The Inexorable Necessity of Automobiles

I wonder what it was like to live in the days where being car-less was not an anomaly.

If I took a survey of people’s opinions, I’m sure I would receive a variety of answers. The granola-hippies would wistfully state that Mother Earth was much happier in those days. My fellow lethargic college students would grumble at the idea of having to walk to Wal-Mart to buy Easy Mac. Senior citizens would recite the age-old cliché of walking to school in three feet of snow.

As for me, I could probably see a bit of merit in all the ideas. Lessening pollution would certainly be a benefit, but our society is not set up in a way that is always conducive to walking to Wal-Mart. Walking there from my campus, for instance, would be dangerous since it’s next to a very busy road. However, I’m sure that walking to school in the snow would have the added benefit of reducing the obesity epidemic.

(Though seeing as how my dinner tonight consisted of Ramen, Hamburger Helper, 7 cajun wings, AND a slice of pizza, I think that whether or not I walk to school in the snow is only a small factor pertaining to whether or not I provide another statistic in obesity studies…)

What is the inspiration for this sudden interest in cars, you might ask? I totaled mine this weekend.

To put it simply: Car met Tree, Car liked Tree, Car hugged Tree.

Car hugged Tree with such force and velocity that Tree bent Car’s frame. Car also suffered a few internal injuries, but since the frame would have to be replaced in order for these to be treated, Car has been diagnosed as totaled.

What a total (heh-heh) disaster.

Anyhow, I’ve been pretty upset all week. One minute you have a car, the next minute it’s gone. I’ve started thinking about how much that applies to so many things in life. Not to be cliché, but you really can’t take anything for granted because you never know when it’ll disappear.

Now I mooch rides off of people. The beauty of this is that it’s the end of the semester, when everyone’s running out of meal points. You can buy people french fries for carting you someplace, and they are perfectly happy.

The other thing I’ve noticed is the sometimes freakish attachment humans have to certain inanimate objects. Being a musician, this relates to me personally through musical instruments. My Gibson SG is named Eliot Schroeder. Eliot is after T.S Eliot, and Schroeder is after the Peanut’s character. I’ve messed with names for my acoustic, but finally settled on Harriet.

My Gibson Les Paul is Lester Paul. I thought of it in jazz band the other day, and immediately felt as though I had given birth to a son. The disturbing part is that sometimes I can’t figure out if I see the Les Paul as my child or my boyfriend. The relationship of a guitarist and their instrument is a strange mixture of camaraderie and sexuality, I suppose.  Hence the fact that I typically name my guitars as men, while most guys name theirs as women.

This has been especially problematic with Lester the Les Paul, on account of the fact that he’s not actually mine. He is given to the incumbent first guitar player in jazz band each semester. I’m the first girl to have possession of him, and I believe he must have had to go through a sex change because of that. All the guys have thought of him as a female. Poor Lester. He’s had his true sexual identity confused all these years!

Harriet the acoustic is a girl, because she’s what I play when I’m in a girl mood. If Lester is my manly man boyfriend and Eliot is my sexy boyfriend, Harriet is my best girl friend.

How does this relate to cars, you might ask?

I didn’t realize I had the same sort of relationship with my car as I did with my guitars, but apparently I did. My car had its quirks – the door handle that fell off, the fact that it hated going in reverse, the giant soap stain on the passenger’s seat – but it was a trusty, reliable car. As of late, I had referred to him (my car has a gender, but it’s not as relevant as with my guitars) affectionately as the “Ghetto Mobile.” It was actually a fairly emotional experience having to remove my things so he could be towed to the junkyard.

Rest in Peace, my trusted Ghetto Mobile. You will be sorely missed.

In the second that the car smashes straight into the tree, there are a multitude of thoughts that fly through your head at the speed of light. My big (fraternity) sister, Whitney, was in the passenger’s seat. I think I screamed “WHITNEY!” at the top of my lungs several times without even thinking about it. One minute I was on the road, the next I was seeing a tree from a perspective I had never seen or desired to see. The loose coins I keep in a tin in my car for when I need an Icee fix came flying out all around us. Whitney freaked out, thinking it was glass cracking from the windshield. My next instinct was to drive it, but Whitney stopped me as soon as I started the car, trying to calm me down while she got on the phone with the police.

The next thought in my head was something along the lines of “I’m the worse little sister ever! What kind of little sister almost kills her big a week and a half after initiation?”

Somehow, we were both fine. Thank God for seatbelts.

The results? I need a job next semester. I’ve got to figure these things out. I might live with Whitney in an apartment next year, but that idea is shakier now that I have no transportation to and from campus. I guess I could make an even greater contribution to the obesity epidemic by buying multiple servings of french fries for people every day, but I’m thinking that would add up to an even greater amount than gas money.

You just have to keep trekking and trying to be happy with what you have, just being happy that you have anything at all.

Cars and people and guitars have more similarities than I thought, though I would never trade the life of a person for the sake of an inanimate object. I just don’t like finding more things to grow emotionally attached to. I would never cry as hard at a car crashing (in which no one was even injured) as I would if my son (hypothetically a human, not a guitar) died. There’s a spectrum of feelings, and everything falls on different levels. Inevitably, you can’t numb yourself to a point where you stop feeling anything at all. Sometimes I even get a little sad when I squash a bug.

My point? Keep feeling what you feel. Nothing lasts forever, and it’s better to feel a multitude of emotions for a multitude of different beings/objects than to keep them all in one basket. If that basket rolls down a hill one day and all your eggs fall out (assuming I’m quoting the saying “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket”) then you have nothing to fall back on.

I think that’s what I’m saying, anyway. Just keep on truckin’! (…or car-in’!)

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One comment

  1. Rick · · Reply

    I had a car that I shared with my brother starting in my senior year in HS. He got it when I left for college. During college I had no car. My life was pretty much limited to a 3 mile radius. A mile to the Ag campus for biology courses, a half mile for most others. When I moved off campus it justed added another 3/4 mile. Snow was not a real problem. Everybody was glad when the ground froze in late November because there was no mud. (I was in Ithaca, NY). After college I still did not have a car so I either rode my bicycle the 5 miles to work or took the bus in inclement weather. It did not seem like much of an inconvenience, Corpus being rather flat. When I bought a car I found that I no longer wanted to ride my bike to work and immediately had a lower bank account and gained weight. I attribute both to laziness. Where I live in San Antonio there is no way not to have a motorized vehicle. This is sad but a trade-off I am making for good schools (thought not after Tim graduates) and a big lot on a green belt. In the future I could see living downtown or in a couple of other areas of SA where I would seldom need a car. Denser population areas like NY, Chicago, and San Francisco make using a car more of an inconvenience rather than a necessity except for out of town trips.

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