I donned my finest hawaiian shirt to go swap cars this week. I love that Old Paint felt the need to crawl into a handicapped parking spot for this photo. No tears were shed as I left my old girl there, me succumbing to the wiles of my fresh, young, painted lady. But later that evening when Remi facetiously asked if I was worried about leaving Soul Red alone in my garage overnight, I replied with amusement that I was more worried about Old Paint, left alone on the lot of the dealership, wondering “When is he coming back to get me? What did I do wrong?” Shit! That brought me to the verge of tears, I’m embarrassed (but not ashamed) to say! (I’m not really sentimental, but I am a sentimentalist.) Old Paint is not sentient – it (not she) is a bucket of inanimate matter. It (not she) does not feel. Still, I’m glad for the box of tissues I keep beside me. Ok, maybe the rum is nudging me.
Remi just finished writing 30 poems in 30 days for NaPoWriMo on her blog, and she is soliciting prompts for new poems – “Poems by Prescription” she calls them. So I’m calling out to her to write one titled “Good-Bye, Old Paint”. Here are a few facts, pertinent and im-, that might help. (You can listen to this if you need inspiration while reading the rest of this drivel.)
- I traded in my lemon of a 1988 Acura Legend Coupe (red, manual 6-speed) for Old Paint in December, 2000. Then Young Paint was a 1999 Mazda 626 ES with 23,000 miles and a color that nobody has ever been able to accurately describe. (I used to joke that it would be a perfect getaway car for a liquor store heist, as it looks so utterly generic. A few years later, Chevy used that exact story in this commercial. How’d they hear about my idea?!)
- I hated buying a mommy car like Old Paint. Dull, 4 doors, automatic transmission! “This isn’t who I am!” I said at the time. Now 13+ years later, I confess that Old Paint is hands-down the best car I’ve ever owned.
- In 2003, I drove Old Paint from St Louis to Canada’s Yukon to live for 5+ months. (That’s a whole other series of unwritten blog entries.) We made several side trips while there – even went about a hundred miles up the Dempster Highway. (That’s where a roaring-too-fast RV flipped a rock into Old Paint’s windshield. You can still see the ding in the photo above, a white spot on the passenger’s side, about 4 inches above the windshield wiper.) At the end of summer, we drove from Whitehorse across Canada to Ottawa, and I returned to St Louis, a round-trip of about 9000 miles. The only problem I had with Old Paint the entire trip was waking to a flat tire in our driveway the morning after returning from the Dempster.
- In 2011, Remi & I took a grand western tour in Old Paint – St Louis, Carlsbad Caverns, Grand Canyon, San Diego, West Hollywood, Berkeley, southern Utah, Colorado, Black Hills, Murdo, Hannibal, Morehouse. Not even a flat tire this time. Later the same year I drove to Phoenix, parked Old Paint at a friend of a friend’s house in the desert, and left it for a month to fly to Mexico.
- In 2012, Remi & I drove Old Paint up to St Paul to spend time with her sister. Back to Missouri, then on to Gulf Shores, Alabama, to New Orleans for a few days, then a wandering return through the Mississippi Delta back to Morehouse.
- Since last year though, little problems have been cropping up. Cracked fuel pump, overhead draping drooping, rubber door stripping coming off, hood release stuck, rear wheel thingy needing $500 work. Onandon. I just can’t count on the old girl any longer, especially for a road trip. And Remi & I are heading to St Paul, Des Moines, St Louis, and Huntsville this month. So sorry, Old Paint. Time to put you out to pasture, or wherever old cars go when it’s their time. (She had 144,546 miles on the odometer when I left her there.) (Oh, I moved her to a non-handicapped space after my sales guy snapped this photo. I don’t like seeing able-bodied folk taking up handicapped spaces, but I swear there were plenty of accessible spaces on the other side.)
- My new car is a 2014 Mazda CX-5. The color is called Soul Red, so that’s
her itsher name. I had to pay extra for that color.