The girl in the picture is not me. I don’t smoke and I’m not cool enough to ride around in a dented, green mini cooper while I casually exude indie-rock ambivalence in a European alley somewhere. But still, I think it does a solid job in connecting Car to the Girl and thus, it will remain.
Got a text from Vic last night that The Geo was in an accident, that it doesn’t look good. And though she’d already sold the tidy green car that carried her (and me and a bunch of other lucky bastards) through college, across the country and three years in sunny Los Angeles, it still hurt like a mother.
The thing about old cars is that you either get it or you don’t. You either get that hearing that it’s barely running, that it’s held together with duct tape, and feel a pang of pain, of loss or you look at me and shake your head. “It’s just a car.” Except no, it’s not. And maybe you should just leave now.
My life changed in that car. It literally picked me up from my parents’ house on Long Island and carried me to my new life in LA (and from New York to Texas, it did it with a six inch long nail stuck in one of its tires). It was in that car, in DC, that Vic told me she’d move to LA too. We sat in that car, dying in the heat, windows wide open when Vic spotted George Michael in the convertible next to us on the 405 and immediately changed lanes to follow him into the Valley. We lost him, shifty little devil, but that’s hardly the point. Bruce Willis, Will Smith, Hailey from Dr. 90210, all spotted from that car. Whiskey, wine and endless cans of Diet Coke. The license plate dangling from a coat hanger (MacGyver’s got nothing on Vic when she wants to avoid going to the mechanic). The nice tow truck drivers we’d meet when the battery died, one time at the supermarket parking lot around the corner from our apartment, the other time in Orange County in the rain. Whenever I walked out of LAX, that car idling by the sidewalk meant I was home. It was magic, its mileage was a sheer miracle- it could stay at a 1/4 of a tank for days on end, the Hannukah of cars for two broke girls. I remember once, as a birthday surprise for Vic, filling up the tank all the way and the car sputtered with shock when it started. It didn’t need much to get us where we needed to go.
There’s a lot of talk about what to do with it now. The new owner wants to donate it- it still runs but it won’t be of much use to an LA driver who practically lives in their car and kind of depends on it to run. I told Vic she should keep it in her driveway, just let it sit there. Her natural concern is that she already has a cat and a bunch of junk on her front lawn and a dead car in the drive might be just a little too white trash for her tranny neighbors in West Hollywood. And even though I know she’s right, I can’t help thinking that the car has earned it. It should just stay there, retired and idling, shaded by trees and covered in Christmas lights, for the rest of its, and our, days.