My Cars and I

by Regis Boff

The first car I paid for by myself, was a Buick Electra convertible ( commonly considered the longest car ever manufactured in the U.S.). I abandoned it, sandwiched by cornfields, broken down in Nebraska in 1969. It remains the only car, at least in the Midwest, with a mailing address, as two families are comfortably still living in it. My girlfriend dumped me, right there, and thumbed back east with a stranger, setting in motion a disturbing course of using my cars as madams.

Until I was married, it never occurred to me that the only reason I worked at all was to buy expensive cars. Fine cars are a persuasive indicator of compatibility to a woman, even more precise than astrological signs and a sense of humor. Likewise, it is fairly easy to gauge exactly the type of woman you are attracting with the car you drive. After Nebraska, all I ever cared about was how physically attractive a woman was. I know this was oafish, but I had been wounded, and this seemed an appealing brand of revenge. These women, ( some of whom, in my case, could barely sneeze without advice), could tell you the price and year of any car on the road. I had a little money at the time and engaged my prey without conscience.

When I married, the dynamic of seduction had to be re-calibrated. Using my car as an aphrodisiac was now unthinkable ( as well as perilous). Small towns are magnets for young couples. They all buy Volvo station wagons, just like we did. This is the car that women start persuading men to buy before they have even spoken about children. They use the pretense of “might need the extra room for a dog.” This is the most duplicitous machine ever marketed. It is breathtakingly fast ( drawing in, the unsure male), but it is his spouse who knows that crash test dummies sometimes play Scrabble in it, during high speed collision tests.

My oldest car and I are entering into a more predictable repair period now. It takes me to doctors, and I take it to George, our mechanic on Main St. I am beginning to sense a queer, certain smugness, coming from this car, like it thinks it might outlast me. Then that hardness in me shows itself again, and I suggest to him, he might like being an apartment in Nebraska.