When I was very young, the only thing I knew about cars was, my father had a Ford and my next-door friend’s father had a Chevrolet. The Chevy was much snazzier than our Ford. Their car was bought for its flash; ours, for safety. The Ford’s back doors could be locked with a latch on the outside, so if a child pulled up the inside lock and pulled the handle, the door couldn’t be opened. (In fact, I’m not even sure the back doors had inside handles.) Apparently, in those days, no one considered how we’d get out in the case of a real emergency.
Cars remained mere transportation for me until I was in my early teens. I had been visiting Rhode Island relatives and, unbeknownst to me, my mother and aunt arranged for a cousin’s fiance to drive me home to Connecticut on his way back to New York. When he pulled up in his white Corvette, I fell in love. With the car, of course. Black leather bucket seats. Barely muffled powerful engine. For the entire two hour drive, I asked him to go faster, and he repeatedly explained the promises he had made to my mother and to his future mother-in-law that he would drive safely. He informed me that, despite the ‘Vette’s well-earned reputation for speed and power, its fiberglass body actually made it quite fragile. He assured me if we were to have an accident, the car would split in two. We’d die instantly; if not, however, my parents would kill him. Ah well.
The romance of a ‘Vette was still with me when I married my first husband. Our only car was an old Buick he inherited from his grandfather, who had cherished it. My husband planned to carry on the tradition, treating it lovingly. When we decided we needed a second car so I could get a job, naturally I assumed the new car would be mine to drive. Wonder of wonders, the car he had his sights on was a brand-new Opel GT. That car looked like a baby ‘Vette, with its low stance, streamlined body, and a relatively big engine for a compact sports car. I was thrilled that he chose my favorite color, blue, and black leather seats just for me. Imagine my disappointment when he handed me the keys to the allegedly cherished ancient Buick, claiming he needed the smaller car with the better mileage.
A year or so later, the Buick finally gave up the ghost. He couldn’t bear to part with it as a trade-in, so it sat on blocks in our yard while we shopped for a used car for me. My only stipulation was that our next car had to be an Opel GT. We found one a little older than his, a little more beat up, a disgusting shade of mustard yellow, with dirty cream(ish) leather seats. But, it was mine, and I loved it. It was the only thing I took when I left him.
In honor of my love for ‘Vettes big and small, here’s Prince with “Little Red Corvette.” Ironically, today is first husband’s birthday. Enjoy!