Reliving the ghosts of bad cars past

My sister called me from Kentucky to tell me she was driving home in a new(ish) car.

It was the first time she was able to buy a car all by herself, with no loans or help from my parents.

I told her congratulations and shared in her excitement of being able to buy and afford a car that she wanted and liked.

But talking to her started my reminiscing machine and got me thinking about all the cars in my past. I was always excited when I got them and always just a little relieved when I got rid of them.

My first car was a 1989 Mercury Tracer hatchback. Ah, what a beautiful dead-carcass brown color it was. Complete with a tape player and seat belts for three of the four seats.

But oh the freedom it gave me. I could leave school for lunch, I could get to work in the rain and stay dry and most importantly, I could offer cute girls without cars rides home.

So like the first week I brought it to school, I'm leaving school after yearboo ... weightlifting, and I see this very attractive sophomore walking home.

Time and college have erased most of my memory, but I believe her name was Amy Von crazyhorribleshallowpersonthatIstillhaven'tforgiven.

So I pull up in my sweeeeeet ride and ask her if she needs a lift. Several minutes later, after it starts to rain and I promise not to talk the whole ride home, she agrees.

Oh, did I forget to mention the best part of this car? It would violently shake every time it shifted gears.

Not the "your mom gently nudges you awake" kind of shaking, but more the violent "grandma won't wake up and you wanna make sure she's really passed on this time" kind of shaking.

So, Amy gets in, thankful to be out of the rain and we pull out of the parking lot.

Amy: "Whoa Jarid, I didn't know you had a car."

Jarid: "Yeah, it's a four cylinder. Did you see the tape deck? That's cherry."

Amy: "Say, you wanna go ou ..." WAAAAA BOOM.

"What the hell was that?"

Jarid: "That, oh it was nothing, the car just shakes a little when you shift. No big deal. So you were saying?"

Amy: "Oh my god, that's creepy, let me out, now."

Thus began my existence with automobiles. My Mercury Tracer and I were inseparable.

She " I named my car Lurleen because she was a little bit redneck, but still classy " got me through two years of high school and several trips back and forth to college in Nebraska.

When I finally traded her in, I was a little relieved. Especially after the mechanic told me she was within days of actually falling apart.

"Someone still drive's that thing?" I believe was his exact wording.

But Lurleen provided me with a valuable lesson, she taught me that while automobiles can enhance your life, they can also pretty royally screw you over.

It would be a lesson that would be reinforced many times.

In college, I had a roommate whose car would only start if he didn't have somewhere to be.

Going to the gym? Starts right up.

Going to court? He had a better chance of me carrying him than getting that car working.

There was the car that had a radio that would only work if it was above 55 degrees, which it doesn't do for like 7 months in Nebraska.

Or how about the GMC Jimmy I had where the brake lights, turn signals and dashboard lights intermittently stopped working.

Do you know how hard it is to offer cute girls rides when you have to roll down the window and use hand signals? That repels them almost as well as telling them you took yearboo... uh, weightlifting classes in high school.

It's gotten to the point where I begin to see problems with cars, even new cars. I can't even help it anymore, it's automatic.

So, while I was happy that my sister got a new car, I was slightly freaked out when she told me it had cruise control.

Oh, your car has cruise control?

That's nice sis, hope you enjoy it.


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