The Middle of Nebraska 1969
by Regis Boff
The first car I paid for by myself was a used Buick Electra convertible. At the time, it was the longest car ever manufactured in the United States. I abandoned it, sandwiched between cornfields with its axle torn, on a summer Nebraskan evening in 1969.
It endures to this day as the only car, at least in the Midwest, acknowledged with a mailing address. Two families have lived in it since then. They still write and promise rent. I tear up their small and occasional checks.
My girlfriend and I were going to San Francisco from New York. I was a hippy and she an Isreali. She was a gulpingly pretty girl who never fully embraced my car. She felt the car misrepresented her worth. She taught me the hard lesson that all inanimate objects are considered to be ornaments by women. The moment she saw my car I should known by the look on her lovely face that it would be a long trip.
She dumped me right there in the roadside gravel and hitchhiked back east. I stole some raw corn and went in the other direction.
This episode and its escort, heartache, set in motion a disturbing pattern in me. She was the first girl who hurt me. I ached for nearly a year. When I came out of it, I was changed. I blamed beauty and sought vengeance on it. It was great fun.
It did not occur to me until decades later that the only reason I worked at all during this part of my life 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.
It is fairly easy to gauge the type of woman you will charm with the make of car you drive. Most truly beautiful women, many of which could barely sneeze without advice, knew the price and year of any car on the road.
I had a little money by that time and engaged my prey without conscience. They deserved it.
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). We moved to a small town that young couples want for their children. Then they buy Volvo station wagons.
The Volvo station wagon is the car that women persuade men to buy before they have agreed on children. They use the pretext, “ we might need the extra room for a dog.”
The Volvo is the most duplicitous machine ever marketed. It is breathtakingly fast, drawing in the hesitant, continuously half-erect male. It is the woman, however, who knows that crash test dummies sometimes play Scrabble in it, during high-speed collision tests.
My current car and I are growing old together and entering into a more predictable repair schedule now. It takes me to doctors, and I take it to our mechanic on Main St.
I am beginning to sense a certain smugness coming from this car as if it thinks it might outlast me.
Then that old hardness in me shows itself, and I suggest that it might like Nebraska.