In 1992, however, my father found me a blue Toyota Tercel to help me get back and forth to Binghamton. I still remember the night he and my mother drove it to my work and said, "We think we found you a car. Our friend at Toyota said it was cheap and runs well." I thought they were kidding, but when I got home it was in the garage. I was like, "Whoa." Cecilia died the year after I graduated high school.
I quickly named my new wheels Joan Popper, after the lead singer of Blue Traveler, John. I never got into music fanaticism too much, but I loved that bad throughout college. I traveled with my blues all the way through my first year of teaching when she decided she wouldn't run any more. That's when I bought Ethyl Betty, my redneck Ford Ranger - I wanted to fit into Kentucky.
Last night, I began thinking about off-the-street cars because that is what Chitunga purchased for himself in his senior year. Mentoring him, I advised that it wasn't a good idea, but this was a kid I taught to drive in less than a week and he passed to get his license. His wheels were perfect for him to go back and forth to work in Stratford from his home in Bridgeport.
He called around 8 p.m. last night to say, "Bryan, my car is dead." Uck. It was the battery, so I drove to give him a jump. Long story short, it wasn't a dead battery but a lose cable on his batter that needed to be tightened with an 8 wrench. I had flashbacks of my own breakdowns - especially on 81 going to and from Binghamton when Joan wanted to be stubborn. She had oddities, like the odors she'd admit.
"Bryan, it smells like shrimp in here. Bryan, you have kielbasa in the back seat? Bryan, why does your car smell like Oreo cookies?" I just thought she was an olfactory machine and I looked forward to 'name that scent' every time I took her to and from a destination.
First cars. They're something. Like a dog, they become a part of the family - ones that you miss from time to time. I really did love Cecilia and Joan. Heck, I've loved Ethyl, Lucille, and Roseanne, too. Now I'm loving Kermit.
This reminds me...I need to ask Chitunga what he's calling his piece of rubble these days. And he better not park behind me. I don't have time to get trapped in my own driveway.