My first new car, purchased with savings from my first real job (working the night shift for minimum wage doesn’t count) and help from Dad, was a 1984 Pontiac Bonneville. Two-tone green. Racing stripe right down the middle of that baby. Faux wood grain dash. Cassette deck. I thought I was hot shit.
My sister, who had just graduated from college, bought her first new car right about the same time. Hers was a shiny red Dodge. She wanted four on the floor and air conditioning. I wanted an automatic and was unwilling to pay for air conditioning. Both vehicles had to be special ordered.
As my vehicle arrived first, I loaned my brand new car out to Sis on a few occasions so that she was not stuck at home all the time. Following one such occasion, I told her about a dream I had. In the dream, my sister walked in the door and handed me a curious looking item that I was unable to identify. “What’s this?” I asked. “Remember that car you used to have?” she asked. “This is what’s left of it.” And just before I woke up, I recognized two small lines that may once have been green racing stripes.
My sister, ever the good sport, was able to laugh about this. Truth is that she is an excellent driver and that I never had anything to worry about. Mean Green Bonny lived a good long life and finally gave up the ghost after three long years of ferrying me back and forth between law school in Massachusetts and home in New York.
But today, it is with sadness that I announce the demise of my current vehicle, a thirteen year old Mercury Grand Marquis. Once my parents’ car, it was passed on to us after having acquired more than 100,000 miles in the course of being driven across the country on several occasions. Just as many people as admired my wife’s Kia made fun of the Mercury. It looks like an old grandpa’s car. Hey, why are you driving a cop car?
But good old Whitey II served me faithfully for more than four years. With over 160,000 miles on the engine, it still could haul up the Grapevine with the air conditioning blasting. It survived three years in the desert, by which I mean three years of being parked on the street in the searing 120°F heat, being repeatedly dusted by blowing sand.
Yes, there was a Whitey I, my late vehicle’s predecessor. Another white Mercury, we parted ways when it was given over to be crushed and destroyed in the “cash for clunkers” program, which helped us to purchase the Kia.
As for Whitey II, we took good care of it, hoping it would last us a good long while. We had it serviced regularly – oil, tires, brakes, the works. Alas, all good things come to an end, the best laid plans of mice and men notwithstanding.
Shortly after I was laid off from my job at the end of September, we left the desert and moved in with family in rural northern California. My niece, who had just started community college, was struggling with bumming rides to class. She was able to buy an old hoopdie that had two strikes against it: It was on its last legs and my teenaged niece didn’t take care of it. Without a father to teach her the rudiments of automobile maintenance, what can you expect?
As I have been unemployed for quite a while now, we saw no reason not to lend Whitey II out to my niece so that she could get back and forth to classes. I’d rather not know all the gory details of how my poor Mercury met its demise, but I hear it has something to do with the car in front of it stopping while Whitey just kept right on going. Crunch!
You will be missed, Whitey. I am sorry that I didn’t take you through the car wash a little more often and that I took you for granted all those years of driving me back and forth to work every day.
Well done, faithful servant. Well done.