I've never been what you would call a car buff. I know that my first car was a 1972 Malibu and I know that only because it rhymes. My second car was gold. I can't tell you much about after that except that for the most part they were non-descript and a majority of them were made by Toyota.
When I turned 40, I decided I would never be able to afford a mid-life crisis car so I got a mid-life crisis bike -- red, with a basket, and only 7 gears.
A couple of years ago (well... 2 in September) I thought, "Why can't I get a car that has no apparent purpose other than fun? Why can't I have my mid-life crisis car?" So lacking a good argument from myself (because single women don't really have to check with that many people ... although my church did tell me to do it but that's another story), I bought a red, 2006 VW convertible.
Why bring this up now?
Because on the fourth of July, my car starred in a parade. We checkerboarded it with magnets proclaiming my candidate's name, tied a couple of yard signs to each door, and placed my candidate on the back to wave and throw candy to the crowd.
I was as proud as a soccer mom watching her 7 year old kick a goalie.
Even bent and slightly bruised that car made me proud. 'Course she already took me cross country last year, so I have memories stored in every nook and side pocket. But cleaned up and processing in all her redness among the red, white, and blue waving and wearing crowd, she was a thing of beauty.
She's bruised because recently I backed into a woman's SUV -- a parked SUV, I might add! One slight flaw in the car is that there's a blind spot. One slight flaw in me is that on occasion, I'm blind.
When I got out to check the damage, I had scraped the SUV bumper badly and was wondering how I was going to find the owner. She then came walking out of a nearby restaurant and acknowledged who she was and noted she'd heard the bang.
I apologized profusely. She said, "Let's just take a look." And then told me the long scrape wasn't from me (which I should have known because, let's see, I'm in a VW!). Then she said, "I don't know that I'll even report it. I have to get that fixed anyway." But she took my information and I apologized a couple more times and then she helped me check out my car.
We discovered it had a cracked tailight and some scrapes. All in all, no big damage.
I was amazed at how nice she was being. She wanted to make sure my lights worked. So I said I was sorry yet again. That's when she said, "Hey, they're just cars."
At that moment, I knew if I had to hit someone that day I picked the right woman. I also knew then that she was correct, they are simply cars.
But after this weekend, I'm ready to have that theory challenged. That car is more than a thing. Some days it's a symbol. Some days it's my statement of independence. Some days it's the talked about entry in the Independence Day Parade. Every day it saves me money on gas.
Sure it squeeks and has two dings in the enormous front windshield. Sure it now has a scarred bumper and is in need of a repair or two.
But like the athlete that shines continually week after week only because someone is taking care of pulled muscles and strained backs and paying attention to his/her every need, that car is also a winner.
And while my next car is probably going to be non-descript and probably practical and probably made by Toyota, I will never forget my red VW convertible circa 2006.