he asked if i would stay awhile
and if i needed gas
i said no, thanks anyhow
i don’t drive too fast
— the prophet william gibbons
We were barely into our second cup of coffee before the title of the new car landed on the table. June signed, and I signed, and she handed me four keys to the car. Even I would be hard-pressed to lose four keys. It was mine. And that was that.
It’s great. Air bags, power steering, air-conditioning, a light on the ceiling that not only comes on when it should, but automatically turns off 30 seconds after you lock it. Five digits on the odometer. Real seats. Cruise control. Stereo. IT’S AN ACTUAL CAR!!!
Rick and I took it out for a test drive. We were the Smith Boys all over again. We headed for Sherwood Way and The Drag. We drove up and down like we had so many times during our formative years. We picked up exactly the same number of chicks as we had during high school, that being none. Smith Boys are shy.
It’s an automatic, so no thinking about shifting, and not the constant concern about which pedal I should be pushing down. Rick rolled the window down halfway on the passenger side. There’s nothing like cruising with the wind rushing through the car to make you feel alive. Except of course that it was freezing outside. Rick is annoying in that he dresses in enough layers as to not be constantly cold. I don’t get the whole long pants thing. Oh well.
We drove it to our daily hikes’ trailheads and our excursions around town. It felt odd after so many years to drive a car that didn’t rattle and wheeze and vibrate and make me wonder if THIS would be the time it wouldn’t start. And that rear-view mirror! I reveled in the odd sensation of not fearing impending death.
After a couple of days, Mo came back from her Artist Party in Corpus Christi, and we took her for a drive. The downside to this car is that it’s a two-door coupe with just the suggestion of a back seat. She jumped in head-first and rode with her legs sticking up. It looked comfortable enough.
We went out on the drag again. I counted this as picking up a chick at last, shattering our previous record by one. AND YES, SHE SLEPT WITH ME!!!! 16-year-old Gary would be so impressed. We went to the H-E-B at the end of the drag to buy coffee and cat food (45 years later, one’s priorities for the weekend change).
We drove home, pulled up to the curb, patted the little car on the hood, pulled Mo out by her feet and went inside. It’s a cool car.
The next morning as Mo and I prepared to head back to Arizona, we were barely into the second cup of coffee when I pulled out the title and gave it back to June. I returned the keys, or at least three of them. Did I mention I lose keys?
We waved goodbye to Rick and June and the red car. I just couldn’t do it.
We drove back 837 miles back to the little blue Honda that was waiting hopefully in the parking lot.
Sure, the car has a lot of problems, but so do I. I promised him we’d be friends till one of us died. And a promise is a promise. Besides, Scottsdale doesn’t have a drag. And I already have a chick. What’s the point of a new car? This one works just fine.
Goodbyes are hard. I’m not doing it till I must.