‘Tiny’ – So Much More Than A Car …

26 05 2010

Of course a car is not real … it is just a machine, it doesn’t have feelings, it is just a collection of mechanical parts that move you from place to place, but I can’t help feeling that maybe cars can have a soul?

Just like people it doesn’t matter where they come from, foreign or domestic, special ones almost seem to be alive.

My gray ’82 Camaro lives on in its retirement car port on my daughter’s mother’s farm in very rural Holmes County Florida … its brakes are bad, its parking brake nonexistent, but its engine still has power … it still is the Camaro Cruiser!

So strange, but I feel the same way about the car you might feel about and old cherished friend, but it is not alive … or is it?

I was just 23 years old when the Cruiser came into my life … even though Rhonda and Kylee have had the car for years, when I last visited and was cleaning the car out in the center consul (glove compartment) I found what was a kind good-bye note from my first wife Janice.

As the years have passed I have appreciated so much of what Janice did for me, she was over ten years older, in some ways a mother figure, mom with benefits. I was a wild teenager and she somehow knew how to handle me and taught me much, without her God only knows how long it would have been until I found out where a salad fork went or what suit size I wore, I still have my first suit that we bought in 1979 and eventual paid for, $10 a month … to find the note that the car had been holding for more than twenty years was like to be taken back in time to a different direction that my life could have, maybe should have taken.

Unless the Camaro dies in a wreak … hopefully one day Zane will get to drive it, he already loves the car just as I do. When he gets his license in 2018 the Camaro will be 36 years old!

Even though I all too rarely see it, it would be hard to take for the car to be gone … I almost feel as long as the car is hanging on, so is at least a small part of my youth.

The Camaro will get a new friend … the only question is when.

“Dad you’re going to roast in this car!”, said my eight year old Kylee when she first got to see ‘Tiny’ on a day with near record late April heat.

Kylee in April of 1998, not much older than Zane is now.

Tiny may have been one of the last cars to come without standard air conditioning, plus in HX you only had a choice of red or black … being black has just made it all the hotter.

Air conditioning was a $1,500 option about the same price at the time of a laptop computer, since I didn’t drive that much, at the time, and wasn’t going to keep the car that long, I went with the laptop.

Last year at our yard sale I sold the laptop and a nice case for $40.

Tiny is a 1998 Black Honda Civic HX … a car that gets over 40 MPG … didn’t seem to important back in ’98 when gas was under $1 per gallon and money was not an issue, but the last few years it has been very much appreciated.


As I write this (May 25, 2010) our Moon is 233,329.2 miles away … Tiny has almost made it, the question is will he be able to make it back?

When Tiny was born in February of 1998, I had a ’96 Ford Explorer, but Kylee’s Mom just had to have it … so to keep a good relationship with her, which we have always more or less had, she took over the payments and got it.

I was working and living in Baltimore as a TV weatherman. I thought about getting a Volvo C70 convertible, but since I was living in the city, I thought I would get a smaller less expensive car just to keep a couple of years and would not have to worry so much about it getting dinged up.

Of course due to the turns of life a couple of three years has now turned into more than 12 … my eight year old blue-eyed little girl is now a beautiful young woman of 20 and of course Tiny is all that Zane has ever known.

Looking back at who I was in 1998 my life since then has been a bigger challenge then that I ever would have imagined … more than one night I slept in Tiny at highway rest stops … Zane and I have slept in Tiny together in route to or from Florida.

Though it all with only two exceptions, no matter how rough the going was Tiny has been there for me.

Tiny even almost seemed to heal himself … for many thousands of miles the check engine would come on. I had a couple of dealers look at it and independent mechanics, the light would go off for a day or two and then right back on.

On the eve of President Obama’s inauguration I drove into DC to get a feel of what the excitement was like, of course the traffic was crushing and just as I got into DC Tiny started to lose power, I thought this may be it for my old friend; it seemed maybe I had lost a cylinder or worse. Was the Whitehurst Freeway in bumper-to-bumper traffic where Tiny was going to die?

I didn’t dare to turn off Tiny, never made it to the National Mall, but did manage to limp home.

I took Tiny in the next day and there was nothing wrong, the mechanics could find NOTHING, plus the check engine light has not been on since then … it was like the car had healed itself! To this day I still have no idea what happened, but Tiny has performed flawlessly since then. Mmm … the check engine light was only on during the Bush administration.

During my trip to the Moon with Tiny there was only one other scary moment, this is a brief except from my book ‘Tangled Wires’ (My hope is to get my life untangled enough to actually get it finished before I expire.);

It was a warm sticky day in Philadelphia, it was spitting rain, I rushed to get what I was taking to the storage room, about six miles away from my apartment as quickly as I could, returned the truck, stopped at the post office to get a money order to pay the rent, but the line was way too long. What was it Christmas in August?

Driving from the post office in Bala Cywnyd, a road I had taken hundreds of time, my car a ’98 Honda Civic with 143,000 miles, but never an accident, affectionately known as ‘Tiny’ to me and my son Zane started to swerve to the left on the rain slick road, I wasn’t going any faster than I had gone many times before, maybe 35-40 mph, but suddenly I was out of control, after doing a 360 ‘Tiny’ hit a curb and the car went up over the curb, I hit my head.

For ‘Tiny’ it could have been worse, I limped the car to a parking lot and could hear the air leaking out of a tire, one of the wheels was bent and broken.

The tire was going flat fast, but I was able to get the car the half mile to home. It ended up being a $1,200 repair … more money that I don’t have that had to be spent.

My head hurt, but I thought I was OK. I wanted to try to change the tire, but I had no time as it was now 5pm and I was trying to catch an 8pm flight to Fort Myers.

So maybe Tiny is not really alive … but on our many trips between Virginia and Maryland Zane and I almost always do improve where Tiny is part of our conversation and one of us is talking for Tiny … strange, but I almost feel that the car is telling me what to say.

My Camaro was with me almost every day for 11 years, before I bought a ’93 Chevy C1500 Extended Cab Pick-Up – Blue Huge – that is still now with Rhonda and Kylee, but Tiny has now been with me even longer.

How much longer? That is one of the mysteries of life, but hopefully long enough to earn a very well deserved retirement in Florida with Camaro Cruiser … together those two cars represent an intimate and every day experience for close to a quarter of a century.

Who knows … sure Tiny may not really be alive, but to me he will always have a soul.

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