Gib and I bought a BMW before we drove to LA for Thanksgiving last year. We needed something. My car was pronounced dead and his was an old Honda Civic without shocks or creature comforts. Well, some creatures found it comfortable, like the mice in the pole barn, but I never did. Anyway, the Saturday before we left we found a beautiful Beamer the color of the sea. It stood out like the amazing machine it was. I am a sucker for beauty in people and machines, so I was sold. But it is definitely a guy car! We got the sports package. I don’t exactly know what that means, except it has performance tires that hug the road and make it hard to steer. The inside is black, the dashboard looks like it belongs in a private jet and the seats have more positions than a thousand piece puzzle. My neighbors have named my car, Jumping Jack Flash, which is a good masculine name and suits his spirit.
Gib drove to LA, feeling manly, he had found his inner stud and its real world reflection. The car responded by doing whatever he wanted and more, while I declined driving. But it was supposed to be my car, so when we got back to Portland I got behind the wheel. The thing is, the car and I really never got to be friends. I even asked the dealer to take it back but everyone agreed that with enough time I could learn to love it. I do admire its beauty and capabilities, but in real life, it’s beyond me.
It’s like when I visit my son, Clay. At home I can manage because my life is simple. I write on the deck under the tree with pad and pen in hand, then type it into my very old version of Word Perfect and send it off, but when I visit my son, he owns the best of the best in computer technology. He is the graphics king and uses machines and software I have no right being in the same room with. Honestly, I don’t even know how to turn his system on. Well, that’s how it is with the Beamer. It should belong to someone who understands it.
When my daughter told her friends I had a BMW, they shook their heads and said, your mom? That just doesn’t seem like your mom. I definitely have a classy elegant side that loves fine things, but fine machines are a tad beyond me. And why am I bringing all this up now?…because Kristen has borrowed my car to go to Seattle. She likes to borrow my car, and has NO trouble seeing herself in a BMW at all. That means we trade. When she takes my car, I drive her 1989 Volvo which has 300,000 miles on it. It is elderly, friendly, white, needs a new transmission, has torn seats, and is basically as comfortable a car as I could imagine.
Kristen’s car is sort of a Clydesdale’s mare, while the BMW is a high-strung thoroughbred. He wants to run fast and does. I spend all my driving time reining him in, which is not easy, because he tricks me. I think I’m going down the highway at 55 and look down to find it’s 80. That car is just like a spirited horse, and horses always know when someone inexperienced is on their back, and will throw them off or take advantage of them every time.
The Volvo on the other hand is a feminine spirit. She putts down the highway with aged integrity, not pushing in line or showing off like Jumpin’ Jack Flash. She is, in a few words ‘age appropriate.’ I also like her because she is not precious like her brother. The BMW shuts down in snow, refusing to leave the corral. If I coax him out, he slides in the ditch and says, I told you I don’t like cold feet. Put me back. The Volvo on the other hand will fight to make it up the driveway and succeed. She’s wise and snow-worthy. She’ll also allow children to stand on her roof to pick the plums, cherries and apples along the road, while Jumping Jack would not lower himself, for fear of scratching his perfect surface.
Jumpin’ Jack is not thrilled to have me on his back. He’d prefer a 30 year old jockey with growing testosterone levels, but for now, we have each other and need to co-exist. He’ll be back in my driveway soon, a target for bird poop and cedar branches. I even found a slug on his windshield last week. That really pisses him off because he knows he should live in an upscale neighborhood with his own paddock, not be left to rot with an old girl who fancies broken down Volvo’s.