Friday, January 28, 2011

Labrador Behind The Wheel

There are two types of drivers in this world: Commuters and Labradors.  You can tell the difference between the two.  A commuter's face is in a constant state of fluctuation, betwixt tension and utter boredom.  An angry raisin staring at the road ahead, eyes fixed upon the end in sight.  Route A to B to A to B until the mind is numb.

I am a Labrador.  If I could, I would let my ears flap in the wind, my tongue loll out the window with a permanent grin glued on my face, and a guffawing sound, Disney-like by nature would echo from my lungs.  Drool and slobber be damned.  Had I a tail it would wag constantly, thumping against the leather seat like a drumbeat to the music from my radio.  I am happiest in motion.  My car is an extension of who I am.

Commuters do not understand this connection.  Other Labradors do.  You can tell when you meet a fellow Lab.  Their eyes soften as they talk about their car.  They talk about how they love to follow the curve of a road as it snakes ahead of them.  They would never dream of flying, even if it shaves off a day's worth of time.  Saving time has nothing to do with being a Labrador behind the wheel.  You can't stick your head out of a plane.  I'm certain that tongue and tail wagging are frowned upon by the FAA.

Music and driving go together.  It's another part of the relationship that I have with my car.  Sometimes I leave NPR on the radio and listen to the voices wafting in from a tiny studio, filled with underpaid nobodies and marginal somebodies.  Most of the time my car and I twist and turn along to a jumble of music.  One of my longest and healthiest relationships was with Julie, the Chrysler Sebring.  She was the first car I had; a green convertible with a tan roof that opened up to the sky.  I don't know why I named her, except that there was a song that was the impetus for naming metal and leather and rubber bits stuck together by a factory full of people I would never meet or form an attachment to.  But I named it, and thought of the car as female.  I was twenty-one years old then.  The car was bought from my folks at the family discount rate.  Not quite the five finger discount, but close to it.  Nine years later Julie had her last drive.  The engine needed to be replaced.  The brake pads were worn thin.  Julie was making odd sputtering noises when I hit the gas peddle, or the brake, or turned the wheel, or blinked.  She wasn't a pet, but it was a loss.  That car was a way to leave the familiar and find a new home.  To be reckless in search of adventure on the high seas of black tar and gravel, and then to return home where it was safe.  Julie was a place for misbehaving and losing items found years later wedged under the back seat.  Julie was all of those things.  Now I have Sam.  Sam is more mature.  She is a less dented convertible.  Sam is new and was purchased from a dealer's lot, where words like "financing" and "loans" and "interest rate" were applied.  Pieces of paper were stapled together and signed.

Sam steers me out of Boston and we move on up and east towards the Coast.  I open up my eyes and watch the lights wink at me from around the bend.  The windows are rolled down and I let my lungs fill up with air.  My tail wags against the leather and I am a happy gal again.

1 comment:

The Lost Romantic said...

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My father's first novel is available for purchase - click on the link to access it. Randall's Jury by Ted Newman.