There are people who very much identify with their cars. I am not among them.
I have a very basic silver Civic, the same one I’ve had for 10 years. And I swear to you, I will still occasionally try to open the wrong car. And then I notice that it doesn’t have a baby seat in the back.
Some of it, I think, is that I am just so in my head so much of the time. But candidly, cars just don’t interest me. There are so many other things to pay attention to in the world.
When I was dating, this car obliviousness worked against the men who try to impress you with their cars. I mean, if they had a car they were obviously proud of, I’d be all complimentary. And features like butt warmers impress me no end.
But if we were walking back to their car and there was a similar one of the same color parked nearby, I’d be just as likely to head for that one as theirs. It would immediately become clear I had no idea.
What? There are a lot of black and silver cars in this world.
You’d think I’d pay more attention.
The summer after ninth grade, we were back in the US, and in Virginia for a couple weeks. We were staying with one of our old neighbors.
Betty and I had gone out to run errands, and she’d needed to stop at the drug store – the same drug store where we bought our tremendous quantities of toilet paper – and I was hanging out in the rented car waiting for her. I was just kicking back looking out the window when I recognized an old friend of mine from junior high.
I got out and ran over to her. We chatted. And then I headed back to the car.
So I was sitting there, seat back reclined, feet up on the dashboard, enjoying the breeze from the open windows, when a very cute teenage guy got in the driver’s seat.
This shocked me into bolt uprightness. “What are you doing?”
I was all kinds of indignant. Even though he was really cute. Honestly! Who did he think he was?
He replied, “What are you doing?”
“Waiting for my mom!”
“But this is my car.”
“It is not!”
“It really is.” He held out his keys. He reached down between the seats. “These are my mother’s gloves.”
At which point I looked around the car. There was nothing actually familiar. It was just…blue. Same as our rental car.
I blushed. I stammered. I wanted to explain. “I...we...live in India...”
“Do you need a ride somewhere?” He asked this very kindly.
“I’m...Our car. Is blue! Too...sorry.”
I’d like to say I got out, walked right over to our car, and got in. But the truth is, I had no idea which one it was.
I fled as coolly as possible in the direction of the drugstore to find my mama.