Remember your first car?
Do you remember your first car? I know I do and I’d be willing to bet that most of you all do as well. Before I get to what my first car looked like, let me ask you something else, did you get your first car at 16, right when you got your license? The reason I ask is that we are approaching a big milestone in our family. Our oldest child is approaching his 16th birthday and you can imagine what his single, zeroed-in, focus is on.
His First Car!
An example of a typical conversation with #1 as I shuttle him to his engagements:
Son: Did you see that?
Mom: What? Where?
Son: That car you just passed.
Mom: Was the driver texting and driving? Can you read the license plate?
Mom: Did they have a toddler not properly restrained in a car seat? Man, that makes me so mad.
Son: Mom, no, did you see the car? That car is legit.
*note: Legit does not refer to its legal road status, although we can hope.
Even though many of his friends who have turned 16 did in fact get their own car for their birthday, some of them NEW cars (what the what???), we have explained that doesn’t always happen. He may have to use his dad’s car, or perhaps mine. Oh, the horror in his eyes when faced with the idea of driving a ‘Mom-Car’! I might have uttered something about beggars can’t be choosers and his feet can get him places.
But this got me thinking back to my first car. I did share my mom’s car for a while. I had to drive my sister around too and run errands, but I didn’t care. I was driving! But soon, it was time for me to get my own set of wheels. One day we saw an old Volvo parked in our neighborhood with a For Sale sign. It was a 1977 Volvo. It had mustard yellow paint and dark brown interior and I loved it! It was $1500 and my mom, dad and I all split it. I named it The Pineapple.
That car drove great and it was safe. It did develop one idiosyncrasy. The driver’s door handle stopped opening from the outside. This meant that I had to unlock the passenger side, lean through and push the door open and run back around. OR—what usually happened is that I got in the passenger side and climbed over the center consol in my mini-skirt that matched my big 80’s hair and tassle boots. (I know you’re all glad I couldn’t find a picture!)
I had a friend who had a bright orange Thing! Man, that car was ‘legit’, let me tell you!
I think the best first car ever was my best friend Kimberly’s. She had an old tan Karmann Ghia. Sure, it sounds all cool, and trust me, it was. But it had a few idiosyncrasies of its own. First, it stalled ALL the time. Our high school was up on a huge hill and you had to inch your way up with all your classmates. When your car stalled on the way up that hill, everyone knew and they are all watching you get going again. To this day I swear that was the best practice on learning to drive a standard anyone could get.
But the really unique feature of her car was that the driver’s door wouldn’t stay closed. A hard right turn and the door would fly open. We felt the safest solution to this was to bungee cord the door handle to the emergency break. Sure, if she turned REALLY sharp, the door would still fly open but it slammed back pretty fast. Safety first, people!
Our cars were part of who we were. We drove them loaded down with our friends to our off-campus lunch. We took them to the beach. Yes, we drove them more than a few times down to the border of Mexico for a night of well-behaved frivolity in Tijuana. Ah, the memories!
I think your first car needs to have some bumps and bruises. It should be safe, without a doubt, but a showcase car it should not be! First cars are the makings of stories and memories. It’s a right of passage and the more character and quirkiness the better!
So, as I negotiate this first car milestone with my son, I want to hear about YOUR first cars. I know there are some great stories out there. Take a trip back to your teenage years and the feeling of getting behind your own set of wheels, freedom calling your name … and tell us all about it!