A short story dedicated to my car
I can totally see how an automobile is a status symbol for most people. It shows what you can afford, looks nice, makes it easier to pick up women, makes you feel cool and accomplished driving around for everyone to see you in.
I have owned five cars in my twelve years of driving. None of them were ever new or sporty. I have always had the hand me downs or used cars. I guess this has given me a completely different outlook on the cars I have owned.
Before I go into the outlook on my car, let me share the experience first…
I got my 96 black Nissan Maxima at the age of 21. She was the first car I have ever bought with my own money. Because of her black color and already beat up and old looking body I properly named her “Black Bettie”. Her main purpose was to get me to and from my then job as a server/ bartender. But being 21 I hardly gave a shit about using her as a ride to work. I was young, and old enough to get into bars now. With Black Bettie, the road and the night were open.
The experiences and adventures we went on together are too many to count.
I bought her right as I was starting a new relationship with my girlfriend at the time Kim. The first time I was able to pick up my girlfriend at her house, and drive her out to dinner was such a great feeling. Just driving around with the windows down, holding hands and gossiping about whatever came to mind is a memory that will never go away. I also remember her braking up with me in that car when I got my 1st radio job inKentucky.
Black Bettie took me back and fourth from St. Louisto PaducahKentuckyI don’t know how many times. I remember taking her down there for the 1st time to go to the job interview with Electric 969. We went on more camping trips than I can count. I had to sleep in her for at least two of them. That car has been to more music festivals than most of our parents. At some music festivals when it was too hot outside, she would let my friends and I cool down with her AC.
There have been so many moments of laughter with my best friends riding in her. Also the worst moments where I was so overwhelmed with life that I just need to get in her and start driving somewhere. She has seen the best and worst of my life.
Back in September, when I was driving home from working on the point. A drunk driver decided to try and end his life behind the wheel.
Aiming for Bettie and me he hit the gas. But missed us by less than a foot, instead flying his car of the road and ejecting him out the windshield (he lived). I LITERALLY escaped death by one foot in that car.
In the seven years that I have owned Bettie we have journeyed close to 200,000 miles together. I have gotten mad at her, had to spend lots of money on her, curst her, hit her,
kicked her, starved her, cried in her, bled in her, puked out of her, burned her with cigarettes, gotten lucky in her back seats, laughed in her, almost died in her, gotten a few speeding tickets with her, had her searched by the cops a few times only to find nothing but a shit eating grin on my face, music festivals, camping, family trips, vacations, road trips, visits to Mizzou, fishing trips, joy rides, insightful trips. She has even killed two dogs and maybe hundreds of small adorable furry animals. I have seen the sun go up and down more in that car than anywhere else.
Bettie was getting old. Her engine light had been on for months, her shocks were worn, and also the ignition was not working well. After getting her looked at, it would cost more to repair her than to fix her. I found a great deal on pretty much the same model of car and made the purchase.
The day I drove Bettie to Seeger Toyota all of the memories I had forgotten we shared came rushing through my head. I had never been so happy that I was hitting every red light on my way there. It would give me just a few more minutes to spend with her. Her gas light popped on and even though I was headed to the dealer, I stopped at a station to fill her up with just enough gas to get me there. I wanted the feeling like we were traveling somewhere together one last time. As I continued driving I rubbed her dashboard telling her thank you for giving me so many years of love and open roads. I saw her odometer read just 20 miles short of 200,000. I really thought about taking her around just to hit that mileage together. This was the best car I have ever owned, and I did not want to part with it.
When I got to the dealer, I didn’t want to leave her side. As I was signing the paperwork I could not stop staring at her out the window. Even when they pulled my newer, nicer ride up, I did not want to take my eyes off Bettie, because I knew this was the last time. I walked up and kissed her hood, and patted her goodbye. Got in my new car and drove away, watching her through the rear view mirror. The only emotion I can compare what I was feeling to was being broken up with. Not wanting to leave everything you have been through together, but knowing at the same time that you will both not make it much further.
That’s when I realized the outlook I said I wanted to share with you.
A car is not a status symbol to me. This car was my partner! Someone who journeyed with me over seven years and hundreds of thousands of miles. It was an object. It had no soul, no real emotions, or personality. But I loved it as much as any person. The road was the horizon, and she was my spaceship to carry me off. That 1996 Nissan maxim deserves its space in my heart as much as any old love. She was the best car I have ever owned. I will never forget her. She was my minimum falcon.
“She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts”