A Tale of a Girl and Her First Car

22 Apr

My little sister is driving. If that doesn’t make me feel old, than I don’t know what else does (except, oh, everything else about my current life).

Um. Clearly not old enough. And who's the goofy looking one on the left?

All this talk of growing old has led me to some reminiscing, about the olden days of ‘when I was her age’ (a very long four years ago). I received a car when I was 16, only because a coworker of my father’s happened to be selling one for super cheap. Friends, allow me to introduce you to Gertrude.

Everyone has an unreasonable, human-like adoration for their first vehicle, right? It’s safe to say she may have been my first love (this was before I was aware that the best was yet to come, as far as love goes). With her 90s-tastic outer shell, plush red seats, automatic windows, and cassette player, Gertrude was a sight to behold, way ahead of her time in an age of luxury vehicles.

...and boy was I snazzy driving it.

Gertrude saw me through the summer before, and through, senior year. Sunny days called for rolling the windows down (no AC, babyyy), popping in an 80s cassette scored from Goodwill, and letting the wind whip through my hair. Life was good.

However, towards the end of the school year, I started to notice that Gertrude just wasn’t acting herself. She had gone through numerous procedures to get her back into driveable (and inspection-passing) status, and I began to realize that they were starting to take a toll on her health.

After a snowstorm, I began to drive down the street with some snow still on the hood. As I turned on the heat, snow began spewing through the air vents into the car. Not a good sign.

One day, I was driving home from a movie, and noticed as I pulled out of the parking lot that steering all of a sudden took a little extra muscle than I had remembered. By the time I turned into my neighborhood, making a turn required the force of my entire body to turn the steering wheel the right way. Also not a good sign.

When I left the parking garage after shopping downtown, putting on the breaks as I skidded down the cement ramps made an awful, echoing, screeching noise, not unlike the screeching sound played in the Psycho shower scene.

I denied that slowly, Gertrude was slipping away.

I remember getting the call one day when Mom told me that, after her final visit to the shop, that Gertrude’s time was up. She’d be returning home to get taken away to the junk yard where firefighters would practice using the jaws of life on her. I found peace in the fact that she would be used for a noble cause (like an organ donor!) but it didn’t make saying goodbye any easier.

Cleanin' her out.

I decided that, against my parents cautions, I was going to take her out for one last spin. Some friends and I hopped in one summer night, and drove downtown. Stopped at a red light, someone in the car pointed out: “Is that steam coming from your hood?”

Yes, it was time.

Gertrude sat idle in the driveway for a few weeks, counting down the days until she would be taken away. The last time I saw her was the summer morning I woke up to the sound of a tow truck out front. I sat up in bed, and peeped out the blinds, only to see her hitched up to the truck, making its way down the street. I swear I heard her singing….

Weeeeeee’ll meet againnnnnnn, don’t know whereeeeee, don’t know whennnnnnnnnn…………”

Then, I think I went inside and played some sad spirituals on the saxophone.

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One Response to “A Tale of a Girl and Her First Car”

  1. OldMainnish April 23, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?
    –Jack Kerouac

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