Living Retired — ‘COUNTING CARS’
Living Retired – ‘COUNTING CARS’
Have you ever scribbled out a list of all the cars you have bought in your lifetime? When I did this last week, I became more depressed than when our household was selected to complete the long version of this years Canada census form. One page became two pages. I shuddered thinking how much we have spent on cars. WOW!
My love affair with cars began in high school when I bought my first car: a used Vauxhall Viva. I had never driven a car with a manual transmission, so my Dad drove it home from the car lot. For the next week traffic lights were an adventure: every time the light turned green I would take my foot off the clutch and the car would violently jerk forward through the intersection.
One day driving down my parents street the gas pedal literally came off! All I had was a thin spoke sticking up from the floorboard – and I was wearing flipflops!
Each time I pulled my Viva in for gas I also topped up the oil, replaced the wiper blades, inflated the rear tires, replaced the right turn signal bulb, duct-taped the rear-view mirror back in place, kicked the tailpipe up underneath the car, jammed the bent radio antenna back into its hole, smacked the radio to get it going, fisted the fuel gauge to make sure it was working, AND held my breath while I attempted to start the car!
Jan still laughs about that car. “Gary, you sure drove a chick magnet didn’t you!”
There was also our Chrysler Valiant. “Jan do you remember that one? That was the 2-door green car with a pushbutton radio we purchased before we were married?”
“Gary, how could I forget that car? On the way home from the dealership, we stopped for take out. You made me roll the window down and hold our fish and chips outside until we got home. When we stopped at traffic lights people in the cars beside us looked over at me like I was nuts dangling a brown paper bag outside the window in the middle of February!”
“Jan, we paid a lot for that new car smell, and I wanted it to last. The fish and chips smelled greasy.”
Many years later we owned a sports car. It was a sleek Dodge Stealth in pearlescent white; a two-seater that sped like stink! Like all sports cars this one was slung low to the ground. You didn’t step into the car, instead you sort of slid down into it grabbing hold of the steering wheel as you stretched out.
Jan was quick to remind me that I eventually looked ‘uncool’ driving my midlife crisis car.
“Gary, your knees got so bad that to get yourself out of that car you had to twist your body towards the door, and then use your arms to lift each of your legs up and out.”
‘Yeah, but I looked cool when we were driving. That’s what matters.”
“And Jan, you think we looked cool all those years we drove mini-vans? We had at least three of them. You learned to swear like a soccer mom driving Tyler to his games.”
Speaking of swearing, Jan and I reminisced about our Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon we purchased. It had ‘wood trim’ on the door panels and a roof rack for our luggage. We thought it would be a great car for family road trips to Myrtle Beach.
One trip driving home on busy Interstate-95 near Washington DC the two suitcases on the roof rack suddenly blew off right in the middle of a busy interchange! Unfortunately, that was just the beginning!
One of those huge North American Van Line 18-wheel, cross-country long-haul moving trailers came barrelling down the highway – with our family luggage in its sites! BAM!!! It was like a perfect hit by a Stud ballistic missile. Everything exploded into smithereens! What a scene. Frilly underwear, dressy high heels, and Jan’s gold jewelry were strewn high and low – laying down in the grass in the median, dangling down from up in the tree branches! My SONY Walkman was as flat as my Chargex Credit Card.
Jan and I didn’t speak with each other until we reached the border. Just saying…