Wednesday, December 9, 2009

eulogy for the chevy caprice.

Yesterday, my mom sold my car for two cases of beer.

Granted, it hasn't been used for over a year and needs some serious work, but me and that car have gone through a lot together. And I didn't get to say goodbye.

The car came to us from my grandparents, with the slight whiff of my grandmother's perfume that was soon replaced by the smell of slightly stinky kid, as my mom used it to drive to school. About a year later, it was stolen from the church parking lot across from my parent's school. In broad daylight. Full of kid's things, paperwork, and a stroller. Frustration and sadness and all sorts of things ensued, with my mom finally waiting out til the insurance money would come in and we could finally get another car. Unfortunately, the Chevy returned from it's sojurn as a participant in a gun-running operation literally two hours before the insurance deadline, and we took back into our hands a poor abused empty vehicle.

It stayed in our family as a workhouse, and ended up being my very first car, and I felt so nervous applying for my parking permit in the RAHS Activity Office (GOBBLE GOBBLE! oh lordy). I was only a sophomore - could I really end up with a permit, even for the rest of the year?? I mean, bumming rides to speech meets on Saturday mornings at 5:45 am had worked for awhile, and the bus is okay, I guess, but my own car? Really?

But it worked out...and I spent the next two years driving my brother and assorted neighbors to and from school. We had it completely optimized...chill in classes after the school day ended at 2:45, mosey on to our lockers (B52 Love Shack!), chat with teachers, hassle K "Ole" Paulsen - by the time we left school at 3:05, the parking lot would be bare, the traffic jam on B2 would be gone, and we'd be free and clear for a quick ride home. It was made even better by the illustrious Kemps bucket in the front seat on the floor (my Chevy had a bench seat in the front). We'd buy an obscene amount of candy the day after Halloween, and the car would be stocked til Christmas, the Reeses made even better (and oddly shaped) by the cooling and freezing cycles so common in Minnesota. The trunk would be stuffed full of more bags of candy, keeping us warm...especially because the heat didn't really work. Having the windows down did help, though. I'd first throw my keys to Eric, and he'd open the passenger side and crawl over to open the driver's side door from inside (the handle was broken). I would start the car, and then I would yell at Eric for not wearing gloves or a jacket (he was a pep band sweatshirt and dad's old ski hats kind of guy) as he cleared snow off the car with his sweatshirt rolled over the brush and scraper. He was a machine, and before long, we were rolling.

Then, the car made its way to Illinois for undergrad, complete with a new stereo, a graduation gift from a friend. It stayed the lot next to Presser. That is, until someone decided to throw a rock into the back window and steal my stereo, leaving me bereft of not only tunes, but also a working heater (again with the no heat. Irony indeed for someone who wears two layers of long underwear everyday during the winter and spent high school wearing wool pleated skirts over jeans over tights).

Thus began the trail of money leaving my bank account and heading straight into a new carburetor, a new heater connection salvaged from the bone yard, a new window, etc, etc. We're talking around $4K. Phew.

Oh--and then there was the time that someone who shall remain nameless (cough) decided to not look behind her while she was backing up in the Presser parking lot and ended up T-boning my car, me pounding on the horn just in time so she didn't really do any damage, thank goodness. Although, I think Kathleen lost one of her nine lives that day. Yikes.

Eric actually came down one May, and when we were heading out for groceries, suddenly...the brakes didn't work. We panicked...we're talking screaming profanities that would make a sailor blush, here, and sweat dripping down my back from a combination of fear and the heat of an early Illinois summer. We drove into the Meijer parking lot and drove the car without pressing the accelerator until it eventually slowed to a stop and we could put it in park. We called my dad frantically, and he told us to check the brake fluid. Being an expert in bleeding breaks (I always got to be in the car pressing the brake pedal with both feet to help my dad eliminate air from the brake fluid compartment, something you have to do whenever you add brake fluid). was about half full. =Not good. So, we walked to a nearby gas station, bought some brake fluid, and added half the bottle...and promptly noticed a stream of liquid spurting underneath the engine. "Aww, sheeeeeeet." Dad made the observation that we had to get to a car repair shop, and preferably the one that had done work on my car before (he likes it old school, and these guys definitely were). Thankfully, we were right off of Veterans, so we started up my baby, and prayed for dear life with our hazards on for the longest four miles I've ever driven. We made it safely, and walked the three miles back to school on a day hot as balls, drinking our extra-jumbo blue raspberry icees from 7-11. It survived the eight hour drive home three days later, only to die in our driveway two days later, where it has sat since then, in various states of use, reminding me of wonderful memories past. honor of my 1989 Caprice, and to all those that spent time in those gray seats the car with the license plate "PHF" that my cousin nicknamed "Pretty Hot Female" -- you will be missed.

1 comment:

Sprite said...

bye-bye, car! such memories!