Thursday, March 29, 2007

How I Roll

There are few absolute truths in an uncertain world. But perhaps this is one: You never forget your first.

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 old classic car. There was a slight hesitation problem with the accelerator. It did not exactly have the lightning fast response one would hope for. It took a little sputtering and three or four seconds before those 229 cubic inches of raw Motor City power would kick in.

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..."


  1. The first two paragraphs of this were very deceiving. I was hoping for something filthy and sordid.

  2. I was too, but I settled for remembering how cassette players fast forwarded when all I wanted was "rewind."

    If I knew what a wire wheel cover was I guess I would be drooling--right :)

    My non-familiarity with cars is sickening, maybe that's why I was chosen to receive Car & Driver

    Very funny post :)

  3. idk remember THAT first! lol I think girls dont usually get those same warm fuzzy feelings the first time... hehhehe

  4. i am with brookelina. i wanted some filth! ;)

    my first car was my mom's old car- a 1966 cherry red ford mustang. sweeeeet! god, i loved that car!

    i used to have a convertible vw super bettle with that same issue with the roof lining though since i am short it never bothered me that it hung low. everyone else who rode in my car were not as amused.

  5. I had a 1986 Dodge Charger.. I tore it all to hell. The first night I drove it I punctured the hose that had something to do with power steering by running over a rose bush. When I got rid of it, the car lot had to send a tow truck and haul it back to the lot.

  6. well, at least you learned what you were capable of in that car.

    It reminds me of the family car I learned to drive in....and 88 dodge caravan, dirt/mud brown.

    None of this fancy dvd system stuff either. Two bench seats with brown and caramel striped material.

    Thank god, shortly after my parents got rid of the "ride" and hooked me up with an Infitity 4x4. Sandstone colored. Sa-weet.

  7. Brookelina: Well, I had to use something to lure you in.

    Pia: Thanks. It almost became an ode to cassettes post, but I caught myself. Don't worry, I had to google the horsepower. (But don't tell anyone.)

    Kate: Oh, well. Maybe guys are just sentimental about certain things ;)

    Sizzle: Oh sweet!!! I would totally take your first car right now! The main problem with the roof lining was that it was 1989, and most girls I knew still had perms, so that would have caused some hair issues, I'm sure :)

    Burg: '86 Dodge Charger. Wow. We should have raced :)

    DCChick: An '88?? Yeah, I guess the DVD system didn't come standard on those. How did you ever manage? ;)

  8. The first car that I "owned" was a 74 Super Beetle. I say "owned" because while my name was on the title, I never actually drove that car. It of course was a standard transmission and I never learned how to drive a standard and it has a bad compression valve which made learning to drive a standard, impossible. I paid $100 to try to get that fixed and it still had something I traded it in on a 1990 Ford Tempo. Ahhhhh much better, a car I could actually drive. It was nice and we kept it until 1998 when we needed a family car and got my current car a 1994 Ford Explorer. Don't laugh, it's paid for and other than a few hair graying trips to the mechanic it runs great. We actually took this car with us to Korea.

  9. Do you know how many cars I've had? This is the first one I've ever kept longer than a year, literally! It would take forever to post a post about each car!
    I can't place what an '80 Monte Carlo looks like, but it sounds like you have fond memories of her :-) By the way, '80 was the year I was born!

  10. This is fast becoming my favorite post of yours, Bone. In fact, I could put it at number 1 if it weren't for that George Michael video...


  11. oh gosh! I remember my first very well! We called it the "Brown Mazeradi" :)

    She was a good car though.... 1981 Cutlass Supreme that got me all thru high school and college!

  12. good memories--I too started out working in a grocery store, but this was 15 years earlier when the mininum wage was a buck sixty! My first car was a '66 Ford Fairlane

  13. Yes, I want to hear about your other first!

  14. I still remember my first car. I hope I would, too, I've only had three in ten years. She was a big filthy bitch who was always falling apart. Christ I hated it.

  15. She was a big filthy bitch who was always falling apart.


    That sounds strangely how ex-boyfriends refer to me.

  16. Yep...I wanted the filthy story too...but then I remembered my first car...funny stories!

  17. Renee: Hmm, what's the difference in a Beetle and a Super Beetle? (Guess I'll have to google that now.) My mother had a Tempo at some point. I think it was a 1990, as well.

    Arlene: Hmm, I guess I should've found one online and posted a link to it. I may go back and do that.

    By the way, '80 was the year I was born!

    Thanks. I feel so young :)

    TC: I'm confused. I thought the George Michael video would make it better :)

    Kerry: Sigh. I miss Cutlasses.

    Sage: It's crazy to think that I worked six hours for bascially like 20 bucks.

    Malnurtured snay: I've had seven in way more than ten years.

    Eileen: That sounds strangely how ex-boyfriends refer to me.

    I would be interested and afraid to know how exes referred to me :)

    Esmerelda: OK, but I'm telling you, the story of my first bicycle is not very filthy :)

  18. I do remember a post called False Messiah

    It was about your cars and bikes?

  19. I thought the George Michael video would make it better

    There is no way you ever dreamed of believing that, Bone.

    And if you did, well, there is help out there for people like you. ;)

  20. Oh say you're not a JG fan! Love the Monte Carlo, fun car. My aunt and uncle had a cream one with checker board looking hubcaps (light dark metal). We thought it was so cool.

  21. Ahh!
    I've been trying to post this for three days and stupid new blogger wouldn't let old me sign in. Finally!

    You never had a date in the 'Carlo??? Oh come on, Bone, you can tell us, there has to be at least one girl story with the car. All cars have at least one GOOD other sex related story.

    You tell your 'Carlo story and I might be tempted to tell my Taurus one. Yes, yes, you read correctly - Taurus.

    Mock endlessly .. NOW.

  22. At least you HAD a cassette player in your first car. Mine had an a.m. radio. It cost me $375. It was butterscotch orange. 'nuf said. ;)

  23. Your comment on my blog was about a line directed to you

  24. My first car was a red 1988 Chevy Sprint. My mother rolled it into a ditchabout 10 years later.

  25. Pia: I do remember a post called False Messiah

    It was about your cars and bikes?

    LOL You actually play the naive role quite well.

    TC: Come on. So you're telling me you liked Savage Garden, but not George Michael?

    Kontan: Oh say you're not a JG fan!


    Avery Laine: Nope. No girl stories. As I said, I think the ladies of the eighties were afraid the drooping liner would kill their perm.

    Carmen: Woohoo!! I love butterscotch :) Sounds like one sweet ride.

    Anonymous: Thank you anonymous commenter.

    Xinher: On purpose, or accidentally? :)

  26. you're telling me you liked Savage Garden, but not George Michael?


    Well, I didn't like that song anyway...

  27. TC: A-ha! I knew it! What did you like? Faith? Father Figure? MONKEY???

  28. Eileen nailed it right on the head. That comment of filthy bitches and falling apart made me snarf. It made me wish I had opposable thumbs so I could get my fat ass behind the wheel and experience the thrill of driving first hand.

  29. What did you like?

    I'll never tell. :)

  30. Zeus: Ever hear of Toonces? :)

    TC: Mmhmm, that figures. It was "Monkey," I just know it.

  31. Keep in mind, I never said I liked any of his music either, Bone.

    I'm just going to stay in my neutral little corner...

  32. Oh, she accidentally did it.

    And why is everyone bagging on George Michael? I found the Faith and Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 albums to be quite delightful.

  33. TC: Well you said you didn't like that song anyway. So I took that to mean you liked at least one of his many hits. Or were you just all about Wham?

    Xinh: I think my collection of two Wham! cassettes, one Wham! CD, one George Michael cassette, one George Michael cassette single, and one George Michael CD speaks for itself :)

  34. I'm just going to take a page from your book and plead the fifth, I mean, the O:) on this one.

    I think my collection of two Wham! cassettes, one Wham! CD, one George Michael cassette, one George Michael cassette single, and one George Michael CD speaks for itself :)

    I'm not sure I would have admitted that if I were you...