Good-Bye, Old Paint


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 its her name. I had to pay extra for that color.
Anyone else want to write a eulogy? Feel free. Well, as long as you title it “Good-Bye, Old Paint”.

Here is what my earlier Acura Legend Coupe looked like:
(Update 08-14-2014: I just realized this is a suitable response to a Daily Prompt.)

7 thoughts on “Good-Bye, Old Paint

      • We will try to repress our desires, but you know how irrepressible we are. All in the interest of making sure you didn’t get a lemon we might have to get one little Rockette kick in. Should be interesting with Tony’s foot. Not sure if the neighbors could handle petting, patting and caressing in front of God and everyone in our driveway. We are in the Bible belt you know.


  1. Goodbye Old Paint

    What have you eaten that we have forgotten?
    What lost earring resides
    in the deepest recesses of your front seat?
    What coins shaken and pushed into your crevasses?
    And do you remember the song made up on the spot
    and sung just once, then left forgotten in Nevada?
    Do you still carry the dust of Tonopah
    or that yearning to actually see something extraterrestrial
    on the Extraterrestrial Highway?
    Do you carry shards of his boredom while driving
    mile after mile of Utah beauty?
    Do you still carry her expectations
    of sharing the giant faces of Rushmore
    and echoes of the fact that he expected more?

    What of molecules of the Mississippi crossing
    or dreams of the memories of Hannibal?
    What sweat from those Mississippi hours
    waiting outside the B.B. King Museum?

    Salt grains and crumbs of chocolate
    and DNA of those few souls who rode along in you—
    all parked in a parking lot waiting to be bought
    by someone who will never know the hidden you.
    Just like the rest of the world,
    frequented by interlopers.
    Only we, leaving you, will murmur “Goodbye Old Paint”
    and know that although you neither hear nor answer,
    somehow our past is locked up inside of you
    and there a part of us will stay
    while we depart without it.

    Liked by 2 people

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