Image by char1iej via Flickr"A Buick?" I thought to myself as the Budget Rent-A-Car attendant led me out to the parking lot. "I don't even know what a Buick looks like." It didn't take long for me to decide that I was NOT going to drive a Buick from Victoria to Calgary. I felt about a foot tall sitting in the front seat, it was too big and not the least bit comfortable for such a long trip.
It was the early summer of 2004 and I was about to drive my newly-graduated, eldest daughter and her friend to Calgary so that they could visit friends and hang out at the fairgrounds of the Calgary Stampede. Me, I was going to visit my brother and get a taste of Alberta for the first time since I was six years old. But a Buick wasn't going to cut it.
The attendant anxiously looked around at the other options in the parking lot. I just wanted a basic compact car, but the model I had set my heart on wasn't there. My eyes glanced past the two Mustang convertibles...too much car for me. It was suggested that maybe I might like an SUV, but a gas guzzler wasn't my cup of tea either. Then my eyes glanced back at the two Mustangs; a silver-grey one and a candy-apple red one. Hmmm. "How about a convertible?" the attendant asked, noticing my pondering. I hesitated for just a moment. And then I took the plunge. "Okay, let's go for the Mustang." My daughter's jaw dropped to the floor. "Mom!" she squealed, "We're getting a Mustang??"
When I drove that candy-apple beauty out of the parking lot, I was half excited and half terrified; it practically jumped out from under me the first time I hit the gas. I'd been driving a '97 Ford Aerostar for the last few years...a slug of a thing compared to this. But as I got used to its abilities, the Mustang started to feel a whole lot better, and suddenly I found myself smiling and imagining the looks of others. Yeah, jealous, eh? I smiled. And that was when I fell in love with a Mustang.
It wasn't until 2007, my 50th birthday, when I took the plunge again and rented another one. By this time, the model was new and the body was different, and although I had been promised a candy-apple red one, they only had one that was kind of an orange colour. At first I wasn't happy with the colour, but when a kid with his bike on the corner of a street I was turning onto yelled "Nice car!", I was hooked once again. Yeah, nice car. I picked up one of my friends to play golf in it a couple of days later. Golf clubs don't exactly fit in the trunk of a Mustang, so we had our clubs propped up in the back seat with the top down.
After the game we drove through a road check with several young police officers standing around. "Had anything to drink tonight?" one officer asked. "Nope", I truthfully replied. "Say, what do you call this colour?" he asked, referring to the car. "I call it Cheez Whiz," I smiled. The rest of the young cops started eyeing us and began hooting as we drove away. They were probably hooting at the car, but oh well. It was one of the best moments of my life :-)
This summer, my youngest daughter turns 21. I turn 52, which doesn't seem a significant age, except for the fact that my mother passed away just a short while after her 52nd birthday, so it has meaning for me. Funny how we measure things like that. I know of several people who've had parents who passed away early, and they all seem to have thought it quite a victory to have made it past the same age. My mother died of Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes. Only a couple of years ago, I found out that it is not an inherited type of cancer, but for all of those years after she died, I wondered if I would go the same way. I guess I still do.
But unless I get hit by a truck in the next while, it looks like I am going to surpass her age. And that is why my daughter and I are renting a Mustang to drive off to the Okanagan for a few days. It's a kind of victory lap for both of us for different reasons. We pick the car up on her birthday and take it back the day after mine. My good friends, knowing well my obsession with Mustangs, often try to convince me that I should just go out and buy one. With my husband recently laid off and the instability of the economy, I'd be nuts to right now, but I've certainly thought about it.
Then again, maybe the joy of driving one that I owned would eventually wear off and it would just be "the car".
But somehow, I can't imagine that a Mustang will ever be just another car to me. :D