One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
One of my favorite bloggers occasionally writes about her Mustang, Lucy. At the end of today’s story she asked if anyone had a Mustang story of their own. While I learned to drive in a 60-something Mustang, (Maybe a ’68?) back then I wasn’t all that into cars. Little did I know how much influence a car would have on my life.
I met my husband in a gym, which today is the equivalent of a bar. Gyms didn’t have that kind of stigma back then, but there you have it.
It never failed that he would walk past me just when I was gritting and grimacing. He’d always say something really cheerful like, “Work ’em hard!” If he wasn’t so handsome I probably woulda decked him.
Eventually I got a name, but that was a cruel joke. I didn’t know anything about ethnic names or European cultures. Where I’m from the closest we ever got to having an ethnic group was you were either a dairy farmer or an apple farmer. So unfortunately I could not for the life of me remember his name, which made for some rather entertaining early dialogue.
Truth be told, I hustled him. That’s the advantage of being older and wiser. There was another guy at the gym who looked a lot like him, so to play it safe I was probably a little too nice to both of them. Today you’d almost have to punch me in the head to get my attention in a gym.
Ah, she’s grown so cold.
Anyhow, in the fall of 1981 the story went like this:
His opener: “I’ve been working on my Mopar. Do you like Mopars?”
Me: “Sure do!” (I had no idea what a Mopar was. I hoped I didn’t just admit to liking something illegal or immoral.)
Him: “Great! “ Big, huge pause. He’s clearly at a loss for words, which I mistake for nerves. (I found out much later that for him that was verbose. )
Me: “I’d really like to see your Mopar!” (Because I’m groping and I have no idea what a Mopar is! Now I’m really hoping it’s not illegal or gym slang for a body part or something.)
Him: “Really?” (Looks at me like he’s just stumbled on the Lost City of Gold.)
Me: “Sure!” (OK, I’ve thrown caution to the wind so you’d better get with the program, buddy. This is your big chance!)
He tells me he’ll bring it to the gym on Friday, which means it’s probably not a body part or an exercise. Phew!
Friday he walks into the gym all cocky and excited. Tells me he brought the Mopar. He’s not wearing it or carrying it, so I ask him where it is?
I’m thinking motorcycle?
Mysteriously enough, we finish lifting at the exact same time. (Another story) The excitement mounts. We walk out to the parking lot and there she is.
It’s a car, for crying out loud.
In steel gray primer.
”WOW! It’s beautiful” (First lie. Honest.)
He thinks so. It’s written all over his face. Proud as punch.
I slowly circle the heap. Peer inside. It’s God-awful. Smells like oil. Milk crate for a passenger seat. Toolbox on the floor. Racing harness seat belt. (Not a big confidence builder.) Funky looking pistol shifter. No door panels. Is that blue shag carpet? Enough gauges on the dash for a lunar landing and stereo speakers that make the ones in my living room look like a Sony Walkman.
I’m groping for something nice to say.
I’m smiling so hard, my face actually hurts.
He’s such a cutie, but the car? It’s a wreck! Obviously the car is important to him, so I flash a big grin and say the only really cool thing I’ve ever said in my entire life.
”Did you bring her up here just to look at or were you gonna offer to take me for a ride?”
Months later when he finally decided it was safe, he told me he fell in love with me when I said I liked his car.
Men. If they only knew the truth!
PS. Turns out, the ‘Cuda kicked butt! 😉
The Consequences of Falling by K.D.Lang from Invincible Summer
I remember that feeling …. the one that sits now, deep in the woods like a rusty old hunk of discarded metal.
There are no roads that lead here, no trails. I’m not sure how this car got here or why it was abandoned so deep in the woods. It’s been sitting here since way before I moved to this area, which was twenty-four years ago last month.
The occasional visual blight aside, I love this stretch of woods. It’s not clogged with underbrush and the rolling landscape is dotted with interesting old trees
and crossed by several old stone walls.
I’ve spent a lot of time exploring these woods and I’ve come to think of them as my own … even thought they’re not.
Something about this dirty, neglected car caught my eye as I drove past. I had to go back and shoot it. I love old barns. They remind me of my youth, growing up on and around farms. When I hear pigeons I’m reminded of the birds that used to roost in the rafters of our barn. And once, there was an owl. That was a little spooky.
I especially liked that this barn was natural and not painted. Not that I don’t like painted barns too. I do! But we had two barns on our farm that looked a little something like this. Deeply weathered wood, such beautiful barn boards.
While I was shooting, the the owner of the barn came out of his house across the street. He appeared to be in his mid-forties and was curious why I wanted to photograph his barn. I explained that I was an amateur photographer and I just liked something about the old car parked inside the barn. He laughed and said he didn’t know what it was about that, but a professional photographer had driven by last summer and asked if she could capture the same scene. He said, “She had one of those tripod things with her, too!” I smiled and told him I had one in my car, but I wasn’t going to get that fancy. I just wanted a couple of quick shots. He was fine with that. I thanked him for his permission, took a few pictures, then moved on.
I was a young whipper-snapper, maybe all of 22, and late for work as an underpaid, overworked dental assistant for a Big Whig in a small, but oh-so-wealthy New England town. I lived way out in the boondocks and to hear me tell it, the drive to work often took longer than anticipated. The truth of the matter was, I usually got a late start. Back in those days you were expected to be at work no less than 20 minutes before the first patient arrived, but I was always pushing my luck.
One sunny spring morning I found myself trapped behind an old guy (read as: middle age. Probably no older than I am now) who was taking his sweet time driving down a major two-lane highway. Traffic was moderate and I was young, late and impatient. Unable to pass, I rode up his butt for a good three miles before I finally got a chance to zip around him like some kind of wild banshee. As I charged past his vehicle the man turned and looked at me like I was a lunatic. (I was) In a moment of spontaneous defiance I gave him the one finger salute. I probably mouthed some choice words I’d rather not repeat too. In my haste, all I could think was that he was infuriatingly slow and making me late. I floored the accelerator and left him sucking my fumes.
Naturally, the next light was red. I glowered with loathing as the tortoise eased his big old boat up behind my Pinto. My eyes flicked to the rear-view mirror and to my disgust, the man appeared perfectly composed. He even smiled congenially! I smirked and focused on the road ahead. The light changed and my car lurched forward like a horse charging out of the starting gate. I sped down the road only to be forced to a screeching halt at the next traffic light. This scenario repeated itself three times: me blasting ahead with each change of the light, only to be stopped by another red light just a few blocks up the road. There’s nothing worse than passing someone like the Mad Hatter, only to have to sit beside or in front of them at the next red light. I finally ditched him at the forth light; I ran the yellow while he slowed to a halt as the light changed to red. “Good riddance you old putz!” I thought smugly.
I reached the office with only seconds to spare, jumped out of my car and flew up the back stairs still muttering about ignorant, poky drivers. I paused to commiserate with the secretary about the idiot who’d had the nerve to lolly-gag under the speed limit on a busy Monday morning! After sharing a large dose of drama with her (probably a little too loudly) I went to set up my room for my first patient, still riled and distracted by the indignity of oblivious drivers and old cronies. Moments later I heard the bell chime on the waiting room door. Patients trickled in, exchanged greetings and pleasantries with Carol and took a seat. A green light suddenly blinked at my station. I composed myself, put on a big warm professional smile, and went to get my first patient.
And who do you think that patient was?
I haven’t succumbed to the urge to do something quite that stupid in a long time. I’ve come close, but some lessons stick to your ribs!