How it felt to touch her. The nervousness and the uncertainty. Learning as you went. Realizing you could take her to places neither of you had been before.
I'm speaking, of course, of my first car.
It was February 1989. When I turned sixteen, my parents decided that I would get Mom's car and she would get something newer. So there it was, a black 1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. And it was all mine.
Sure, she had a few miles on her. How many, I'm not really sure, because the odomoter had broken long ago. But I knew it had power. A 3.8L V-6 under the hood. Vinyl seats. Wire wheel covers. (Stop drooling.)
I'll admit there were a couple of quirks, as there are bound to be with any
The Carlo also featured an AM/FM radio with the always-popular-but-never-practical cassette player with fast forward only, no rewind. So if I wanted to listen to a song again, I would have to flip the tape over and try to guess at how long to fast forward it. What einstein came up with this brilliant bit of cost-cutting ingenuity? How much extra does it cost to put a simple rewind button on there?
Then there was the speedometer. Or lack thereof. I drove by RPM's, much like NASCAR drivers do. Somehow I estimated that in high gear, 2000 RPM's equalled to 55 MPH, which was still the speed limit on most roads here in 1989. I have no idea how close I was, but I never got a ticket in that car.
Last but not least, for some reason the car would not stop running for a few seconds after you turned off the ignition. And by a few, I mean anywhere from five to twenty. Many days I remember pulling up to the Piggly Wiggly (my first job), turning off the car, taking out the keys, and getting nearly to the door before it would completely stop. Ironically, when I would crack it back up and start to back out, it would go dead if I didn't jam it from reverse into drive and give it gas all in less than 0.35 seconds.
There were good things about her, though. The cloth interior had come loose from the ceiling and hung fairly low. So, if I rolled the windows down, which I often did since the air didn't work, the wind would give it this super-cool rippling effect. Kinda like horizontal drapes flowing in front of an open window on a windy March afternoon. (Much like those in George Michael's "One More Try" video.) You might be surprised at how much attention this drew around town. Oh yeah! Everyone wanted to get a look at Bone in his sweet ride.
Oddly, I never had a date in that car. Talk about weird! Working at Piggly Wiggly, where my uniform consisted of a brown smock over a button-down shirt and one of those 80's solid colored nylon ties, and driving that marvel of modern machinery, one would think the ladies would have been all over me.
I drove the Carlo for five or six months, until I got a new job at another grocery store and a raise to $3.85 an hour. Then I could afford to get my own car. But I will always remember the black 1980 Monte Carlo. After all, you never forget your first.
(I thought it would be fun to do a series of posts, writing about each of the cars I've had. This was, obviously, part one.)
"I drive fastly, call me Jeff Gordon. In the black SS with the navigation..."