Before my days at my first steady job, I babysat a lot of neighborhood munchkins. Each weekend babysitting job between the ages of 12 and 15, I’d spend a little of my hard earned money and save a little. I was saving up for one thing I dreamt about since turning 12: my first car.
I secretly hoped when I turned 16, my parents would surprise me with the ’94 yellow Ford Mustang (with black leather interior and a spoiler) I’d been eyeing for what seemed like my entire life.
Instead, on my 16th b-day, I got a toy model of a yellow Mustang. How cruel.
Regardless, I was determined to get my own set of wheels, so as soon as I got my license, I scoured the local classifieds until I spotted something I could afford. After a couple test-drives, I found what would soon become my most prized possession: a white 1991 Buick Regal. The year was 2000, so I thought I was getting a steal on a car that wasn’t quite 10 years old.
I’m sure it was the car of its day, complete with leather seats, a tape player, a digital speedometer and plenty of room for friends. I had worked hard to pay for it, but didn’t even think twice when I shelled out the $1,200 because it paid for something that was priceless at the time: FREEDOM from the parental units.
I quickly decorated the car to reflect my quirky 16-year-old style: I had cow-inspired seat covers, a smiley face dangling from my rearview mirror and countless vending machine stickers lining the inside of my car. I’m sure I thought I was the coolest chick on the road.
It wasn’t long after getting the car that things started going wrong. The heat stopped working. The air didn’t ever work. The door sometimes got stuck and one of the power windows didn’t go down. Out of frustration, I started calling the car Mussolini.
I drove Mussolini for nearly 2 years, until one day he sighed his last breath in a scary grand finale.
The engine frame attached to the bottom of the car snapped, which made me loose my power steering and sent me gliding across opposing traffic on the busiest road of my hometown (Grand River!!!! to those in the know). Thankfully, traffic was coming slow due to a light, but my near 18 years on the planet definitely flashed before my eyes.
I walked, crying my eyes out in defeat, to a nearby Arby’s to call my mom and the police from a pay phone (only the cool kids had cell phones at that time). A nice police officer drove me home as they towed Mussolini off for good. I let the cow seat covers go with him since it felt only right. It was the end of an era.
Although it really was just a piece of junk, I look back on that first car with many fond memories. It not only represents my first taste of freedom, but also brings to mind so many other firsts: kisses with boys, nights out with my girlfriends, driving to concerts and hanging out in the parking lot after school.
I’d love to hear from you – what was your first car?
This was written in conjunction with Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop. I chose prompt #3 about my first car.