So it ain’t pretty. It’s a 2001 blue Ford Focus. It’s got rust starting to snake its way up the sides, black streaks of unknown origin permanently stuck along the front bumper, and broken hubcaps in desperate need of replacement. This is what I drive around the affluent neighbourhood full of BMW’s and Lexus’ that I happen to reside in.
How did this poor city girl end up with these wheels? Parents. More specifically, my mom. My dad has his own grey, Ford Tempo. That’s right. This middle ager isn’t too proud to take hand-me-downs from a couple of conservatives. I sometimes fantasize that my mom and dad have more elaborate taste, but alas, reality stares me in the face pretty much every day. I think I almost could have learned to love this car, but there are critics everywhere, starting right here at home with my very own children.
Whenever one of their friend’s is about to get into the car for a lift, the girls will alert them that our car smells. Every time. I don’t smell it. Honestly, I don’t. The kids, on the other hand, insist that it stinks. They immediately crack the windows. I’m not talking press a button with one finger and watch the window glide down type of cracking. I’m talking full-fisted, grab that arm and roll down the window type of cracking. Yes, the 1960’s feature choice made by my parents in the year 2001 when they purchased the car, new.
On the bright side, as far as I can tell, the guests don’t focus on any alleged stench. They’re too busy gaping while their hands fumble madly against the door as if they’ve suddenly lost the gift of sight. “How do you open your windows?” they manage to spit out. My kids glumly explain, “It’s not electronic. You have to use the handle.” For good measure they like to add “Right, Mom?” just in case their friends weren’t clear about who’s responsible for the pit of shame they must exist in.
I’m quick to remind them that cranking a window open and closed is good exercise, and that if the car ever loses power we will continue to have the luxury of being able to open and close our windows at will. At this point, I’m able to ignore the eye roll response altogether.
And you know, the window mechanism has held up. Given that the air conditioning is broken and has been ever since my parents presented me with the Ford, operational windows have been key to survival during hot Ontario summers. My mom has twice recounted to me the day she ran over a sharp piece of road debris on the highway and the A/C cut out, never to be repaired. And this was when the Ford was just a young thing. That’s probably around the time she began to shred each, individual hubcap by what I can only assume is due to a severe lack of parallel parking capability.
The old Focus just keep on going though. On longer trips my boyfriend likes to toy with the radio. He seems to think if he keeps at it the sound will magically improve. Until that happens (never), I’m quite certain he’ll continue to bitch about the poor sound quality and talk nasty to the CD player that sits in the dash, taunting him with the inaccurate ‘no CD’ message (another quirk inherited from my mother) whenever he gets up the courage to ram a disk in to see if the device has become unbroken overnight.
It’s often at this point that I mention a new vehicle would have a far superior and fully operational sound system. He hits eject, mumbles profanities and turns up the radio. In my head I’m having a cerebral tantrum. I’m 43! Aren’t I supposed to be in a nice vehicle? Aren’t I supposed to be with a guy that has a nice vehicle. Check that. That HAS a vehicle?
Yes, I can easily start to go down that road of self-pity. I can use the aging car and lack of a shiny new one to represent all of the frustrations I have about my life. Then, I recognize that this stinky, roll down window, hubcap busted, hot, rusty, crappy radio car has been a reliable beast and taken us to many a destination, allowing us to create some fond memories as a result. Recently, just to show its tenacity, this baby has sprung a leak in a radiator hose. No need for the $400 fix. I’m convinced it can take it. It’s all good. Life’s good. I’m gonna gamble, toss those dice, ride it out, just like my mom would.
Oh God, I’ve become my mother.