Thursday, October 26, 2006

All things shall pass, save for the memories.

Though several have said it, I don't consider selling my 84 Monte Carlo SS as a step into adulthood.

The SS was the first true thing I felt that I bought with my own money. I was a true introvert in highschool, working for Papa Blue at Little Caesars, so the Marching Band was my only real social activity I had, and that rarely cost any money unless we were going out for Denny's afterwards.

I remember seeing my first 4th generation SS when I was 9 on 88th and Antioch driving north. I asked Dad what kind of car that was and knew then I wouldn't settle for anything less.

I drove my Mom's Sundance on occasion when I needed a car and she didn't want to go anywhere, so like the good son, I became the errand boy. When my uncle called from the car dealership he worked at near Wichita and knew I was looking for one, Papa Blue stood up for my dream and held his ground when Moma Blue said her son didn't need that big of a car as his first car.

So we headed down...and when we test drove it...we ran out of gas. The guage was off by an 1/8th of a tank, so when it said it had a quarter of a tank in it, it lied and was nearly bone dry. Uncle had to come get us about 20 minutes after we stopped. Loved the car, it's size, shape, horsepower, and especially the stance of the car. It looked like it was ready to cruise.

When we got to the bank, I already had 2,000 saved from flipping pizzas, so Dad cosigned on the 1,500 loan, and I'll never forget the speech he whispered to me after he signed his name on the paperwork and the guy left to go get the keys...

"Listen Blue, and listen good. Your Mom was right when she said this might be too much of a car for you, so don't let your friends talk you into doing some stupid shit with the car. You'll have fun, I know, but know that car, ANY car, can kill. If you EVER get hurt or you hurt someone else while driving that car, you'll never ever feel good about driving ever again and I'll see that you never drive the car again. Take responsibility for it, be safe, and she'll take care of you. I don't say these things to be mean, I say them to be honest, and you know it."

Words to live by...though then when he mentioned the kill ass puckered up big time. When your getting your first car you think about how much fun your going to have...not that your buying a 2,000 pound hunk of metal that can really hurt someone.

What was one of the firs things we did when we got back to Overland Park? Found a parking lot and peeled out, sped up and turned quickly to break the rear end loose, and all sorts of "never leaving the ground" dukes of hazzard type stuff. We had fun, but I think it took all of the "show off" out of me. Well...almost.

Still, that car rocked. I can remember the first big burnout I did when the drumline was leaving a pizza place. Left the entire drumlines car in smoke....and I had to put on the spare tire the next morning. *cheesy "I'm young and dumb" grin*

I will say though, I never EVER raced the SS. Despite that my model car was built to compete in NASCAR, I really never had a desire to see how fast it would go. I had pinned at 85+ a couple times on 69 highway passing some cars on two lane blacktop, but other wise I'd cruise.

All through high school, cops would follow me around, waiting for me to do something stupid. I even had one follow me from my friends house in Shawnee all the way to Overland Park.

Got my heart broken for the first time in that car. I was the nice guy that offered to take someone to a play when she didn't have a ride, and yeah, I was interested in her, and she picked up the vibe but quashed it with, "I'm sorry, I'm looking for a good upstanding [insert religion here] when I get out of college."

I picked up my buddies girlfriend on occasion when he'd ask. I'd take the same buddy for pizza when I fucked up Dad's computer at home and it needed to be fixed.

Learned all I knew about cars from that thing. Flooded the carb and in a hurry to go? Open the butterfly flap with a screw driver and start it up to get the gas/air mixture back in balance. Learned about various tubing, installed power steering pumps, alternators, radiator, fans, changed the shocks, breaks, resealed the wheel bearings, drained/cleaned/filled the rear end gears, tore apart the dash to change bulbs (Pink helped with that one!), had the tranny rebuilt when it slipped out of 3rd gear during 35mph crusing name it, I knew it on that car. Cost a heck of a lot to keep it maintained and running, but when I needed her, she was there. Replaced a corner panel window when it got broken into once. Replaced the punched lock (with uncle's help) when it got broken into a second time. Third time I had 1/16 guage steel collar put around the column of the car and that time the thieves took the 5 dollar speakers I had bought at a garage sale some 15 years earlier.

*laughs* Fan flew off and went into the radiator once on my way back down to Pitt. Parked it behind gas station for a week till my buddies could go pick it up. Power steering pump had a gash in the housing, it's belt somewhere back on the highway, and the radiator had 3 gashes in it. What does a Resident Assistant/computer nerd and an Army Ranger/Computer nerd do? Pull out the soldering iron and plug the holes up. Ran for 2 years that way...till i forgot about it and the solder got hot on my way to Michigan and I had to pick up a radiator in a small town. :) Ate PB&J and watched TV for two days till the radiator shop opened up.

Never got into an accident either. I did get hit in the Shawnee Mission West high school parking lot while it was parked, and it turns out a friend of mine did it to avoid hitting another car. Got an estimate to see what it would take to fix it, kept it "off the books," and the guy made one payment and died of a cocaine overdose. Still got mixed emotions about that one right there, half "man, dude...why did you go and to that" to "man, we had some good times to" my high school/college buddy once put it, "I'm going to go piss on that fuckers grave."

Took the car to New Hampshire and back. Learned about lake effect snow while I died in a blizzard and had to get the alternator replaced. Drove it to Michigan for a Residence Hall Internship...and drove it back with a bad tranny. Every stop I refilled with fluid only to have it slowly drain out...never seized and the when it was rebuilt the guy said it was damn good for a 20+ year old transmission.

Took Pink out to Shawnee Mission Park in it and proposed to her. Left the car at the apartment during the wedding so my family wouldn't mess with it. Had X-Spider follow me all the way from Shawnee Mission Park to Independence and we drove back to the Park together so no one would touch it.

Took Little Blue back and forth to daycare for a while in it. "Vroooom Daddy Vrooom!"

Met some good friends with the car. Even had one come from New York to pay us a visit. Another actually bought the car from me, so I know it's going to a good home.

Got out of a speeding ticked because of it. I had printed off instructions from message board about how to change the dash lights and I was cruising up 71 highway (Pink was in Independence, MO at the time) and a cop pulled me over for speeding. I was polite to the officer, admitted I had no clue how fast I was going but was trying to flow with what little traffic there was on the highway at 10pm at night. Mentioned to the officer that my dash lights were out but was planning on visiting the parts store the next day with the instructions I had printed out and will be replacing all the lights. Officer laughed, told me that I looked like that I knew what I was doing, and I got out of the ticket. :)

But, those days are gone, and rightfully so. At 8-12 miles to the gallon, the last pure muscle car off of the Chevy line was put to rest (most modern cars are half computer anyway, more modern technology than muscle). She was starting to fall apart and I'd rather spend a lot of time with my growing son rather than under a greasy dirty car to keep it running.

I was willing to store it for a while to see if Little Blue ever wanted to turn a wrench and pass it down the line, but in the end decided that the storage cost and worry wasn't worth it. If he wants to work on cars, we'll find one that he wants and go to town on that one. I've had my fun, and I've moved on.

Pink and I had many talks about it, and she knows I'll still be addicted, and she bought me a 1/24 die cast scale model of a White SS which is resting on the mantle with our other interesting memorables, and I honestly feel unless we win the lottery (got to play to win though, huh?) my days of driving a Monte Carlo SS are done.

So rest in peace, Guenhwyvar, Metallic Blue (I always called it midnight blue) 84 Monte Carlo SS. 305ciho V-8 power plant with 180 HP at the wheels and just enough torque to break the wheels loose, but enough grip to tease the idiots who think I'd race a 15+ year old car with 170,000 miles on the engine. She was a peg leg, but that leg never let her down. She roared like a beast, the engine purred like a cat, and I enjoyed the sound so much I never put a good stereo in it. Cheap tape deck didn't even have a clock on it.

It was fun, and she was my baby, but my family is my baby now. And just as much as my SS taught me to take care of what is mine and to learn as much as I can from it, my family gives me the same rewards tenfold.

Will I miss it? Hell yeah. Am I glad it's gone? Yeah, I am. Do I miss driving it? When I got in the car to meet up and sell it, it just didn't "feel" right anymore. I'm pretty happy with the memories I have of it. I've got a couple scale models to put together if I ever want to stare at the engine again.

Am I glad I don't have to hunt over the internet for parts for a car that'll be considered a classic in a couple years? Hell yes. Cars are expensive!

**PS...if we ever do win the lottery, Pink's getting her blue and white Suburban back too!

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