“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;” Psalm 25:1
Sleek, silver with gray upholstery and woodgrain dash, I knew she was the one I wanted from the moment I saw her on the showroom floor, spotlighted and tattooed with “buy me now” stickers.
Until the wreck and the subsequent rental, I’d never imagined myself behind the wheel of an SUV. After years of driving a full-size conversion van, something I could easily slide into a parking space sounded perfectly lovely. But the rental company was fresh out of economy cars and for the same rate they’d let me have a brand new Dodge Durango SLT, fire engine red. I balked. It was one thing driving the lumbering beast I knew but quite another driving a flame colored tank with a Hemi. Oh, yes, a Hemi. My husband’s eyes glazed. I snatched the keys and loaded the kids.
I took great pains clearing the parking lot and upon entering the freeway proceeded to accelerate as usual to merge into oncoming traffic. And that’s when it happened. The Hemi kicked in and before you could say “snot” I had slid neatly between two rocketing vehicles without as much as a cough or hesitation from the engine. My eyes glazed.
Red, as I started calling the rental, remained with us for the three months it took to repair our own vehicle’s damage and by then there was no turning back. I had never owned a brand new vehicle because not one had ever captured my heart to the extent that a used version wouldn’t do. I suppose at some point new car fever infects everyone. At forty-five, I was burning with it, but only for that particular type. And I knew my limits – I had to forgo the Hemi. The taste of instant speed was too intoxicating for trips back and forth to the elementary school. Grinning like he’d done something special, my husband took me car shopping.
Let me say here and now that buying a vehicle is not new to me. I’ve bought all the vehicles in our family and I’ve sold all the vehicles in our family. One of my husband’s favorite stories is sending me to buy a 26 foot 1976 U-haul truck, which I did after talking the sellers into the price I was willing to pay, and then selling it for $50.00 more than I’d paid after we used it to move 2,200 miles across the country. Somewhere between the subtle Southern accent and blonde hair, salesmen see me as a pushover. My husband sits back and watches, and we’ve never paid more for a car than what we’ve agreed upon ahead of time.
So when her shiny silver paint momentarily dazzled me I knew I had to look both disinterested and unfazed. The sticker in the window quoted a price $6,000 more than our budget. I squeezed my husband’s hand. He winked at me and whispered, “Get ’em.”
The manager himself reduced the price to what I was willing to pay, shaking his head as he walked away. After the paperwork was signed and her fenders were polished, I parked my bottom on the seat of my very own silver Dodge Durange SLT. She purred. I purred. And I named her Sophie.
From then on, we went everywhere in Sophie.
“What are we taking, Mom?” the kids would ask.
“Sophie,” I’d answer.
My teenagers would groan. “It’s a Durango, Mom. THE DURANGO.”
I’d grin and shake my head, “Nope, it’s Sophie, who happens to BE a Durango.”
They continued to make fun of her name, my nephew attempting for a time to call her Bilbo. Since none of the kids were old enough to drive yet, I was one of several moms who drove from four to six boys from Point A to Point B and back every weekend. Sam, my then fourteen year old, tried relentlessly to get me to give up her name, begging me to not to mention it when his friends were in the car. But I suppose boys find perverse pleasure in embarrassing one another because soon his friends were saying as we walked out the door to the car, “We’re taking Sophie, right,” or, on their cell phones to other friends to be picked up, “We’ll be coming in Sophie to get you,” or, when calling to be picked up from the mall, “We’ll come out when we see Sophie.” Sophie is so well known that one day driving through the neighborhood a group of boys leaned out their car window and yelled, “Hi Sam’s mom! Hi Sophie!”
Sophie has just turned over 36,000 miles. One of her best features is a DVD player. The drive from Phoenix to Santa Barbara is a three-movie trip with pit stops as we learned last summer. She purrs her way to school and back during the week and can unerringly drive my daughter and I to the mall. She’s everything I wanted and no other car has even tempted me to stray.
Lately, my husband’s been ogling a hot little Mustang GT, bright yellow with black racing stripes. Hmmm. We’re thinking Fred, or maybe Monty. We’ll have to see what Sophie thinks.