This morning, someone on CNBC made a comment about American car customers being fickle. I didn’t recognize him, and that doesn’t really matter. Sometimes, I think the talking heads that flash on and off the television don’t know what comes out of their mouths most of the time, running a bit like someone who is in the throes of intestinal distress and searching for a bathroom.
I immediately disagreed, knowing I would fail to qualify for fickleness. I’ve had a love affair with Hondas since 1975 when I purchased a brand spanking new Civic hatchback with a “Hondamatic” transmission. I was 19 years old. I loved that car and the responsibility of making my $84.75 monthly payment. I think it was the first time I actually began to feel like an adult with something that belonged specifically to me.
There was a period where I was Honda-less, though. I had a Jeep CJ-5 before Chrysler or whomever bought the company turned them into something that only looked like a Jeep. It was fun for a while. I learned how to drive a stick, let some air out of the over-sized tires and blast up the side of a giant sand dune — my hair bandana flapping in the hot breeze, my bikini clad skin darkening by the minute.
I never quite fit the role of desert rat I was introduced to by my first husband, but it was what lured me away from Hondas for a few years. I could talk about things like leaf springs, and 4-wheel drive traction. I slept in a tiny tent in desolate areas, and drove around without doors attached to the side of my Jeep on warm days. I visited shops that smelled of grease and sparkled with chrome rims and exhaust pipes. I also spent time stuck in the middle of nowhere with flat tires, cracked radiators, and broken u-joints. That’s what happens when a vehicle purchased for everyday use is thrashed about on days off and vacations. The two don’t exactly mix.
It was interesting while it lasted, but I sadly divorced the Jeep. The radiator fan finally spinning off its track, I left it in a parking lot where a customer asked if he could buy it for his son. I said yes, and watched as one of the more interesting parts of my life was towed away, its new teen-aged owner grinning ear to ear, leaving me with mixed memories.
And then I bought another Honda.
At that point, my two older boys were about five and six, and because the four-door gently used Civic made a strange noise when it was in high gear and reaching a particular speed, we named it the ST, for “Silver Tornado.” It served quite a few important years getting me to and from work, to SDSU to finish my abandoned degree, and my boys to and from school, and visits with their dad. I have warm memories of our very own type of “car talk” revolving around the world they viewed from their backseat positions: trees, hills, clouds…and water towers. When I think of the topics now, they’re all that can be seen when you’re a small human seatbelted deep into a car. Such very cute little boys.
I miss them now that they’re grown.
After I finished my credentialing program and the MoH and I married, we were able to leave behind our string of cheap apartments and purchase a condominium, creating a new home for our composite family. Having a good monthly salary instead of the once a week check I squeezed while in school soon allowed me to donate the old ST to the local high school auto shop, and purchase a shiny new teal Honda Accord with a luxurious creamy interior and automatic windows. Automatic transmission. A moon roof.
I thought I’d arrived.
Although my two older boys had many years in that Honda, too, it quickly became the RT’s car. His place to drip milk from his car seat, and then drop French fries from Happy Meals in cracks where I’d find them petrified weeks later. His car to sit in more quietly since his brothers were so much older and often not in the car with him. His space to have books and cars, rocks, and odd seeds he’d collect at school, calling them army men. The creamy upholstery slowly began to age, the relentless sun in Paradise scorching it to the point where it would soon tear.
So with a mere 11,500 miles on its not quite 10 year old engine, I sold it to one of my son’s friends and bought another Honda: an Acura 3.2 TL which still sits in my driveway today.
The plan was to give it to the RT when he was old enough to drive, and although that time is rapidly approaching, I’m not quite ready to give up my car. Yes, there are dings in the sides of it from careless people in parking lots and students slinging backpacks over their shoulders in a hurry to get home. The carpet is beginning to wear in spots as well. I tire of the dust showing more quickly than it would on a lighter color, but I like it. I like the idea that its reliability and comfort holds the remaining couple of years of driving my youngest here and there — he with his iPod earbuds in, me forgetting that when I want him to notice something out the window, forcing him to politely pull them out of his ears to listen to his mother.
No, I think I’ll hold on to this the last of my Hondas. It has a few more memories left in it.
And then I’ll talk the MoH into one.
April 10, 2012 — I am now the owner of a light blue MINI Cooper with a white top and the Acura I enjoyed for so many years now resides with the MoH’s parents who I hope are enjoying its comfortable ride. I have to say driving the MINI does remind me a bit of tooling around in my first little Honda Civic — the small one with the hatchback. I suppose this makes me fickle, but I’d say that considering 34 of the 38 years I’ve been driving I’ve owned a Honda, I can’t be too fickle.