No, not the cute boy in your 6th grade math class. Not the sweet girl who rode the bus with you. I’m talking about your first car! Do you remember what it was? Of course you do. My father’s visiting right now and I just asked him. “1956 Ford Mainline Sedan. Four-door. My grandfather gave it to me. It was gray then and I had it painted dark blue.”
I then asked my husband. “A white 1972 Plymouth Duster,” he answered. “It had 150,000 miles when I got it. I drove it into the ground.”
Yes indeed, there’s a special place in our memory for that first pile of metal, that tank on wheels, that burst of precious freedom.
Was it the car or the fact that we were old enough to drive? Was it the independence we celebrated or the responsibility of being near-grown-ups what we took to heart? Whatever the case, I’d heard from a young age that it was good luck to name your car soon after acquiring it.
I never named my first car. It wasn’t really cool. It was a 1980 Chevy Caprice station wagon. It had wood panels. It was full of dog hair shed from three German Shepherds. With over 100,000 miles, it was the vehicle chosen for trips to the dump, to pick up the Christmas tree, and always, always, to transport the hounds to the vet.
So my station wagon was one of the lamest cars in the parking lot of my private school, where some of my classmates actually drove new Mercedes and BMWs each day. And no, they weren’t just borrowing these cars from their parents.
One day, however, that Chevy wagon saved my life. I made a new driver’s mistake and was hit in the driver’s door. Hard. Only the steel bar in the door kept me safe from being flattened by the oncoming vehicle. A few months later, my mother borrowed my car and was rammed in the same side by a garbage truck. She walked away without a scratch.
Many cars later, I’ve still never had a cool car. I’ve named them (Hailee, Darth Car, The Blue Marlin, Luna, Lynx), but I cannot pass a station wagon without noticing.
How about you? Tell us about your first love!