Monday, January 23, 2012

An Ode To My First True Love

As love affairs go it was bad idea from the start, she was an understated but sincere beauty with sensual curves in all the right places combined with an air of danger that never failed to turn heads while I was a naïve kid who did not have two-cents to rub together. Her seduction was quick and permanent leaving me no other option but to move heaven and earth to own her body and soul. Far from being something noble and good like love at first sight at its heart, my emotional state was nothing more than simple animal lust.

I spent days occupied with the thoughts on possessing her but I had to be patient and carefully lay out my plan. All this happened around 1984 and at the time, I was working for the South Carolina Highway Department doing anything they told me to do. I drove huge riding mowers cutting back vegetation encroaching on roads, replaced worn and faded highway signs, and my favorite, I inspected the undersides of bridges, which could bring me face to face with all sorts of snakes and rats larger than house cats with twice the attitude. All that hard work was done for the paltry salary that was very little above minimum wage at the time.

Eventually the day came where I collected my meager resources and with my grandfather, whose arm was very sore from my twisting, we drove off to the Chevrolet dealership in my hometown where I signed the papers on the car of my dreams. What, you thought this was about some woman?

My grandfather, who was my reluctant cosigner, looked on with a combination of amusement and sadness as I drove off with my 1984 Camaro Coupe. It had a grey paint job with just a V-6 engine but to me it was a freaking starship with its sleek lines and soft purring motor. Other people with the more expensive and powerful Camaro Z-28’s looked down on my baby but to me they were trying to overcompensate for something they lacked physically and frankly I considered that car style somewhat “whorish.”

For two years, my baby and me plied the roadways of the South Carolina Low country staying out of most trouble until I transferred over to the active army from the National Guard. The location of my permanent duty assignment was Fort Carson, Colorado forcing a temporary separation from my car until my grandfather and one of my uncles drove her to me. Once reunited, my Camaro opened up a whole new level of male oriented twenty-something activities that the greater Colorado Springs area offered.

Hey, I never considered myself a Don Juan but in simple terms, if that car could talk many of the stories associated with those activities would be rated “NC-17.” Since I need to cover all the bases and I will not make any further comment about it but I have researched the issue and the statue of limitations has run out on anything else that might have happened during that time.

Through it all that Camaro, which my granddad thought was a piece of junk, kept me out of trouble and brought me safely home although there were a few times I don’t remember how. This lasted all through my active military career, my time in college, and for a couple of years after I got married.

There are two chief reasons why guys are interested in sports cars. The first reason involves a love for speed and the second is to impress women. For the most part I did not give a damn about going fast; somehow I always seemed to attract the attention of highway patrolmen with a penchant for hassling goofy looking guys with me being the poster child. For me, my Camaro was about style and being cool, in other words I was only out to impress women.

However, over the years owning that car became less about picking up some chick and more about how it made me feel. There was an easy freedom and peace of mind while driving that car that now seems like a something from a dream I barely remember.Unfortunately, reality being the huge pain in the ass its likes to be my love affair with that car had to end but only after my wife got pregnant.

That was 1995 with my son, the future Darth Spoilboy, just a few months away from arriving on the scene. For several months my wife had been on my case about selling my Camaro and buying something more children friendly. I resisted the best I could remembering all the trips and adventures we had been through but after much convincing I finally realized the logic in my wife’s arguments and agreed to let her go. The two main reasons boiled down to a lack of space in the backseat to mount a baby carrier and the fact that I simply did not have the money needed to fix her up in the areas she needed some restoration. However, I just could not betray my four-wheeled lady so I left the selling of her to my wife.

The best way to sale a used car back then involved listing it in the “Carolina Trader”, a local classified advertisement paper with a very dedicated readership always looking for a bargain. My wife called the paper about my car on a Thursday with the advertisement appearing in the new edition on sale the following Monday afternoon around four o’clock. Some will no doubt think I am exaggerating but I arrived home from work about that time and the phone started ringing less than thirty minutes later. Right then I should have known something was very wrong.

“Hello sir,” the overly eager voice said from my phone, “I’m calling about the Camaro in the paper, is it still for sale?”

“Yeah,” I said suddenly feeling very depressed, “you’re the very first caller.”

“Does the car have any tires?” The disembodied voice asked instantly raising my suspicions that I was missing some important piece of information.

“Ah yeah, all four and they are close to brand new.” I said starting to feel irritated at his questions.

“Are you telling me the car is still drivable?” The voice asked at an increased pitch, so much the guy was starting to sound like a little girl.

“Dude, I just drove it home from work about twenty minutes ago. It drives fine.”

“I’ll be at your house in ten minutes with the money.” The voice said urgently before hanging up.

Luckily for me my wife arrived home about the same time the call ended. This allowed her to tell me what price she listed for my sweet Camaro because if the guy I had just finished talking with had tried to hand me a check for that ridiculously low amount then drive off with my car there would have been blood.

“You listed my car in the paper for three-hundred and fifty dollars!” I screamed at my wife feeling several blood vessels in my head about to explode.

To say reality broke down for me right then would have been a monumental understatement, my Camaro was not some rusted piece of junk sitting on cinderblocks it was still an operational and street worthy automobile. It had only two real problems, one being the paint job, which was extremely faded and scratched up, and the other was the ceiling headliner, which was in the process of coming unglued and falling down. The engine itself, the most important part still purred like the day I bought the car.

Circumstances being what they were I had little recourse because phone dude was true to his word and pulled up in my driveway just minutes after I learned what was going on. Matters were made worse after all three of us drove to a local bank to get sale paperwork notarized. I learned that a similar 1984 Camaro coupe in fair condition, like mine, should have sold for about fifteen-hundred dollars in 1995.

Call me immature and crazy but I was furious for weeks and if it had not been for my son who was due around November, to this day I am uncertain what I would have done. Nevertheless, as wise men like to say time did eventually heal that awful wound but it left a serious scar.

Fast forward to just this last December, my wife was in one of her moods and decided to reorganize the attic on a cold Saturday morning. Having learned my lesson after numerous issues with her instinctive need to move stuff around I carefully accounted for all my precious crap making sure it did not go missing. My son was not so lucky, a box containing his Legos and other toys from his early years ended up donated to the local Goodwill.  What upset my son in particular were the plastic toy soldiers that he had inside that box.

Darth Spoilboy over the course of the entire Christmas break brought up the fact that he had wanted to keep those toy soldiers. Now I mean no harm about this but my wife is not the sentimental type, if anything she is far more Vulcan than Spock when it comes to getting rid of anything she feels is useless and just taking up space. God help me, but there have been more than a few times she has given me a very curious look like she was contemplating the logic in kicking me out onto the street so I told my son to just suck it up.

Now this should be the end of my story except that my wife came home Saturday carrying several bags from her shopping trip that day and placed them on the kitchen table  I was lying on the couch dealing with a massive headache when I saw her pull a large plastic container out of one of her canvas shopping bags. I was blown away to see the words “five hundred toy soldiers” emblazed on the container and her unceremoniously carry it to my son’s room.

My face must have been showing the look of utter dismay I was feeling as she walked back out towards the kitchen. It was enough to stop her in her tracks and looked at me as if I was a simpleton. “Please grow up,” she said in a disgusted manor, “you’re not getting your Camaro back so get over it.”

The world felt extremely unfair at that moment, so what is a grown man to do? I went and made a batch of margaritas and spent the rest of the day silently toasting my first true love.


R W Rawles said...

This reminds me of the story about a Lawyer calling up his wife (long distance) and telling her he was divorcing her. She could keep the house, free and clear, he said. But would she please sell his Porsche (which he loved) and send him the money? She fulfilled the request, and put the car on the market. For $1.

lime said...

oh man, that's painful. if all she sold it for was $350 it's not like she even reaped trade-in value. big ouch. nice the soldiers came back but i can see why you needed to nurse the wound with margaritas.

i remember being about 9 or 10 and my mother selling the '68 red barracuda convertible she and my dad bought just before i was born. that's right. they bought it a month before they found out i was coming along. that was such a cool car. i was not happy when mom sold it.

Windsmoke. said...

When i first moved out of home to start my own family i was unable to take everything with me this included a collection of about one hundred Phantom comics. About two years later i went back home to collect 'em and you guessed it they weren't there mum had thrown them out without asking me so i wasn't a very happy chappy at all :-).

Mr. Charleston said...

Wow, we all have stories like that. For me, too many to recount but each of them just as infuriating. For the sake of keeping a good many of my blog buddies, I won't go any further.

Truth 101 said...

Sad day when you have to let go of your baby man.

I had a 73 Vega I bought a motor for and for whatever reason this thing was fast as hell. Won dozens of short drag races with it.

Blew the motor and towed it to the junk yard with my next baby. Three "babies" later I got my favorite baby. 68 Mustang. Just a six cylinder but ran okay and looked decent. Traded ot off for a fucking Mercury Bobcat and from that day forward I never felt free again.

Damn domestic life.

Ranch Chimp said...

No use in crying over spilt milk Bum ... I sold and done thing's that I later regreted, but got over it quick. Alot of course has to do with the blue book value, etc ... I'm not sure what your wife thought or her assessment and what price to sell for, her knowledge of vehicles, etc. I take it you dropped a new engine in it, had an overhaul of it, and/ or kept very low mileage on it(?) (I used "Slick50" oil in them dayz, one quart to the mix) If that is indeed the photo of it, it look's immaculate exteriorwise, at least well tended to. I would have been all over it like a cheap paint job at $350, I can tell you that. In Texas for instance when a car fall's into the 25 year old category, it is considered collectible material (dont even have to get standard inspection's or whatever here). But this is a good vehicle and the V-6 is a plus. In the early 80's for instance, many of the new 4 cylinder American made car's had many problemo's, in particular Ford's (not their truck's though) this was a transitionary period when they started using aluminum heavy in engine building, and started transverse mounting engine's, then of course the new electronic fuel injection's (only previously used in race type car's), Japan was really up on us in this era, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh ... American's used to laugh at Toyota's in the 1970's, in the mid 90's on, it was Japan's turn to laugh! Long story, but I love that car actually, back in them dayz a lil easier to work on as well, I had alot of old car's year's back, such as a late 78 or so Nova/ Chevy, that I could work on, on my lunch break and have it ready to drive after work as far as belt's hoses,thermo's, etc. the car's today are so cramped under the hood and you cant get to shit. Also in that era ... Ford for instance had patended their own tool's to work on car's, and also metric tool's started to be needed, I had to change a timing belt once on my 84 Tempo, had to buy a special tool only sold at the Ford shop (patended) just to get the bloody belt on and off, and get this, the gadget cost $75 buck's. Forgive me, I get carried away on this. Thanx for the read Bum ....

Ranch Chimp said...

PS: I meant in the "1980's" it was Japan's turn to laugh : )

My daughter these dayz is an assoc executive marketing coordinator for General Motors, and believe me, they have some car's about to come in 2014 that will blow the mind, as far as longevity and performance. I bitched about the bailout of them, but supported it only (a few years back if you recall) for the worker's ... but the bailout paid off. I also was upset at the time that GM China Division was exploding in production and sales and wouldnt foot anything to GM American Division I reckon too. Never expected my daughter to end up in her position, howver because of such she get's to fly all over the place to GM sponsored event's, attending the World Series, SuperBowl's, Nascar, etc ... great job, but too she stay's busy and on the road alot. I need to shut the Hell up, or I cant stop on these subject's!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

There is absolutely NO WAY I would ever move, sell, or discard any of my husband's stuff. (no matter HOW disgusting it is ...) In your wife's defense, if you'd agreed to sell the Camaro, you should have either done it yourself or at least told her what the asking price should be. Have you seen the new retro Camaros? I'd reeeeally like to get one of them, but I'm not sure about that cost. Still ...

John McElveen said...

LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!


Pixel Peeper said...

Funny how men refer to many of their cars as "females." I don't think women think of their vehicles as "males." Nothing wrong with it - just an observation.

Beach Bum said...

RW: Yeah, heard that one as well and I actually believe it is true.

Lime: Honestly, I know the car had to be sold but for someone like my wife who gets paid to be very accurate with numbers it really ticked me off.

Windsmoke: Funny you mentioned that, my wife had a collection of old fashioned LP records left at her parent's house and her dad tossed thenm in the trash on a whim. She found out about it a year of so after she sold my car. Karma can be a real bitch.

Mr. Charleston: LOL!!!
I was actually a little worried about how I wrote about getting mad with my wife. I was one upset puppy and pondered a lot of crazy thoughts for a couple of days after.

Truth101: You know I have wondered a couple of time if my wife sold my car so cheaply to put an end to that very feeling of freedom when I drove it.

But you are so right, there was nothing like driving that car and thinking about hitting the open road.

Ranch: Yeah, my grandparents had an old Nova which my uncles raced back before they got married.

I've talked to people about the same issue of a "special tool" to work on some cars. A buddy in the National Guard was a retired Buick tech and tried to to borrow one from a buddy still working for the dealership. The guy said sorry but it had to be locked up at night and signed out during the day. the business types wre afraid someone might copy it which would allow other techs to work on newer Buick models.

I hope GM can come back.

Susan: Yeah, I should not have left it to my wife but she is a a tax attorney and I felt she would have gotten a better deal on it.

John: Thanks buddy!

Pixel: I understand. I freely admit men are shallow creatures alway looking for some sort of love in various forms.

Randal Graves said...

Well, your wife *is* a lawyer, no? That's one of those technocrat positions, where everything can be plugged into a cost-benefit analysis, so in a way, this is your fault. Heh.

I ever come across a bitchin' Camaro in the paper, I'll shoot you an email.

Life As I Know It Now said...

Of course this is a story about a car and not a woman. My first clue was the title--true love. :)

goatman said...

I am glad she is your wife and not mine!!

goatman said...

Oh . . I recently sold my "65 goat for $4000 -- got tired of busting my knuckles.

Sherry said...

Even though I am a woman, I feel your pain. My true love was a 1974 Plymouth Duster. First car I ever owned. Yep, she saw me through many a hard knock back in the day. I was so loathe to part with her that I actually ran her until the gas tank fell off. Then after having it reattached, my then husband was driving it when someone decided to T-bone her. He survived until he acquired cancer, she didn't. I've never been the same since.

Beach Bum said...

Randal: Good points but overall she is just one huge buzzkill.

Life As We Know It: People come and go out of our lives but that first car always stays with you.

Goatman: What was the old line from Henny Yougman?

Sherry: Damn! Those Dusters were awesome. I'm sorry for your husband's passing.

goatman said...

"Take my wife . . . please"

That one?

okjimm said...

ha! my first car? Old Volkswagen back in the late 60's. hand painted it with a brush, put in new plywood floor. paid $100

I was glad to get rid of it.

Marja said...

lol that car truly is a fine lady but he nothing better than a real one. You spend some nice time with her (the car) so you got some good memories but now it's time to get over it :)

Glen said...

betrayed - for $350 MAn you let her down so badly - shame on you

Red Nomad OZ said...

Haha! When I saw the pic, I thought your true love was going to be a car!! No, wait - It WAS a car!!! Maybe you could trade those 500 toy soldiers for a stake in another Camaro??

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Vig makes me laugh.

My first; Z-28 Camaro, an accident of purchase but short life of wind in the face that still comes back to visit in my the Boston Whaler out at sea full throttle. Call the Z my "frikkin' monster" with his all Hurst 4 on the flr 26psi clutch. Remember Fry boots? I miss my topsiders, too. Now, old folkie surfer sandal leather flip flops. I LIVE IN FL DUDE. LOL Great post!