Monday, November 05, 2007

Car Wars

I’ve decided my next car will be a 1970’s era land yacht, with chromed bumpers front and rear, and a nice wide hood and rear deck, fore and aft of the cockpit.

The paint may not be in great shape, but that’s actually going to be a plus, because the reason my next personal automobile may likely take this form is because I am sick and tired of trying to keep a nice car looking nice, driving around in a city full of slugs who don’t care.

A fella in a pickup truck backed into the nose of The Silver Bullet this afternoon in a parking lot. We were lined up in the exit lane to pay our parking fee, and he decided he’d waited long enough, cranked it into reverse, and plowed right into me before I knew what hit me. Dude's trailer hitch did a grand job of converting my clear-plastic license plate cover into a shattered mosaic of Lucite, and the metal tag into a concave bug catcher. There are now two, distinct impressions of the backside of the license holder hardware, permanently embedded in what was virgin clear coat, paint and plastic.

I remember the first, brand-new car I ever owned came to a similar fate, shortly after I’d bought it. A bright yellow 1976 Honda Civic, barely six weeks old, reduced to so much crumpled tin by a snot-nosed teenager in his father’s “borrowed” ’68 Lincoln, plowing into the prow of my car in an intersection. Even then, subliminally, I knew, one day I would own such a monstrous piece of Detroit iron, purely for survival purposes.

When my firstborn was in High School, he figured out a way to pull out of a parking lot in front of a speeding, mid-80’s vintage Cadillac Fleetwood, while behind the wheel of a mid-80’s vintage Honda Wagon. Guess which vintage automobile won that encounter?

With a fatherly measure of punitive vengeance, I replaced that car with a 1972 Chevrolet Caprice Classic 4-door sedan, Banana-yellow, with white leather interior. Hey, it was a sharp car—bought from a man who’s mother had just passed, and it was her car, kept in the garage, just driven to church, etc., etc., yada yada yada.

My kid hated it.
I loved it.
It was big, highly visible, took up most of its lane, and compared to the smaller car, exponentially safer in most encounters with lesser vehicles. Plus, since the “Banana Boat,” as it became known, was considered not-cool, it was less likely to be driven for recreational purposes. That suited me just fine.

We didn’t keep the Chevy too long. My father traded-up, and we bought his cream-puff Toyota SR-5 Pickup truck, which lasted my son through the rest of high school, the 6-year degree plan at college, and beyond.

Tonight The Silver Bullet is sulking in its stall in the garage, the license plate holder a tortured mess, nose skin and ego slightly bruised. Ahead looms the obligatory insurance adjuster hustle and jive with a quote or two for repairs. Honestly, the biggest expense here is my time. Since my bride dropped a bicycle on the hood the first week I had the car, and some clod opened a car door into a front wheel opening, it’s no longer a virgin. I really just dread the hassle the worst.

Meanwhile, I’m on the lookout for a gently owned behemoth that I can drive into town without giving a second thought to where I park. And if someone should ding a door, bump a fender, or plow blindly backwards into the grille…so be it.
I am older and carry more insurance.

No comments: