My poor PT Cruiser.
Tom started to notice that she had begun leaking fluid a few days ago. Of course I had seen the black spots on the driveway but I assumed that was normal. I mean, all cars leak, right? I see spots all the time on other people’s driveways and in parking lots. It’s just what cars do.
Apparently, I’m wrong.
When I explained this to Tom he shook his head gravely.
“Amber. It’s not a GOOD thing when cars leak,” he said in a sympathetic tone. He was speaking to me as though I were a patient in an insane asylum or something. He was probably worried that I’d flip out and start rushing around the house in a blind panic with my hands waving wildly above my head.
A lump formed in my throat.
“Will she....” I croaked out. “Will she...LIVE?” I held my breath as I waited for Tom’s response. I pictured my beautiful PT Cruiser, all silvery and shiny. Well, okay, it’s not so shiny these days thanks to the snow and such. But no matter, she’s still beautiful in MY eyes.
I remember when I first laid eyes on her. She was resting on the car lot in Nebraska and I swear it, she called to me.
Okay, it may have been because she was the first PT Cruiser I spotted. I always wanted a PT Cruiser. Tom tried to convince me that what I really wanted was an SUV.
“No,” I told him firmly. “A PT Cruiser.”
And that’s when I saw her. My PT Cruiser. I rushed over and was close to throwing my arms around the hood. But the car dealer sucked in his breath sharply when I got too close so I just gave the car a polite tap and studied the paper that was taped to the driver side.
“Sooo….a 2.4 liter engine. That seems….lovely,” I said knowingly, stroking my chin in the process. I was trying to pretend that I knew exactly what I was talking about. I was trying to pretend that I had bought loads of cars before.
But the truth was, my PT Cruiser would be the first car that I ever bought. You see, my husband and I were driving around a 1997 Toyota Corolla before. And we decided that we wanted to trade that in and get a new car.
Tom really didn’t care what car I picked out. So long as it wasn’t pink. Though he continued to cough out, “SUV” while I stared lovingly at the PT Cruiser.
“And the horsepower is 150 hp at 5,100 RPM! Goodness,” I continued as Tom sneezed “SUV SUV” beside me.
I ignored him.
I knew I did not want a SUV. To be honest, I prefer driving smaller vehicles. I think I’d break out in hives if someone asked me to drive around one of those huge Hummers.
“Sixteen valves Tom,” I pressed on, jabbing my thumb in the direction of the paper that listed all the car’s specifications. I had no idea what I was jabbering on about. I mean, sixteen valves? What in the world are those? And honestly, when I think about horsepower I immediately picture a bunch of horses being tied to a car and pulling it along. But again, I couldn’t let the car dealer in on this.
I had to get him to believe that I was Car Savvy.
Hello. I’m Amber and I know exactly what sixteen valves mean.
In the end, we got the car. I think the car dealer was growing a little tired of me going on about the valves.
We took excellent care of my PT Cruiser. Tom would lovingly wash her. And okay, he sort of lost interest when he got his truck—but he still would scrub her down whenever he’d wash the truck. No matter that I practically forced him to do it (“TOM! You have to wash the PT Cruiser. She’ll feel left out!” I’d screech. Tom would roll his eyes and be all, “Amber. It’s a car. It’s not alive. This means that it doesn’t CARE..” But I’d always convince him that my PT Cruiser was smart, that she DID notice and that she WOULD be insulted and Tom would just want me to shut up so he’d promise that he’d wash her too.)
The PT Cruiser did get sick once before though. While we were stationed in England a pigeon hit the car.
I repeat: the pigeon hit US. We didn’t hit the pigeon.
Then our radiator cracked. And we had to fork over $600 to get it fixed.
But then the PT Cruiser was as good as new.
Until now, that is.
Tom informed me that we had to take the PT Cruiser in to get looked at.
“Will Bertha be okay though?” I shrieked. A part of me wanted to run outside and throw my arms around my silver friend.
Tom sighed. “We’ll find out,” he replied.
Then he launched into a speech about how it could just be the gasket that needed replaced and if so, that would only run about a hundred bucks or so.
But then his voice grew somber and he added, “However, if they have to replace a line then that could be expensive. If it gets too expensive, my suggestion would be to just get a new car.”
I gave a horrified gasp. I even slapped my hands to my cheeks and probably resembled Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone.
“You want me to SELL Kate?” I yelped. I backed away from Tom as though he had an infectious disease.
Tom looked confused. “WHO is Kate?” he said. “You just called her Bertha!”
I shook my head swiftly. “My car has different names. You know how mood rings change colors depending on your mood? Well, my car changes names depending on moods. Bertha is who she is most of the time. But she morphs into Kate when she’s panicked. And Tom, she’s panicked now. She doesn’t WANT to be sold. She wants to stay here, with US!”
I knew I was getting dramatic but I couldn’t help it.
A new car?
Well, not so new. We’d probably just get a 2008 model. Kate is a 2001.
I don’t want to trade her in. Poor Kate!
“So if I started to leak you’d just get rid of me?” I demanded to Tom, who rolled his eyes up to the Heavens.
“Amber. You know I wouldn’t. It’s just, well, you know I’ve been wanting to get you a new car for some time now,” Tom reminded me.
This is true. He feels Kate isn’t safe enough for Wyoming weather. I don’t agree. She hasn’t gotten me into an accident once. She’s fiercely loyal.
Plus, she’s totally paid off.
We currently have no car payments. I don’t want to have car payments again. It would mean that I’d have to cut back in my shopping. It would mean less eating out which would mean I’d have to COOK more.
Kate has an appointment to get looked at tomorrow.
I wanted to get her in today but the mechanic didn’t seem to comprehend how important she is to me.
He just calmly said, “I can look at it tomorrow at 7:45.”
“Sir, she’s LEAKING. She’s sick,” I said in a shaky tone.
“Tomorrow at 7:45,” the mechanic repeated. I heard crackling in the background which led me to believe that he was EATING in the middle of our important conversation. How could he be EATING when my car was DYING?!
“But she could DIE—” I tried one last time.
And then I heard the dial tone.
See you tomorrow at 7:45.