Thursday, March 12, 2015

Desde El Coche Ach Gretel

A student asked me yesterday whether our old car had a name and I said no. But I was not thinking clearly. Somewhere along the way, I started calling it simply El Coche (The Car). This was the subject line of numerous family emails, whether it was to report where I had parked it so that Pam could retrieve it later in the day or to pass along "medical" information about the latest repair.

Our 2004 Saturn LW300 was our first station wagon, and it was the last Saturn station wagon sold in southern New England. I know this because on the day we bought it -- after about 90 seconds of shopping -- other dealers were trying to get it from our friends at Saturn of Raynham. (Since disbanded, as GM turned its back on the entire Saturn experiment with modern business practices.)
When I took this, a certain song by Sinead came to mind, though in our case the parting was on good terms.
It was our second new car purchase, the first having been a 1993 Saturn SL. (Most people were aware of SL1 and SL2 in those days, but the SL was a graduate-student special that could not even afford a digit.) We got more than a decade and more than 200,000 miles out of each.
Nobody who saw El Coche had any doubt that it was ours, and this window was often a conversation starter. We put a bit of our identity into this car, and did not mind the repairs it required in later years.
Of course it would be irresponsible to cover the right-side window with stickers, but we did have just one, reflecting our preference for good coffee over evil coffee. When photographing this sticker, I decided there should be one "group photo" -- however oblique -- of El Coche with his replacement.
I don't want to trivialize genuine grieving -- of which we have had some in our family recently -- with mere nostalgia, but I noticed something interesting when I took this photograph. I apologized to the tow-truck driver for interrupting the proceedings, but he stepped back respectfully, and his manner reminded me very much of a respectful funeral director.
I seriously doubt that Gretel will ever bear as many stickers and other markers of our family Gestalt as El Coche did, but I noticed that Pam did already make this minimalist statement on the new (to us) wagon.
And now we have a different song, this one by Janice, stuck in our heads pretty much all the time.