Cookin', Critters and Chillun

Where cars go to die

A Nova of indeterminate age sat dripping melted snow, its windshield pocked by what appeared to be bullet holes.

The license plate read, in part, “Rebel,” but it looked as though its rebellious days were over.

The car was on the back lot of a towing business in Salem. Next to the Nova were a dozen or so vans, pickup trucks, a red Grand Am, a stored boat – and my husband’s pearl white Hyundai.

Bill’s car looked fine from the back. But from the right front side, a headlight dangled like crows had pulled a road-kill rabbit’s eye from its socket.

As quickly as we could, we gathered the kinds of things our cars tend to collect: three umbrellas, two lawn chairs in the trunk, a couple of beach mats, a box of car necessities with jumper cables escaping like ivy in July; maps, a neck pillow, sunglasses, extra napkins and plastic utensils. You know, “stuff.”

Bill had to go back later to retrieve the license plates before our insurance company sent someone to tow the Hyundai to the shop where its fate will be decided.

Two weeks ago while Bill was on his way to work in Roanoke, a driver had pulled out from a side street between two cars in the right lane on Apperson, and smack! We don’t know yet whether the insurance company will decide the vehicle is totaled.

What we left behind with the car were memories, and the University of Georgia Dawgs bumper sticker I couldn’t peel off.

It wasn’t like the car had lived with us for years and years, not like my 1965 Dodge Dart. The Dart was my first car, the car I drove to my first job, the one I had when we got married and the one I raised three children in. I used to carry dairy goats to the vet in the back seat of the little two-door car. And dogs, and cats.

It was my special car. And I cried when we had to let it go, because the tie rod was worn out, the speedometer cable had let go, and that was before Internet searches could turn up needed parts in some far-off state.

Bill’s car was just a white Hyundai, one that a heavy smoker had driven and infused with an aroma rain brought out. It was too small for his 6-foot-frame, and the driver’s door wouldn’t stay open on a slant. The passenger window wouldn’t roll down. It wasn’t the most comfortable passenger seat.

And it hadn’t been with us long enough for me to love it.

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