Sunday, October 02, 2011

9: Driving

I'm not huge on cars; to me, they're nice to have if your life requires you to move around a lot. They're very nice to have in bad weather when you're cooking a recipe that calls for half a dozen eggplants and two pineapples. When I own one (or have charge of one), I do my best to keep the car happy. But I am not one of those people who's got a dream car all plotted out, down to the model and engine capacity and colour and detailing. If I had to choose, I'd probably go with something sedate and timeless in a neutral colour that doesn't show its dirt too easily, because car-washing isn't high on my priority list.

Which, I suppose, is what amused everybody in my life when I bought the very first car that was all my very own, and it turned out to be


Spunky.

I named it shortly after bringing it home, a steal at more than 20% off the market price. After years of driving my family's much-loved but increasingly erratic '79 Corolla, I had been wishing I could have a brand-new car for once. Whoda thunk I'd get my wish, well within the reach of even poorly-paid musical production assistant me? Granted, I had no say over the colour, or the fact that it had been a lucky draw prize for an equestrian event whose organisers saw fit to cover each door with a stylised horse. But it was still under manufacturer's warranty, had barely 200km on the clock, and the plastic still on the seats, and you could still see the original colour of the dipstick handle. And it had been released as some fancy-pants "Special Edition" with additional sports features, like a brushed-steel gearshift. Ah, the number of times I blistered my left palm getting Spunky into gear after a couple of hours parked under the Malaysian sun.

But I never minded, because it was clean and new and it didn't overheat, stall or leak. It was a safe vessel to give people lifts in, to get around with as work and leisure demanded without worrying about whether my outfit was waterproof enough. I could park it without straining my triceps sore. I could lock the doors when I was driving alone, confident that the locks wouldn't jam and require me to climb out a window. And it was mine, all mine.

Spunky is only one example of the way I rarely get exactly what I expect -- the way I usually get way more than I would have known how to ask for.

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