Judgments, James Dean, and My Little Volkswagen Jelly Bean

(original post on fb – May 2, 2013 – From A to B – Part One – The Cars We Drive)

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My mother drives a convertible BMW, my father, a Lexus. They are retired and spend their winters in Florida to avoid the snow and so my dad can golf all year round. They also travel, spending a month just last year driving around the south of Spain. My dad had a plan and, as far as I know, he succeeded in achieving what he set out to do. They are living their dream so kudos to them.

It’s been a bit strange staying at their house in the suburbs, a house I never lived in, while they’ve been away. I’ve also had the luxury of driving my mother’s car for the past few months. Before this, I borrowed a friend’s old pick up truck for awhile, before that I drove a little hatchback rented for the purpose of working on a film shoot, and before that I was driving a friend’s Jeep Liberty. All good cars.

And then there was the lemon of a Prelude I bought and drove for half an hour before learning from my mechanic that it wasn’t worth salvaging. But wow, that half hour driving that low riding cockpit of a car down the winding, tree-lined road in Sooke, BC was awesome and almost makes it worth the money I spent.

I love driving. I got my first car when I turned 21. A red Volkswagen Golf complete with “Sport” stripe. I was lucky, 21 is a big birthday in the UK where my family is from, so my dad bought it for me. I imagine this was a part of his plan. It didn’t arrive with a pretty red bow on it in the driveway though. No, I was given a budget and told to shop around for the car I wanted and then come back and give him the details. It was a good lesson.

I managed to sell my dad on the Golf, even though it was slightly over budget, because I knew it had great resale value and good life in it. I had that car for 15 years and even after two trips across the country, nearly 10 years of Ontario winters, one accident, very minimal service done on it over the years, and mould in the interior, I was still able to sell it for 500 bucks so it could be converted into a racecar for a 14 year-old kid.

My little Jelly Bean spent her final days kicking ass around a racetrack and getting the shit kicked out of her in return. Yes, I personified my car and yet, in the end, it was easy to let her go.

Now, for someone who always says, “I must have been James Dean in a past life”, namely because of the fact that I love to drive fast, always gripping the gearshift even in an automatic car, this funeral was pretty cool. But I doubt people ever saw me as the James Dean type in that car. Why would they?

I was a young female in a red VW attending a preppy university, then working various corporate jobs in Toronto which did include a couple of years at the Molson Indy, then driving across the country to BC to work in film and the arts – I did have the honour of meeting the man who wrote “Rebel Without A Cause” and even became friends with a woman who went to school with James Dean. Okay, maybe there are some connections but at a glance, anyone seeing me drive by in that car wouldn’t know any of these things about me.

If they did take any notice, they’d simply be making an assumption about who I was, maybe question what it was I did for a living, and perhaps how I afforded my car. They might even be wondering if I was single. Heck, I met my first high school boyfriend while cruising around with some friends in my mother’s blue Bonneville, and I dated him for three years… the boyfriend, not the Bonneville.

It is interesting to see the people who do take notice when we drive different cars, how they treat us according to the cars we drive, how it feels to drive these cars, and the judgments or assumptions, valid or otherwise, that we so often make based upon a motorized piece of metal that gets us from A to B.

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