“Seven hundred”, I called out, nervously squeezing my kid’s hand. The rock’n roll lesbian couple looked at each other, they really wanted this car; it looked like a Ferrari. I really wanted this car even if it wasn’t practical at all for a single mom with kid and dog and it was red, the color police watches out for most. But I was about making the best out of wacko bad situations; losing a bunch of money in the stock market and being broke had been pretty wacko indeed. “That’s how this feels”, I had thought, “ when traders jump out of their windows after a financial crash.”
I was the 90’s. I was in shambles and had lop sided the two door SUV we had driven to Los Angeles from from Santa Fe, New Mexico. I needed something more than just crude necessity. Driving this power version of the Pontiac Fiero, a Fastback would make life funnier, lighter.
“750”, the couple yelled. “800”, I answered bravely standing my woman.
Bidding with a racing heart and sweaty hands I got the car. The San Fernando Valley car auction sold seized, stolen, impounded and forgotten vehicles; a car lot packed with drama.
“Why did they have to bid this up so much, didn’t they realize I wouldn’t budge?”, I said, my hands still trembling with anxiety and excitement. The whole action was fun but we also really needed a car living in the boondocks of hippie town Topanga.
“Be happy,” said my wise 10 year old son.
“Okay, I am”, I answered doing a little Yay dance.
It had been the right choice, the car roared powerfully, served us loyally and when kids asked if this was a Ferrari I felt giggly. After a little more than a year, the beautiful sturdy pony over heated and wasn’t repairable. I felt so guilty. I sold its remains to a Hollywood cinema car company; at least it’s frame would stay alive under a movie car.
The Fiero mirrored “I”m effed but I don’t let it get to me.” I was as cool and eccentric as I could be on my tiny budget. We drove in a similar funky vintage vehicle for the next two years, a Datsun Z, nice but we never made it to a love relationship. It was a rebound car after the theatrical Fiero Ferrari and I couldn’t commit; I was looking for more. By now I was on the road to success, looking for the next decent car and gifted the Z to a penny less musician who was “obsessed” with Datsun Z models. I paid big bucks for a shiny new Camry Hybrid version, eco friendly like my wedding production company, slick like a Beamer and very grown up. Mr Camry was a respected colleague, a great partner on many cross country road trips.
I had emotional attachments to all of my cars from respectful adoration to friendship and love. They were my daily companions, my buddies, with an cute purple convertible being my soul mate. They were expressions of how I felt about myself and served as power objects, making me feel better about my life.
My first ever love relationship was a 15,000 bucks MGB convertible, a sporty, sexy car fitting to my purple velvet jeans, Wild Thing T-shirt and custom made snake cowgirl boots from London. My boyfriend had gifted its dark purple paint job for my birthday. I was the free spirited fearless journalist driving to interviews, events and photo shoots and pushing my baby’s petal to make the deadline rushing back the local newspaper or the post office.
The convertible said I’m confident and in a superficial I was; my pizzazz depended on looks and what I had. Henry, my moody, eccentric English four wheel fellow presented me with temperamental electrical challenges. I learned about kicking the carburetor, cleaning spark plus, adding destilled water to the battery and checking the oil in the valve covers. I knew what head gaskets and cylinder heads were. I was confident and also independent; I handled my torch wrenches and floor jacks. I drove Henry to Portugal twice until I settled there, he was gun metal gray now and looked smashing with his cream top in front of the entrance tower of Quinta dos Figos, my house overlooking the ocean. As a construction company owner I drove a Landrover and Henry became my pampered number 2. I cried when I moved to the US and Henry drove away with his new owner. He had been my adventure car and after my shelter dog freaked out alone in the car and ate up the interior, was fully refurbished with black leather interiors. Henry had seen a lot of my brave, perseverant persona.
I was driving a Mini in the last few years, easy to find parking with and millennial fun. It brought me to many photo shoots in DTLA in front of street art and murals I love, to new women friends and coffeehouses, art galleries and foodie joints. The Mini mirrors the newfound feminine me, sweet, straightforward, neither demanding nor diva, not throwing tantrums like Henry or giving theatrical performances like Mr Fiero.
“She has plastic parts like all modern cars but is not plastic fantastic,” said my mechanic today when her repaired a coolant leak and patted her soft curves. “She can take a bump or too.”
I’ve caught myself posing in front of jeep Wranglers. As a power object it says; I’m tough, I can do this. Barbie wants a bigger edge.
I need this extra muscle, to be reminded of how much spunky success I had. I’m ready to put the pink girl in a punk jeep, one with fat tires and a muscly look. I’m ready to show ReBelle Barbie to the world and drive to DTLA not just to look at and pose with but to DO street art.
What’s you car story?