Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A Kick in the Ass

We have this car. It's almost a classic. It's only slightly shorter than the Ford Excursion and is wide enough to (ahem) lie down on in. It's a 1970 Chrysler Newport Custom. Two-door hardtop. It's got a 383 and dual pipes. It has the most seductive growl, except when it's cruising, and then it's silent.

(You can see kind of what it looks like here -- take the color of the top car and put it on the bottom car, and there you have it.)

When Matt got it, it had been spending its life as a grocery-getter for the widow of a Lutheran pastor. Everything original. Beautiful shape.

When I came back from Russia, Matt drove that car to the airport to meet me. My flight was coming in from St. Louis in the evening. A storm between St. Louis and Mpls forced my plane to turn around. Back in St. Louis, they started parceling us out to hotels for the night. After an hour or so, though, the storm blew off and they decided to load people back on the plane and forge through to Minneapolis.

Well, some people were on the plane.

In Minneapolis, Matt waited with a bouquet of red roses and the keys to his dream car in his pocket. The flight from St. Louis landed, and he was ready to start his new life.

It is hard to wait for the last person to come off a plane, and then realize that the person you wanted to come off the plane was never on the plane in the first place.

He can be excused for perhaps having a moment of doubt.

This being the mid-90s, neither of us had cell phones. With a couple of frantic third-party phone calls through my folks in Nebraska, we worked out when I would actually be arriving the next day.

The drive home from the airport was full of sun. The storm had polished the trees and fields, and the Chrysler murmured its pleasure on the road.

The car gets looks and thumbs-up. It's sleek. It roars.

We store the car over the winter. Before we had this place, we had to rent space to store it in a heated pole barn in Wisconsin. I will never forget following the Chrysler in Matt's old Chevy S-10, six months pregnant, in a dark sleety night, listening to the Vikings beat the Packers.

The first drive in the summer is a major event. The windows down and the kids buckled in with not-yet-regulation seat belts, we feel like we could drive forever.

The Chrysler was my daily driver for a few days a couple weeks ago while Matt had some work done on his truck and borrowed my car. It reminded me of when I had come back from Russia and hadn't driven a car in almost two years. But it handles easily -- I hestitate to use the cliche of a well-trained animal, but it responds with almost a consciousness.

When I was done with it, I put it into the bay with the grease pit for Matt to do some work on it. On Sunday, he pulled it into the driveway.

And you know what happened? This beautiful car, which hasn't had a ding or a pit put into it in 34 years, was in the way when one of the horses decided to see ghosts. Sheik kicked the Chrysler on its back panel.

1 comment: