I bought my first car when I was 40 years old.
Why did I take so long to buy one?
I never had the desire to take on that responsibility. I currently have a car that takes up much of income that I never had to worry about in the past.
In my 14 years in Seattle I never felt the urge to buy a car. I didn't need one when I lived in the city and when I was in the suburbs I lived with a woman who was pretty generous in lending me her car the few times I actually needed it.
However, my GATT needed to get a new car and she wanted to keep the old one until all the insurance, registrations, and what not were paid off.
So she gave me her old car. This happened a month before we were to break up.
When I came to possess this car it was on its last legs.
The car was a 1985 Mercury Topaz, which was basically A Ford Tempo, which was a lower grade Ford Taurus. It was brown, the color of the piece of crap car it was. The car was noisy, the felt ceiling of the car was sagging down to the point where it reached the head of the driver of the car. The heat and AC of the car was shot. Soon after I moved out into my own apartment, the driver's door would not close properly, leaving me to drive with my left hand at the door, trying to prevent it from blowing out. All this while dealing with stick shift.
Anyway, I rarely drove the car. I was close enough to anyplace I needed to go. I only drove it to Costco to buy my bulk items.
When my relationship ended, I moved even closer to what I liked doing so almost never used the car. I would sometimes drive the car into the city to go dancing.
I could have taken the bus, but the late night buses were very slow and somewhat scary. Having a car was convenient even with the loose door, lack of heat and a felted ceiling that attacks you like "The Blob".
My routine was to go to Seattle on Saturday nights to either go to The Romper Room or a place called Polly Esther's. The Romper Room was a place I liked going to in the early 90's before I had dated my long term girlfriend. Polly Esther's was a chain of clubs that were popping up in the late 90's that played 70's music. They had a sister club called Culture Club that played 80's music. I thought this was an ideal environment for a shy single man in his early 30s trying to recover from a devastating breakup. The breakup was devastating because it involved a new man in my ex's life. A man she would marry barely a year after we had broken up. I had severed my ties to all our mutual friends. I was alone and I needed some diversion and this was it.
So.....where was I?
I was driving my brownmobile up to Seattle. It was a somewhat cold night for Seattle and I was wishing the heater was working. I was not sure which club I wanted to go to, Romper Room or Polly Esther's. The decision would be made up for me when I noticed steam coming from the hood of the car. I got off the next exit and parked the brownmobile in the nearest parking space I could find. It was closer to Polly Esther's, so in I went. I figure there was no need to worry about the car at that moment. Now, I liked going to Polly Esther's before 9:30 because there was no cover charge before 10.
Yeah I know... I am cheap, miser, loser asshole.
Anyway, since it's early I get a good sense of the crowd as they come in, to get the vibe of how cool the crowd was going to be. This night it wasn't happening. I decided before I went out that I wanted to get home before midnight. I wasn't drinking since my relationship ended because I didn't want to make embarrassing late night phone calls, so I was alert in my drive home, Red Bulls do that.
I stopped at the 7-Eleven to pick up some anti-freeze. I poured half the container in the radiator. I started the brown mobile and was on my way. I decide to take Rt 99 instead of I-5 just in case the car acted up again. Well, the car was driving along pretty well, I breathed a sigh of relief. I drove about 5 miles and as I relaxed the car heated up again. I pulled over and waited for the car to cool down. I put in the rest of the anti-freeze and was on my way again. I knew that it would be a matter of time before the car steamed up again. I was only able to go another 2 miles before puffs of steam started coming out. I didn't want to push it, so I parked at a 7-Eleven. I went in, looked at magazines, pretended to look at the candy section and basically trying to waste enough time to have my car cool down.
I bought a Slurpee and was able to fill my empty anti-freeze container with water from the faucet out side. I pumped the radiator full of water.
I was only able to go another 2.5 miles before I had to stop again. At this point the car was done. I just wanted to get the brownmobile home. I don't care about driving it again. I just wanted to get it into my parking space, but I was still more than 7 miles away. I pulled into an am pm store. I did the same thing that I did at the 7-Eleven except I had run my course of magazine reading. I was borderline creepy at this place. I tried looking at the beer section but by now it was past 2am and beer sales were forbidden as the dutiful clerk reminded me. After an hour, I bought a Pseudo Slurpee (It's tough to do clever alliterations when the first letters of each words are different) and bought some water to pur in my radiator and was on my way.
I figured an hour wait would be good enough to get me home but no dice. I drove another 2 miles, another 7-Eleven,, another hour wait, another 2.5 miles, a Jack-In-The-Box, an hour plus wait, I'm now about a mile and a half from my place. I figured I could take a chance and drive the car all the way home.
I decided instead to walk to my place, get some more water from my apartment, walked back to the car and filled the radiator. Enough time passed, I drove the car into my parking space with puffs of steam just coming out of the hood. It was now 4am and I never drove the car again.
Weeks later my ex called. She had this annoying habit of keeping tabs on me after our breakup. It was annoying because it was never for a booty call. Well, she asked about the car. I told her about what happened and told her it was gathering dust in my parking space.
She told me she would take it off my hands and sell the car for scrap. Her father looked at the car and found out the radiator had a huge hole in it.
It would be another 7 years before I had another car, another 8 before I bought one. I tell you, I'm happier and I feel more free without one.
The lesson learned: 7-Eleven needs to expand its magazine collection.