There’s nothing like a hot ride. And my first car was nothing like a hot ride. A 1987 Chevrolet Celebrity station wagon. Baby blue with a generous array of leathery rust spots, it was the vehicular love child of an obese Smurf and Dog the Bounty Hunter.
The car was a gift from my grandfather, for whom it had served the dual purpose of smoking lounge and elderly chick magnet. As with most things – especially his changeover from a black toupee to a white one – my grandfather had impeccable timing, giving me the car at the height of my high school insecurity. Because nothing makes a 16-year-old more self-confident than a battered station wagon manufactured in the previous decade.
That said, I’ve never been one to look a gift horse in the mouth, or toupee. So I accepted the car just as I had accepted puberty, with profuse gratitude and quiet shame. And to my surprise, even though I would have preferred something red and Italian, The Celeb – as my friends and I called it – would come to serve me well. It was clean, the engine started on cold mornings and the brakes – unless I needed to stop – worked great.
Like many high school vehicles, The Celeb saw its share of youthful indiscretions. Cigarettes were smoked, beer was transported, and virginities were lost. At the time they all seemed like perfectly constructive activities. Though I suppose, in retrospect, I was just trying to keep up with President Clinton.
Fast forward a dozen years and I’m now car-less…memories of my baby blue Chevy brought back today by news that the House of Representatives has passed so-called “Cash for Clunkers” legislation. The idea, as I understand it, is to give Americans who turn in their gas-guzzlers vouchers for up to $4,500 toward the purchase of a new fuel efficient car. I’m out of luck on this one, since The Celeb is long gone. Which is just as well since Anderson has a policy about staffers displaying bumper stickers that read, “Come and Get It, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen.”
So, with my gas-guzzling days behind me, I travel mainly on the New York City subway, a form of transportation for which there is little difference between overcrowding and an unsolicited lap dance. But, the price is right and I find comfort in the knowledge that by taking mass transit I’m doing my part to help the environment, even if on most days the experience ranks right below having my hair set on fire.
Still, I miss The Celeb and what it represented: Pride of ownership and the freedom to go where I wanted when I wanted.
And, of course, sexiness.
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