Thursday, July 21, 2011

Driving Miss Gretchen

I have an August birthday, so being young in my class, I was one of the last of my friends to get a driver's license.  This was in no way a disappointment to me because I hated to drive.  And, most of my friends had cars, so I never had to worry about a ride. 

These cars all had awesome names like The Beast and Golden Thunder, which conjure up images of menacing or god-like vehicles, forces to be reckoned with indeed. But in reality, they weren't.  For instance, The Beast was really just an old Chrysler whose power steering went out every morning on our town's S curve, leaving us in a daily state of terror at the prospect of driving straight into Beaver Starr's living room.  Golden Thunder was an old Honda which topped out at 30 mph on any sort of grade or hill.  But they got us places, which is all that matters.

And, now to veer off on an extreme tangent....when I actually did get my first car, I named it Crash Bandicoot after the video game character (which actually turned out to be quite prescient when you consider the driving record I later achieved).  This is a rather long name, so it often got shortened, not to Crash (I didn't want to invite bad luck) but to Coot or Cooter.  This turned out to be problematic, since this is also a slang term for vagina.  You can judge for yourself by the following real quotes:

"My Cooter is so dirty.  I should probably wash it soon."
" that oil dripping from your Coot?"
"Let's go for a ride in your Cooter."

It goes without saying that this was a terrible nickname for a car.  I also had a fear that this car would catch on fire. (What if my Cooter catches on fire? -- Again, horrible!) My parents thought this was absurd, BUT once we sold it to a neighbor boy, it actually did catch on fire while he was driving it on the highway.  I know, I'm like a car whisperer or something.

And, back to my original story (thanks for sticking with me!) Then there were my friend Weeze's cars.

Now, I still maintain that I did not break the door of the Chevette.  I was simply an innocent bystander who just happened to be the last person to use it while it was in working order.  For some reason, which I know nothing about, the inside door handle would no longer open the door.  As a result, whenever I rode with her, Weeze would have to act as my personal valet and come around to open my door for me.  This was nice, but I never had enough money to tip her, so in warmer months I would go Dukes of Hazard-style out the window.  It should be noted that this should not be done while wearing a skirt, unless you're into flashing the boy's baseball coach (which I'm not, though I did--I seriously didn't see him in the parking lot). 

I know this sounds suspicious, but when the inside handle of her mom's brown car mysteriously stopped working, I was again the last person to use it, and again none the wiser as to why.  It was no surprise when I was banned from ever riding shotgun again.  This was around the same time that the stench developed in that car. 

It started as a weird, questionable odor, but it soon evolved into full-blown foulness, to the point where passengers could only stand to ride in it if they had air fresheners pressed to their noses at all times.  Which is saying something because some of those are pretty nauseating as well. 

The smell turned out to be the result of some carry-out that was left under one of the seats and, in time, we were all breathing freely once again.   But it just goes to show that almost nothing can take the fun out of being a teenager and in a car, even if you're only along for the ride. 

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