The carpool lane in my high school consisted primarily of hand-me-down’s from parents, which makes sense – you want to give your old car to your kid so:
a) you can get a new one.
2) teenagers are terrible on cars.
The difference between my high school and others is that meant my best of friends drove things like the last model Lexus sports cars and the BMW 8 series that had phones built into it. Yep. Car phones. Back before we had cell phones glued to our ears, we had car phones and landlines, remember those, kids? Phones are the things you use to call people and have a conversation that doesn’t have to occur in abbreviated form.
It didn’t bother me – STC is a fairly affluent area and I’ve grown up here, so it’s not like it was a particular culture shock. Because my parents didn’t (rightly) trust me to own a car without somehow banging it up like I did the day after I got my license, I didn’t own a car of my own. Instead, because I lived in the center of town, it was fairly easy to glom rides off my friends so that we could drive co-centric circles around the school, smoking cigarettes and wondering if we should bother going to class or head downtown and make mischief.
When I graduated high school, the elaborate parties my friends had were intense. You know that horrifying Sweet Sixteen (and Pregnant? I can’t keep that stuff straight) show on MTV where kids are all, I WANT JUSTIN BEAVER AT MY PARTY DADDY AND A PONY AND A DIAMOND TIARA. It was like that, except there were ice sculptures and a hell of a lot less snot-nosed asshole kids – STC may be more affluent, but the people here are genuinely kind.
Rather than a pony on roller-skates or John C. Mayer crooning about my body being a wonderland to my throngs of teen friends, I had a backyard BBQ with some friends that lasted well into the wee hours of the night. Lots of debauchery and drinking occurred, but I wore jeans and a t-shirt and my Daddy didn’t drive into the backyard with a new Mercedes.
Which is good because I may have murdered him.
For my graduation gift, rather than a yacht named “Becky Rules,” which I spent an inordinate time scribbling on things that were not my own, I got a car. A used car. It was a car that had been used by my brother’s wife’s mother for many years. It may have been born before I was.
And while my high school boyfriend drove a Beemer – the kind you have to special order – that often contained gold bricks and wads of twenties stashed in the doors, I was pretty happy with my old Dodge Shadow. It may have been the color of baby poop (a guess – I’m colorblind), the doors may not have closed all the way, and shit, the oil was always leaking all over the damn place, but it was mine. All mine.
My boyfriend’s car was snazzier than mine and probably had more money in it than I’ll ever have, hands motherfucking DOWN, but my car was my own, which is why I loved it. Probably the ugliest car you ever saw, but I could, at the very least, jam my Tool tapes (yes tapes, not 8-tracks) into the boombox and sing along to Opiate – one of my favorite albums EVER, and go to all the places whenever I wanted to.
Driving has always been my best therapy. Full tank of gas and a half a pack of smokes? It’s time to get the Band Back Together, motherfuckers. I spent hours stupidly driving the thing (I say stupid because it tried to kill me) around town and back, exploring roads that I’d never been down before, and when I’d return home, it was like all my problems had vanished.
While my compatriots in the carpool had leather seats and built-in CD players, mine had chalk drawings on the ceiling and incense burning from the cup holder (the thing was unable to properly store tasty beverages).
On the driver’s side door, just above the window, I’d written this in neon green chalk:
“This is not an exit.”
And it never was.
What was your first car, Pranksters?
Really wish THIS had been my first car.