The car is black and the paint, oxidized from months or maybe years of neglect, only shines in a few places. Inside, the dashboard is covered in a thin layer of dust, covering once shiny plastics. The backlight on the radio only works about half of the time, and when I drive at night I must guess which track is playing. The manual transmission shifts smoothly, but a small engine combined with tall gears means the acceleration leaves something to be desired. I think the car is asking for help, it seems to need a friend. Older cars ask more clearly, more obviously. They creak and groan, stutter and miss. Gears grind, doors squeal, and everything rattles. This one left the lot just ten years ago, new car smell and all. It's still a bit too proud to groan. I am a sucker for little funny-looking cars that need attention. Some cars, like the Taurus, don't inspire any sort of pathos. When they break, they stop, not looking sad like a broken Beetle does, or vaguely mean like old muscle cars do. It seems they really do just give up the ghost and head to car heaven. I don't think a Taurus sitting in a junkyard will ever elicit the pangs of nostalgia and desire that even the oldest, rustiest GTO can.
I'm not sure if it is by design that cars become "basic transportation," or if simply public reaction steals their souls, but it seems sad. Every car is built with some semblance of a soul, and if it was never loved, never though of as someone's sacrifice, someone's project, someone's baby, that soul gradually fades. I think that happens to people, too. Some people never get the attention they deserve or maybe weren't made for attention to start out with. Religion lets everyone believe that they are at least one person's project, and that saves a lot of souls from fading away. Some people don't get that either, and they become these empty shells, just doing their job, just going through the motions. Little by little they lose the sense that they belong to something bigger and that they are worth something more, so their resale value drops.

I hope I never feel like I am basic transportation. I hope nobody does.


Natalie Jane said...

you really do love cars.
and i think the man you're describing is Fred Jones, who ben folds sings about. you'll never be Fred Jones. Don't worry.

Natalie Jane said...

well, lets go wUsh it.

austinmcraig said...

You, my friend, like any Hot Rod, will only become more classic as time challenges you're staying power.