Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ode to Peg

I've owned three cars in my life. The first was Molly, a two-tone 1982 blue Ford Escort wagon with a broken speedometer and no heat blower. I had to scrape Michigan ice off the outside and inside every time I drove it, except in the summer, when the absence of air conditioning became my chief concern.

My current car is a yellow Ford Escape called, affectionately, The Short Bus. Please don't flame me; I didn't come up with the name. (For the uninformed, some genius in the U.S. public school system thought it would be fun to further stigmatize special-education kids by making them ride a bus half the length of a regular schoolbus. As a bonus, it made the rounds later than the regular buses so when it finally arrived at school everyone could look out and see exactly who "rode the short bus.")

In between Molly and The Short Bus was Peg, my white Ford Festiva. (See a pattern here? Dad worked as an automotive engineer for Guess What Company! Fortunately he wasn't one of those "boo-ya-Ford-RULES!" fist-pumping dads, like those weirdos who sport cartoons of Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes peeing on the logo of a competing car company; I just stuck with Fords because the "A Plan" gave me a cut-rate deal on cars without having to haggle at a dealership. *shudder*)

I acquired Peg in a most unorthodox way. It was 1991. Molly was on the outs and it was time for a new (used, a.k.a. pre-owned) car. Dad and I set aside a day to look at vehicles he'd spotted in the Tradin' Times. I hopped in his car and he handed me the classifieds so I could see which ads he'd circled. As we rolled down the driveway, I could feel my face fall. Oh no. What's this? A Renault Le Car? You've got to be kidding. Further down: an El Camino? No way. A Brat?? What the hell... a Pinto?! Oh my god. Dad, I know you're stingy er cheap er budget-minded, but don't Pintos explode when tapped from the rear? Isn't that why you got rid of your own Pinto?

Suddenly he hit the brakes. "Forgot something." He rolled up the driveway in reverse and commanded me to jump out and grab his thing-a-ma-jiggy from the garage. I opened the garage door and there, in all its gorgeous, glossy glory, was a brand new white Festiva. The rest of my family was standing around it, laughing and pointing at me for actually thinking I was doomed to El Caminodom. (I'm alarmingly gullible for someone who is otherwise pretty smart. Either that or my family lies really, really well.)

I was completely thrilled. It didn't matter that the car had no tape or CD player, no air conditioning, no power anything. It was clean, it was new, it worked, and it was mine. My parents had actually bought me a car. Isn't that every kid's fantasy? I had just graduated from college so I was no kid, but even working three part-time jobs at once didn't give me enough $$ for a new car. Dad told me it cost something like $6600. New. This was the '90s, not 1978.

The best part: the top speed on the speedometer was 85 mph. 85.

My friend Julie named my new car Peg for its practical, zippy personality. If Peg could speak she'd have an accent like Marge Gunderson in Fargo. Yah, sure, alrighty then. I fell in love with Peg and drove her everywhere. I took her to grad school, then back to Michigan after I finished my degree and got my first faculty job there. I finally gave her up in 2002 at the urging of none other than Dad, who admitted that he'd set me up with the auto-safety equivalent of a McDonald's ashtray and thought it would be wise for me to upgrade. I don't think he counted on me driving Peg for 11 years when he first picked her out. He probably thought it a little unbecoming for a professional woman to drive an 11-year-old Festiva.

But I'm not alone in my fondness for what I always thought of as an enormous Chiclet on wheels. I recently learned that there are Festiva clubs populated by people who have souped up their "Festies" and "'Stivas." One guy put a 240 hp motor in his. A bunch of Canadians hold yearly Festy races. How does anyone win if they're all topping out at 85 mph? Easy, just make 'em drive on ice.

Ahhhh, such a fun car. But I'm sure I'll be saying that about The Short Bus in another 7 years.


Blogger mireille said...

My "Peg" was a 1972 Toyota Corona. I loved that car, right up to the night my exhusband totalled it, as we were having an argument. I just about said I would much rather the car had survived, but caught myself just in time. Bad carma. Get it? xoxo

2:44 PM, July 26, 2006  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

M -- LOL! (At the carma joke, not at the accident. I hope you weren't harmed.)

3:38 PM, July 26, 2006  
Blogger Jonniker said...

HA! I love Peg. My most-beloved car was a Suzuki Samurai that was so tiny, so unsafe, I used to joke that it was made of cream cheese.

9:18 AM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger PFG said...

Since shared cars (which came into the marriage with ex-husband) probably shouldn't count, I'm still driving my first car, who is a blue ford contour (yeah Michigan purchase) named Mo.

10:48 AM, July 27, 2006  

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