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.