Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Car



The Car

I learned to drive in a car longer than a big city block. A Pontiac Star Chief - an automobile of such preposterous size that it enabled the driver to appear both ridiculous and courageous simultaneously. My father was my driving instructor and I can still see him, crouched like a wet cat in the passenger seat, wide-eyed and unblinking, ready to spring into action at the first indication that I might slam on the accelerator and head straight for the nearest cliff. Of course, there were no cliffs around the shopping center parking lot where he held our Sunday afternoon lessons. Just asphalt as far as the eye could see, this being in the day when shops closed on Sundays, you see. (Where DO kids learn to drive these days?) I can’t really blame him for approaching this rolling schoolroom with trepidation, as I would imagine the sight of one’s child behind the wheel for the first time would have to chill the blood a bit. He was stalwart, however, and from him I learned to yield to the right at stop signs, to turn into a skid should I ever be unfortunate enough to be in the middle of one, and to never.... and I mean never... pick up a hitchhiker.

But even with Daddy’s devoted teaching, I still failed my first driving test. Oh, I did fine on the driving part. It was in the area of parking where I ran into a spot of trouble. Well, you just try and parallel park the QE2 and see how well you do. Personally, I consider it not a feat, but a miracle, that I managed to pass second time out. But pass I did, receiving a plasticine driver’s license emblazoned with my photograph, wide-eyed and unblinking, in the upper left hand corner.
Along with that long-coveted driving license came the good news that the old Pontiac Star Chief, leaf green and long as the Nile, was now to belong to me and, in an instant, my dream of zipping along city streets with the cool grace of a Charlie’s Angel was rudely replaced with a now more realistic mental picture of Angela Lansbury attempting to steer that big four-poster in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. But the prospect of vehicular independence trumped any vanity I might have possessed at sixteen, so I held my head high, grabbed hold of that hula-hoop sized steering wheel, rolled down those plate glass windows, and hit the road.
No doubt as a result of that first over-elongated auto, I have driven tiny cars ever since. Zippy and close to the road, these are the cars I most love to drive. I am not at home in a SUV. I consider the Hummer to be manufactured chiefly for those wishing to compensate for unhappy childhoods or unsatisfactory appendages. Peugeots, Renaults, Bristol Blenheims. These are the cars that I try to rent whenever I’m across the pond, but it is difficult to find their like back here in the states.
Recently my tiny car, old but beloved, was put in the hospital for a faulty transmission, necessitating a visit to the rental car counter. Just as the salesmen was about to hand over the keys to a rather humdrum Chevrolet, he suddenly cocked his head and fixed me with a questioning stare.
You know”, he said,
I think I’ve got something that would suit your personality a bit better.
Come with me.
He grabbed up another set of keys and we proceeded to the parking lot where I soon found myself standing in front of the car of my dreams - just in, with only 64 miles on the odometer. Tiny and zippy, to be sure, but oh, it was so much more. I could see in an instant, this was not mere transportation.
This was a ticket to another time - a passport to an age of Hermes scarves and white sunglasses.
Canfora sandals, limoncellos, and Nat King Cole.
This was the brand-new Fiat 500.
I kept that rental car for a couple of weeks, the longest test drive ever. I drove it at night and in the rain. On the fast expressway and twisty rural roads. It was comfortable for two furry dogs as well as for a six foot one Songwriter and his two acoustic guitars. I hated to turn it back in when my car was all well.
So.
Reader, I bought one.
Life is short and I could not resist.
Parallel parking is now a breeze!
And I think my driving instructor would love it.
Edward certainly does.



58 comments:

  1. I seem to live in the land of Fiats, well, outside of Italy. They are all tiny and adorable and I consider having one every day.
    But I live in Buenos Aires and I think with the way they drive here, a Tank might be a better ( safer) idea.
    I love the color of that little Fiat but most of all, I love the furry face in the front seat .. besos. C

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  2. Oh Pamela, I am the colour of your car with envy. I love it and, like you I learned to drive a car that resembled a boat. I love small cars and the Nissan micra or VW golf is my favourite to drive in Europe. Wishing you many miles of joy, fun and parking
    Helenxx

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  3. I LOVE it! And I love that Edward does too! I've given you a blog award! You can get it here . :)

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  4. what style - enjoy!



    Warm Aloha from Honolulu;

    Comfort Spiral



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    < ° ) } } > <

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  5. Love the car and the color. Double love your co-pilot. xo

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  6. I love them! I have seriously thought about buying one for around my small town. LOVE. Have fun!

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  7. You!!! I’ve been lusting and you had the courage to go for it...love the color and Edward looks so adorable in it.

    you’ve inspired me...

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  8. Lovely story! It made my eyes crinkle with a smile and relate to my own past experiences whilst learning to drive and Edward looks as though he's thoroughly pleased with your new super cute wheels too!

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  9. My envy is greener than that=t super little wheelie.

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  10. Great car..!!!! Great post..Great dog..:)))

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  11. Memories. We used to have a Bristol Beaufighter. When it rained it leaked. When it rained heavily it leaked heavily. Cinquecentos are made for PONs.

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  12. I totally agree with your choice of car and your reasons for owning one. I am more than a little bit green with envy, I have just parted with my little Ford Ka and miss the ease of parking.

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  13. Pamela..these have been showing up in our little part of the world. Gorgeous little things!

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  14. So inspired and lovely!! I do prints, canvas, greeting cards and posters about fashion, you´r invited to see my work :)

    By the way love your blog and follow you!! :)

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  15. What a cute little car and a wonderful shade of green, wish we could have got our car in that shade. But you know I have a fondness for those huge old American cars. Perhaps because they never had them here in Britain - they would have literally been impossible on the small roads here.

    Thanks for a fun post.

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  16. Delightful, as always.
    Wherever do you find the best pictures for your stories?
    We had a zippy Fiat X19 once upon a time, when we were young and have a sweet picture of Tom's uncles driving it out in the cornfields of Iowa. Sigh.

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  17. What a fun little mobile for you and Edward! And of course the songwriter and Apple! Edward look sas if he is right at home waiting for a ride somewhere.

    I loved your story about learning how to drive, and of course about driving and parking a QE2. I am still laughing about that.

    Enjoy your beautiful, zippy new car!

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  18. Great story. I had one driving lesson with my hubby (I was a later starter as we never had a car in England). Why one lesson? I scared the you know what out of him and he passed me along to a professional for the remaining lessons! I did pass first go and have never caused an accident - I consider myself a good driver for someone who never learned with Dad in a parking lot, which is where we taught our kids too!

    Glad you've traded in the 'boat' for something so adorable - Edward looks fabulous in that color too.

    Happy, safe driving Pamela.

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  19. A wonderful tale!
    Green, green with envy. Want a new Cincquecento madly ( though we do not have a car at all in NY!)
    As per the blog below--
    Yes, we all wish the happy couple well. And the dress Stella designed very pretty too.
    Buster sends Apple and Edward a big wag.

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  20. Sweet, how you're tooling around now.

    Congrats.

    Adore Edward in the drivers seat.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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  21. I want one! And my daughter wants one! There are so many of them in Edinburgh. A neighbour has one in white, with a red and green Italian flag-reference trim.
    Edward sets the car off nicely!
    All you need to do now is reverse your 500 the wrong way down a one-way street with Italian panache, as I've seen 500s doing in Turin!

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  22. CONGRATS--LOVE THE CAR AND OF COURSE EDWARD!

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  23. Woohoo Pamela! I loved your story and adore your new car!! You go girl!

    I have a great giveaway ending tonight at midnight, so I hope you enter!

    xoxo
    Karena

    Art by Karena

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  24. Good for you! Great to meet you and Edward (he's adorable!)
    Laura x

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  25. Oh Pamela,
    Edward looks so at home in your bright new shiny Fiat, as I'm sure you and The Songwriter are.
    I was given a Chevrolet as a courtesy car once when mine had a service and it was the WORST car that I have ever driven !!
    Oh how I wish that I'd been given a Fiat 500. Perhaps I'll ask for one next time my car goes in for a service !!
    Wishing you many happy hours of driving in your new Fiat. XXXX

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  26. For one brief moment I was back in time laughing hysterically as we rode in your first car with the windshield wipers stuck in the "on" position...on a day with no rain. Thanks for the smile! :)

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  27. A most intuitive rental car salesman!!!! Aren't you glad!!!! Wonderful story!

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  28. Wonderful story but the best is the photo of that gorgeous car (love the color!) and Edward in his new wheels!

    You two are going to have a blast! Drive carefully.

    Bises,
    Genie

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  29. Such a cutie and your sidekick Edward looks pretty adorable in this baby too.....xv

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  30. Looks wonderful!

    Here is the original, someone is restoring it close to where we live:
    http://linneadiary.blogspot.com/2011/05/cute-fiat.html

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  31. It's so lovely and that color is perfection. If I could get away with driving a car instead of a big 'ol suv, that would be the car.

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  32. Good for you! Congrats on the new car. And thanks for the post - it transported me right back to my own driving lessons with my father:-)

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  33. Hello Pamela

    Love your new car!!

    Have a great day.

    Best
    Tracy :)

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  34. Delightful! Both the car AND Edward!!!

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  35. I learned to drive in a mile-long coup de ville; now I drive a small kia forte and love scooting around town. Your Fiat is perfect and Edward looks very content!! Congrats on not resisting.

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  36. Thanks for reminding me to practice parallel parking with my son. He's applied for his road test after nearly 1 1/2 years of practice. Your hummer comment made me laugh. I much prefer your little green car and your adorable passenger.

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  37. A wise purchase indeed. It seems that every other car on UK roads is a fiat 500, but them we are almost $11 per gallon here!
    Di
    x

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  38. Love your new Fiat! And what a great color. Happy driving!

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  39. And I am sure he approves of that delicious colour Pamela. I love small cars too - as you say they are so nippy.

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  40. Ciao Bella! Love your new Fiat!!! Yay for you, & Edward is sportin'!!!

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  41. A great ride...reading for me...and a smart car for you. Congrats, Pamela!

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  42. What a lovely car! Your post came at an amazing time. My son, just a tender 15.5 years old, received his beginner's licence on Wednesday. And just so you know, we take him up to our cottage to practice driving. There is no where for a kid to learn nowadays!!

    I drive a Nissan Cube. Doesn't really fit 3 dogs at any one time, but I love the squareness of it!!

    Enjoy your purchase!

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  43. Una cinquecento - I LOVE it!! so cute and feminine and nippy and easy to park, how amazing that the car hire man worked you out in a split second like that! It suits Edward beautifully too!
    have a wonderful, italian weekend
    Sharon
    xx

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  44. I love your car and its passenger! I think it is equal in cuteness/coolness to the Beetle, my own personal car. I'm on my second one, and love it. I particularly like the color of your new car!
    I think we've talked about that my father sold Pontiacs. My high school car was a Tempest convertible.
    I had Dodge Caravans all the years the kids were young, and it was such a treat to get a Beetle when they grew up. Suddenly, I took corners smoothly instead of rollicking along. Though I'll never disparage the Caravans. They were perfect for a young family.

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  45. OMG doe HE NOT LOOK MAGNIFICENT in this new VOITURE...dear one, it is so nice to see your visit today! My Etsy is not open yet, but when it IS (hopefully in a week), I will provide a link. THANK YOU and happy writing and driving!! Anita

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  46. Oh, it's an absolutely charming little car Pamela...congratulations! And Edward looks thrilled, and right at home in the drivers seat...so happy for all of you!
    Have you named it yet?? ;)
    xo J~

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  47. Swoon...thump. Sigh. The floor is always hard. I love the painting..the yellows, greens and her eyes. Of course the steering wheel and seat bespeaks of hardpacked dirt roads and Sunday adventures with picnic baskets and a bottle to chill in a small brook.

    You might like this 1920's Rambler pillow. It's from a new line I've created since I closed the store and got hit with the big C.

    http://www.jcovingtonhome.com/p-1315-the-rambler.aspx


    Hope all is well.

    Alex

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  48. Pamela, I love your new car, and Edward looks like he does, too! Very handsome in the new wheels!
    xo isa
    ps. and yes, you should most definitely buy the new boots. Yes, yes and oh, yes.

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  49. What an ADORABLE car! I want one, too! Would a cat look as good as Edward hanging out the window? No, definitely not.

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  50. ". . . the QE2. . . " - such an accurate description of those big cars! My first car was a 1975 Plymouth Duster. The behemoth idled at 17mph and if you weren't careful you were up and out of the driveway before the a.m. radio warmed up. Congratulations on the new beauty, Edward looks ready for adventure.

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  51. oh my goodness this is so darling
    I bet you look smashing it in as well!
    and Edward seems to be smashing in everything what a photogenic pooch.
    thanks for commenting on my blog as you can see I am much more of a reader than a writer.(meaning I am
    seriously blog posting challenged)

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  52. A quick added comment: Today I was driving and saw a little fiat just like your new one. And I was thinking about the photo on your blog: a nice apple green exterior with a George interior! Just a small moment, but sweet!

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  53. Yes, yes, yes!!!! I knew you would buy it, you had to and it is wonderful!! I had to laugh, you brought back memories of my Dad and I in his very grand and large maroon coloured Lincoln Contiental...1970's..think Sly Stone. :)

    My first car...I took over my mother's Silver Mercury Cougar....very cool. She got the station wagon. Come to think of it....I am now driving the station wagon and my 18 year old daughter is driving my zippy white convertible these days...something is wrong with this picture.

    Does your car come in white???

    Jeanne xxxx

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  54. Hi Pamela, listen, I left a comment on your post about your new little car, and I called it apple green with an interior of George, and I meant to say an interior of Edward. Now, you must think I am positively nuts, and quickly deleted this odd and unfathomable comment. I cannot explain why I used the name George other than I was very tired; and I do apologize. I really am not a strange person. I do so love your blog!!

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  55. Getting your license for the first time is very exciting, especially if you want to ride around the town. I can clearly see that your dog loves your car too. It's stylish, and I like its color.

    Erwin Calverley

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  56. I do think that renting cars is a good option, especially if you need to get it fixed. In addition, you get to drive a ew car, change the routine and experience new sensations. I remember that when I travelled to Argentina, the Buenos Aires rent of a car was so cheap that I was able to rent a Mercedes Benz for littney.I was so happy, I thought that I was never going to have the chance to drive such a luxurious car!

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  57. I remember when I first want for my first driving test. I was so nervous. I failed miserably but eventually with enough times I get it. Driving tests are scary.

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!