My first car was a 1991 Honda Civic, a basic model that was so bare-bones it didn’t have automatic anything. There was no cupholder, not even a clock.
But at 16-years-old, after sharing a car with my mom for six months, I didn’t care. I had originally wanted a newer model Civic, one that wasn’t already six years old and didn’t look like a box-like white cube. My father told me, however, that I should feel lucky to even get a car. He, after all, drove a 1931 Model A Ford, a basic model business coupe as his first car when he was in high school in the late 1960s.
When I was learning to drive, my dad would take me to the parking lot at our neighborhood school on the weekend to practice. I think that was more stressful on him than it was on me. But I can still hear his motto — the same his dad told him; that a car was “to get you from point A to point B safely and as reliably as possible.”
“Anything else is just icing on the cake,” he always said.
That’s something that has stuck with me through the years.
I drove that first Honda Civic through the rest of high school, all of college and grad school. I tried to make it mine: In high school I used a portable CD player Walkman and Velcro-ed it onto my dashboard so that I could play CDs. I bought an after-market cupholder that screwed onto the emergency brake so that I’d have somewhere to put my drinks. And I bought a tiny clock and adhered it to the area where a digital clock would have gone, if the factory had installed one.
The car wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t pretty. But for seven years, it got me from point A to point B, safely and reliably, only breaking down once.
In 2004, however, the air conditioning died. It was going to cost more to fix than what the car was worth. While finishing up graduate school, I bought another used Honda, which I’d drive for another seven years. Then, when I was a married mother of two with a third child on the way, we bought another used Honda, a minivan.
But always, in the back of my mind when I’m thinking about cars, I hear my dad’s voice, telling me “from point A to point B.”
Last week, I took my 9-year-old daughter out one evening after dinner to buy a new book she was asking for and we got frozen yogurt afterward as a special treat. As she climbed out of the back seat of our minivan in the parking lot of the yogurt shop, she froze.
OMG!” she shouted. “I WANT THAT CAR.”
In front of her was parked a late model Chevrolet Camaro painted metallic gold. It wasn’t just painted a normal gold. It was almost foiled gold, looking like it had been dipped in 14K.
“Is that real gold?” my daughter asked in awe. I told her no.
“Can we get our van painted like that?” she asked.
When I laughed and said no, she told me that one day, when she turned 16, she was going to get a gold sports car like that.
I just laughed. But then, I got to thinking. It’s only five short years until my daughter is eligible for a driver’s permit — six years before she gets her license. I’m hoping by then the metallic gold Camaro will be long forgotten, and that we can instill in her our long-held family belief of reliable, used cars to get from “point A to point B.”
But I also know that 16 will come quickly. Too fast, for me.
— Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama. Reach her at email@example.com.