Sure it was sweet at first with its comfy seats and “rack and pinion steering” whatever that is. It sneered at me while spitting out exhaust. I swore I saw it stop and start by itself when I tried to get in.
One stone cold night after work, I sat at an intersection off the I – which was I-94 in Wisconsin but since it was the only interstate in WI we just called it the I. I innocently waited for the light to turn green just so I could get home and warm my frozen toes but it just sat there. It stalled and the steering wheel didn’t work. Cars honked, people drove around. I cried and my tears froze right on my cheeks.
If I listened real hard I could hear Devil Car laughing, “Oh you’re such a dumb twenty-year-old blond! It took you four years to get up enough courage to get your license. I’m your first car. I’m gonna have fun with YOU.”
Devil Car turned over and over and just as I envisioned myself walking home in below zero weather, he finally started up. I drove with my head down in case anyone from high school recognized me on the I.
Another night, while driving home from my fiance’s mom’s house, I listened to Robin Gibb‘s version of “Oh Darlin'” on the tape deck. The car must have been a Beatles fan and hated Gibb’s version because I hit a patch of ice, did a 360 and almost went down an embankment. Thankfully I stopped spinning before going over.
I felt like Job being tested by God. Well, maybe not that severe but still. Finally I said, “That’s IT!” My relationship with this car mirrored the relationship with my fiancé. Whenever he made a crack about my big butt, Devil Car chuckled. Whenever he told me to do something with my flat hair (because all girls had ocean wave hair back then) Devil Car guffawed.
I called off the engagement but he said keep the car and the engagement ring. No way. I traded the ring for my sister’s winter coat and traded in the car for a little slightly used 1987 Sundance. I spotted Sunny with a For Sale sign in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot. It had a smiley face for a grill gloriously painted in a delightful shade of candy apple red.
It was like a little puppy pawing at me behind a glass cage at a pet store. “C’mon in,” it said with its driver’s door open wide, “the seats are fine!”
- Video: Ghostly Steam Devils on Wisconsin Lake (wired.com)