married thrice. My friend said, “Carol, I think we passed the turn for that Italian restaurant two streets back – you need to get into the left lane.” I was in the third lane over at the time from left-most. I smiled, said, “No prob!” And goosed my new “John White” on the green light…we made the next left. Lead can be worth more than gold sometimes, yeh?
Coming home, the Sirius radio offered us some, like, polka from Japan, so we listened to comedy. I’m annoyingly picky about music. I hate Steely Dan, can’t tolerate Frank Sinatra, & set fire to EZ listening CDs for kicks. We listened to comedy which we carefully turned down while going through the Border Checkpoint 20 miles out of town, lest we unintentionally smile.
But after I dropped my friend off at the meet-up parking lot & checked out the stations, I found Pink Floyd. I was GONE. I felt like I was in my personal jet en route to some island. I turned it up beyond ear-splitting (OMG! Actual volume without winding it up to a max 32!) I pinned the volume button, applied my right foot & passed my friend who was already tooling down the highway before I began my research. I think her car spun around a couple of times. A languid wave of a lifted hand, a murmured “Hey” & was at the exit for town in a blink. Going 40 after getting off I-25 allowed me to find a few more stations. By the time I pulled up in front of my apartment, I sealed the windows, closed my eyes, tried unsuccessfully for even more volume & blissed out on “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys” as the car & I vibrated happily together.
This morning when I woke, I thought to walk to our regular Wednesday Coffee Klatsch at B’s house. Then I went outside. My salivary glands overflowed, my canines extended over my bottom lip, my hand involuntarily flickered over the remote fob. Devoid of conscious volition, I pushed the ‘unlock’ button. John White responded with a flirtatious flicker of the lights & walking was suddenly stupid. Who needs exercise?
We coasted down the hill. What a shame B only lives 1.5 miles away. I was ready to take a serious bite out of that 500. Parking demurely, still humming “Locomotive Breath,” I stroked his flank as I left the car, went inside, had my coffee, chatted up friends on topical stuff & left. All RIGHT! Let’s go to the library (sadly, even closer than 1.5.) I forgot my library bag, & when I realized I hadn’t returned my movies, I immediately drove home, turned around & took them back. Don’t want to be late on returning them, right? I only had 13 more days until due, after all.
I love my apartment. I love my little car. I love my life. I just have this fantastic Grand Opportunity at the Publisher’s Clearinghouse of cars in my immediate future. Who am I to argue such a present? I don’t know about looking a gift horse in the mouth, but, baby, I ain’t even opening the hood on this one!