Friday, September 19, 2008

Betsy's gone...

My first car was an '88 Buick Riviera. She had a huge engine, leather seats and a touch screen computer that controlled the radio and other things. Did I mention she was the Silver Anniversary edition? She had all kinds of bell and whistles. The front seats were reversible. They could go from leather to velour and back again.

(I was going to post a picture of the car, but I couldn't find one. I know one exists; it is just not revealing itself to me.)

The touch screen was the coolest part. It controlled the radio, heater and AC. It also had a diagnostic program. When she needed oil, she told you. When you left a door ajar, she told you. When there was anything wrong, she told you. She also told you things like RPMs. One of the coolest things was she had a speed alert. You could set it at a certain speed. If you went over that speed, she would tell you to slow down.

I bought her with a Pell grant. I used to get lots of money from the government to go to school. I only paid $2000 for her, but she was worth every penny. She was a great car. She was a beautiful deep maroon. I washed her almost everyday for the first month I owned her. I actually owned her before I started driving. Thinking about it, I realize she taught me how to drive.

When we moved south of town, my dad's car didn't make it with us. He started driving Betsy. (Did I mention the car's name was Betsy? Yes, I name things. Can't help it. Especially costly items like cars and guitars.) My dad is really hard on cars. In the 27 years I have been alive, I can think of at least 5 cars he has driven into the ground. Sadly, Betsy is one of these casualties.

After my dad started driving her, she developed a leak in her radiator. Instead of having her fixed, my dad just poured some gunk it her that was supposed to fix the leak. It didn't so he put more. Still didn't work. Never did. The finally straw was when he wrecked her.

My beautiful Betsy was no longer the beauty she had once been. Her paint was faded and peeling. The front passenger side fender was smashed in. Her hood was whopper-jawed and didn't shut all the way. Her leather was cracked and worn. Her windshield was cracked. She left ugly green puddles everywhere she parked.

Instead of giving her a proper retirement, I parked her in front of my parents' house and there she sat for over 4 years. Her tires went flat and her battery died. What had been left of her former glory was sapped by the sun and the weather. She sat there as a silent reminder of a part of my youth. She had become nothing more than a home for the little cotton tails on my parents' land. I moved on to a younger, better car and forgot all about Betsy.

Yesterday, my mom called me. She wanted to know if there was anything in Betsy I needed to get out. I told her to just check the glove box and the console. Her cousin was coming to haul her and my sister's old Mercury Cougar (which my dad also killed) away. He is a mechanic of sorts and also does welding. I agree with this decision. He will make her useful again. Even if it is just as parts for something else.

After Mom called me to tell me the deed had been done, it dawned on me that Betsy was gone. Next time, I go out to my parents' house, she will not be there to greet me with her bent antenna. She won't be there to remind me of the good times I had with that car. I mentioned to Mom how it kind of felt like a dear friend had died. She was outside at the time. After a slight pause she said, "It looks like two graves have taken the place of the cars." As silly as it may sound, I am actually tearing up thinking about that inanimate 2 ton lawn ornament.

I love the car I am drving now, but nothing will ever take the place of Betsy. She was the coolest car ever. She was my first car. I will miss her. She taught me independence. She taught me how to share. She taught me how to care for my things. She taught me never to forget those I care for. She will always be remembered. Farewell, Betsy.

1 comment:

Travis Erwin said...

You have fonder memories of your first car than I do. Mine was truly a hooptie.