Saturday, July 12, 2008

In Which I Drive A Buick

This is another installment in the "First Time" event series. I'll be talking about my first car.

Due to my parents being over-protective, I didn't start taking my driver's education course until my senior year in high school. While it was hard to see all my friends driving around on their own already, I was already pretty used to not being as cool as them. I swallowed my pride, got my learner's permit, and drove around with my parents for a couple of months until I could send away for my license.

By the time I received the notice that I was scheduled for my driver's test, I was a few months into my freshman year of college. I skipped a day of classes to head back home for my test. Despite being a bundle of nerves, I passed with flying colors and got my license on the first try. I couldn't afford a car, but at least I had a license to drive one. This was in November, and I would remain without my own set of wheels for another couple of months.

In March, my father got a new car. Knowing that I was itching for a car, he offered me his old one. Even though it was a little run down and wasn't much to look at, I jumped at the chance. They wouldn't let me have a car on campus, but when the semester let out, it was all mine. Here is an example of what my car looked like:


I was the proud owner of a 1991 Buick LeSabre. It looked almost exactly like the car in the picture, so much in fact that I thought it was my actual car. The paint was fading and chipping in more spots than I could count, and it looked like it belonged to someones grandparents. All it needs is an afghan and some screen-printed hats on the back ledge, I would joke, and it'd look like ol' Grandpa Geezer's car. In my feeble attempts to make my car seem less "old", I hung my graduation cap tassel from the rear view mirror, and shined up every square inch of chrome I could find. I washed it weekly, and waxed it as often as I could. I upgraded the speakers, so when I blasted my music it would sound halfway decent.

What this car didn't have in looks, though, it made up for in other ways. It had all leather seats, power everything, and there was more room in the truck than any Mafia hitman would ever need. The engine was a responsive and efficient V6, and could get up and go very quickly. The ride was very smooth, almost like you were gliding over the road. It handled like a dream, and there was more power under the pedal than I probably should have had. I loved this car, but refused to give it a name. My parents called it "Thugger" (I'll let you decide why), but I referred to it simply as "The Buick".

I've always been a responsible driver, but the ancient appearance of The Buick got me out of a couple of situations that could have resulted in a ticket. Two incidents come to mind, really. The first being the time when I ran a red slight, squealed my tires, and fishtailed around a corner... all in front of the County Sheriff. I expected him to pull me over, having violated three traffic laws, but when I was on the shoulder of the road, license and registration in hand, he drove right past me.

The next incident was when I was in a hurry to get home from my younger sister's graduation ceremony. The 64 ounce beverage I had consumed was crowding my bladder, and I needed to relieve some pressure. Too concerned about not pissing myself, I drove by a pair of State Police squad cars parked in a break in the center median, cruising at a cool 87 miles per hour. The posted speed limit? 45 mph. One of the Troopers pulled out and headed towards me, and I hit the brakes. Before I could get any slower than 35 mph, the Trooper was behind me, roof-lights flashing. As I moved over to the side of the road, he whipped around to my left side. Slowing down just enough to shake a finger at me and mouth the words "Slow Down", he surged ahead and down the road. Needless to say, I respectably drove the speed limit the rest of the way home.

I was allowed to take The Buick with me to college the next fall. I was working part-time at home on the weekends, so I needed to have transportation. It was also nice to have a means to get away from campus when I needed to. The girl I dated that year (who will later become known as The Boss) thought my love for my car was amusing. She said she was never embarrassed to be seen in my car, but that's probably because her car was more of a piece of crap than mine was. There were many dates between her and I that The Buick was part of.

I drove The Buick for just under a year before it died. One of the piston seals burst while on my way to class one morning, and that was it. No struggle for breathe, no feeble attempts at forward motion... It was simply and irreparably dead. It rested in a 7-11 parking lot until it was towed away, and was later purchased for $200 because the tires still had some tread on them.

For my first car, I don't think I could of had anything better. Even though I might have complained about its appearance, it suited the need and I grew to love the car more than I thought was possible. I still miss it from time to time, but deep down inside... I'm glad I drive something now that looks like its from the same decade.

12 Comments:

Lola said...

Did you have one of those tennis balls stuck on your antenna, like all the old guys around here? They all seem to drive Buicks, and they wear one hat, while they have more hats on the ledge in the back.
I love that shit.

First car 101, make it look like an old man is behind the wheel. It excuses a multitude of sins when the cops are around. Your parents are very smart people.

Badass Geek said...

Lola: Nope, no tennis balls on my antenna. I know what you mean, though. I thought about getting one of those bobble-head dogs for the back ledge, though. Right next to the plastic canvas and yarn tissue box.

Daddy Files said...

Hey Bad Ass,

I'm a newcomer here and I really like your writing. And as a fellow New Englander with an affinity for visiting central Maine, I'm glad I stumbled onto the site from your comments at Dad Gone Mad.

And for the record, my first car was a 1983 Pontiac Parisienne with a far too powerful V8 engine for a 16-year-old. Ah memories...

Badass Geek said...

Daddy Files: Hey, man! Thanks for stopping by... always glad to meet a fellow New Englander. So long as you like the Pats and the Sox, I think we'll get along just fine.

I grew up in central Maine, is Auburn to be exact. Interesting place, central Maine...

Shamelessly Sassy said...

My first car was a salvaged white camaro without air conditioning. I called it 'The White Princess'.

Daddy Files said...

BAG: I used to go camping every year in North Monmouth, ME and loved it. But yes, there are quite a few...well...let's just call them "characters" there.

And no worries on the Sox/Pats front. I'm a longtime fanatic and my son came home from the hospital in a Sox jersey. And now that he's big enough, he fits into his shirt that says "I Can't Even Walk Yet & I Already Hate the Yankees."

Gotta raise em right...

Heather said...

My first car was a Pheonix which I can't even remember who made them. Pontiac maybe? I didn't drive it long because it sucked and my mom sold it. Then I drove my mom's old Lebaron for a while til it crapped out too. I've never owned a brand new car and probably never will.

Badass Geek said...

Shamelessly Sassy: What a nice name for a car that seems like it was probably a little rough around the edges.

Daddy Files: Maine is host to some strange characters everywhere you turn. Its all part of its charm, I guess.

Heather: I've never owned a new car, either. The newest car I've had is the one I'm driving now... and its 10 years old.

moonspun said...

I was JUST having a discussion on Friday with officemates about how Buicks are associate with old people. And someone said, "yeah, but they ride so nicely." Your description made me think of that immediately.
Can the next installment of first be "When the Boss and I first got down in the Buick." Puh-lease?! :-)
My first car was a Chevy Nova. Her name was Maggie. I loved her beyond words and cried when they towed her away after I donated her for parts. I'll have to post on it someday. I've got stories....

Badass Geek said...

Moonspun: Unless you are Tiger Woods, Buicks do tend to be old-people cars. They do ride nicely, and if I could afford one, I'd get a Lucerne or an Enclave. And sadly, The Boss and I never "got down" in The Buick. We started dating in the winter time, and the leather seats would have been too cold for bare assedness. The Buick died before it got warm enough.

You drove a Chevy Nova? What year? I love the classic Nova's.

moonspun said...

Badass...ah there goes my fantasy...
My chevy nova as a 1986 (I bought it in 1990 when I was 23 and a year out of college). She was the unexciting boxy looking kind, but navy blue, my favorite color at the time and had a Toyota engine, so she was very reliable. Until the oil pan crack came along...

Badass Geek said...

Moonspun: The 1980's era Nova is basically what killed it. Chevy tried selling it down in Mexico, but it turns out that Nova means "No go" in Spanish. Wonder why no one wanted to buy one.

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