Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Car Pool

The Car Pool

By Allison Adams 09-04-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 09-05-11

For many years we have owned a fleet of five vehicles. (Believe me, I’m not bragging – I’m complaining.)

The cars in our fleet are perpetually rotated among the licensed drivers in our family with some regard to the family hierarchy.

The car that has been in commission the longest and has been circulated the most is our old, beloved, Buick Rega (the “L” fell off in March of 2009).

Beginning with my husband, who bought the Buick new in 1998, we’ve all had a turn behind her wheel.

She’s been the ritual “first” car for each of our children as they earned their license and also our blessing to independently operate a weapon-on-wheels.

Each of us have “demoed” and thoroughly test driven it for the next driver in-line.

Each of us has put our mark on her.

Some of us have put more marks on her than others. Ahem.

In addition to relying on her as the primary mode of transportation the designated Buick driver has also used her as an extension of their purse or backpack, their filing cabinet, closet, school locker, gym bag, lunchbox, sporting goods store, and of course, a garbage can.

One of us thought it would be a perfectly okay to leave a partially eaten quiche (remnants of a French class project) in the trunk … for about 6 weeks. Long after it was discovered and carefully extracted the pungent waft of that French project continued to smack you upside the head if the Buick was left in the hot sun for any length of time.

Our son was our last-to-be-licensed and had waited forever, it seemed, for his turn as the primary driver of the Buick. The day we passed him the Buick key to hang on his lanyard he didn’t just take her to drive – no, sir.

He staked a claim on her.

He set out to make her special.

He applied a series of very realistic-looking bullet hole stickers along the driver’s side of the car.

He installed a CB radio inside the car and wired it to a loudspeaker tucked in the hood so he could drive around town and “holla atcha brutha”, etc.

When duct tape no longer served to mend the shredded Corinthian leather seats, he spent his hard-earned money for some stylin’ seat covers.

He stopped short of hanging a pair of fuzzy dice from the rearview mirror, but last December he purchased an artificial Christmas wreath with a plastic red bow and attached it to the Buick’s grill.

It was shortly thereafter that we noticed that the small, slimy, puddle of black goop on the garage floor where the Buick parked had grown to the size of a swimming pool.

And we began noticing a few other things about her, too – bad things.

Sad things.

This past January my husband and I secretly nicknamed the Buick – “Please-Hang-On-Until-September”. We knew better than to think the she would be able to carry our son to college at the end of the summer, but we really needed her to stay in commission to keep him mobile until then.

In August, just three weeks before our son was to leave for college, he drove the Buick to the gas station, and filled her up with unleaded.

She died instantly right there at the pump. She could not be resuscitated.

Before she was towed away my son filled 2 garbage bags with personal affects from inside the car. He disconnected the CB and the loudspeaker, and ceremoniously detached the now-faded Christmas wreath from her grill.

A week later we held a proper memorial service, which was well attended.

The Christmas wreath and a framed photo of the Buick taken as she boarded the tow truck for her last ride hang prominently in our garage, near the slimy pool of black goop, which has begun to form a light crust.

And as I write this I am fighting back tears … because I just realized she was laid to rest with $35 of perfectly good gasoline in her tank.

R.I.P. Buick Rega.

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