“How Often Do You Change The Rubber Band Out In That Thing?”

The first car I called “all mine” was a 1963, road sign yellow MGB roadster convertible.  It had wire wheels, a rag top, black and white racing stripes across the hood and over the trunk, and a little horn that sounded not unlike the Warner Brothers Road Runner call… Beep, Beep!  I got her in 1980, sometime around my 16th birthday;  I’m really fuzzy on the “when” details.

I opened up Adobe Illustrator for the first time in my life tonight and managed to draw this illustration shown above in only 20 minutes! Please don’t faint from the savant-esque quality.  However, if you’d like a better idea of what the car resembled, I’ve imported a photo for your viewing pleasure.

This car is missing the racing stripes, and appears to be in much better condition, body-wise, than mine. The hood on mine was a bit rippled and I think I recall it had been raced around a amateur track a few times...e.g, crash 'em up?

It’s common for people to refer to their first true love with a faraway look in their eye.  When you see this look, you know they’ve conjured up some memory, some shred of a wondrous time where their entire world felt right.  And I’ll admit, I still hold a very special compartment in my heart for my first two loves (yes, I had a junior high first love, and then a “much more mature” – ha!, high school first love) that I might write about someday.  However, my first true car love was, in some ways, just as strong as those romantic relationships of my youth.

Perhaps what makes any true love relationship so special is the wide variety of experiences you encounter with said love-target.  Exhilaration, enamor-ation, heartbreak, ridicule, anxiety, fear, hilarity, and risk…to name a few, are emotions I can think of covering both the car AND the dating relationship territory.

Given this particular area of thought, I decided to share a few of  these experiences with you.  And, perhaps spark a few memories of your own you’d like to share back in the comments section?

Exhilaration: Driving down the highway to school one cool fall morning, I had the top down, my long hair was whipping all around my face – almost stinging sometimes as bursts of wind mixed with the velocity of crosswinds coming over my windshield in the 50 degree weather cracked my locks against my cheeks like a bullwhip.  The damp air was chilling, my feet and body were toasty from the car’s heater purring through the vents, and I was singing out my heart as loud as possible to the little tinky radio set in the dashboard.  I. Loved. Life. And. I. Loved. My. Car.

Enamor-ation: I used to park my car on the west side of the west pine tree in my front lawn.  My bedroom window provided a view of my parked car from a close 30-foot vantage point.  One night when I was having trouble sleeping, I got up and looked out the window.  There, in full view under a strikingly full moon, was my car…waiting on me until the next day when we could have adventures.  “Ahhh, l’amore…” I sent my little car a love-thought in Pepe LePew’s voice, and went to bed.

Ridicule:  My long-time neighbor and friend, Randy Burris, was exceptionally good at ridiculing my little MGB.  “So, do you use your feet for brakes?”  “How often do you change the rubber band in that thing?”  “Hey, I’m missing a couple of cars in my Hot Wheels collection, I think your car will fit in my case…can I have it?” And, standing right beside my car, looking out over the horizon, “Did you drive your car today? I don’t see it…where is it?”  Ha ha, Randy.  Ha, ha, ha, ha.  Make fun of my car all you want.  Bring three of your friends and take your places, two in the front and two in the back, and lift my car up off the ground to prove a point.  Ridicule its size, its power, the fact that the doors don’t lock, its stereo system…take ALL the cracks at it you want.  I don’t care.  She’s mine, and I love her. *puts hands on hips, steps back, and sticks out tongue emphatically like a kindergartner*

Anxiety: One of the worst experiences of my high school life was when, for reasons that remain unknown to me even now, a girl one year older than me decided her goal in life was to make my life miserable.  Threats to beat me up came almost daily in the hall from her or her friends.  She would push me in the back, shove me sideways into others, put wet suckers into my hair from behind me while sitting in the bleachers at a basketball game then twist them so they were impossible to get out, and glare at me every time I encountered her.  And, she (or one of her friends…I can’t recall) drove a very large, comparatively of course, Delta 88.  The “Delta 88” used to chase the “MGB” down main street, down the road to the high school, and sometimes in the parking lot by the track and field.  The parking lot by the track and field was grass and dirt, so occasionally there was some spinning of tires or throwing up of dust.  “The MGB” got me through this entire process, and although dwarfed by “the Delta 88,” let’s just say my little car made it; she was up to the task.  Good job, car, for keeping it together…I know your driver certainly wasn’t calm and collected during that whole process.

Hilarity: Closely related to ridicule yet not quite the same, hilarity ensued when it came to ways “the boys” in high school made my car the brunt of jokes.  I know it meant they thought I (or at least my car) was worthy of some sort of attention, but sometimes these jokes were pretty far fetched.  Most of them entailed me walking out to the parking lot after school, or band practice, or track, to find my car missing.  Then an APB status followed with my girlfriends, and the hunt would commence.  My car doors didn’t lock, remember?  So all the guys had to do was open the doors, put the car into Neutral, then push it wherever they darn well pleased.

I found my car hidden behind the dumpster in the Methodist church parking lot.  Once I found her parked precariously in the lot of the Tuttle Tavern (oh…great…), and one time I found her at the bottom of the steps leading up to the gymnasium with her two front tires on the third or fourth step.  In other words, she was parked ON the stairs.  And once, I found her parked sideways in a space beside the gym between two trucks.  On the right was a former boyfriend’s army-green truck, and on the left was a farm truck of some sort.  There was about six inches on either side of the front and bumper of my car, and part of the joke was to watch me try to get out of the parking spot.  I suppose, part of the joke ended up on my former boyfriend because somehow, when backing up and moving forward 500 times to get out of the jam, my car bumped his door and dented it. Too bad….NOT.

There are only two or three emotions of this love story remaining, but I think I’ll save them for a follow-up post.  There are enough reflections of the remaining emotions to fill up their own little story and deservedly so.  And perhaps, I just can’t make my first-car-relationship post only one entry long.  So, until then…may you create many beautiful car memories of your own…and if you do, please let us know about them.

Beep, Beep!




2 thoughts on ““How Often Do You Change The Rubber Band Out In That Thing?””

    1. Q ~ an important life skill, indeed! My worst stick-shift experience was when I was still learning… Dad might have been in the car, not sure. Remember the hill by Joe & Annabell’s house? Ugh. Rolling down that hill backwards was NOT a cool thing.

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