My first car was tiny and I called her Bella. Although I bought her brand new, she was so tiny that I couldn’t stand the ribbing and traded her in a year later for a different, used car. This one I also called Bella, in the spirit of Victorian families who called every maid Bridget whether or not that was her name.
The second Bella was troubled. She required several head gasket jobs and new engines. Most alarmingly, her front bumper somehow split (did someone hit me when I was parked? I’ll never know since Bella’s lips are sealed… unlike her bumper). Day by day this split widened until it is somewhat fjordous and I fear it will completely split into two.
At one point there was a third car in my life. It would have been Bella as well, but it only lasted a millisecond. During one of Troubled Bella’s downtimes, as I contemplated whether to give her a new engine or not, I bought a used car for $500 that didn’t pass smog. Rather than swiftly returning it to its previous owner, I spent money to make it pass smog. Those repairs somehow affected the car’s already dicey acceleration ability, and I found myself trying to merge onto the freeway at 45 mph. A couple death-defying episodes and I went back to the smoggers and had them undo whatever they did to make it pass smog. It didn’t make things better. Reluctantly, I had to conclude I had screwed up. I tried to sell the car but could get no takers. Finally, I turned to garages who might buy it for its parts and one place offered me $1. I kid you not. One dollar. And this information was delivered without even the suggestion of a guffaw. Dead serious. I found a place that would give $100 and delivered the car up with a sense of relieved disgust. I had spent, in the brief month I owned it, $500—plus the $500 to purchase it. Bad Bella!
But all that has changed.
There is a new car in my life now, and it’s not a female.
It’s Lewis Charles Honda III, and I love him dearly. Lewis has incredible gas mileage and low emissions. Lewis handles like a dream; he practically steers himself! Lewis has not only working air conditioning… but MAX air conditioning which is even colder. Shiver! He likes to play CDs, whereas Bella only let me play my pirates cassette. His windows go up and down with the press of a button; no more pesky circular hand motions. His cologne is Eau de Nouveau Voiture. He has lots of airbags from all sorts of angles and the dashboard display is a lovely purple halo. I press a button to pop the trunk. I tuck Lewis in for the night with a Club grasped in his sleepy steering wheel because he is desired by other drivers. He is in fact the #1 stolen car in America, my dealer informed me after I’d signed everything.
Of course he is: he’s a valuable, lovely boy. And fissured Bella is sitting out on used car row with a Sale sign in her back window. I do feel bad, but she shouldn’t have asked me to make those endless expensive repairs, and she knows that.