• Jeni Kelsch

A Car's Purpose


My son recently bought a car. I should clarify, my son recently bought most of a car. It does have 4 wheels, although they don’t all match. It has almost all of the dashboard- and really, how important is it to the integrity of the car to have the whole dashboard? It has some “paint”, although I don’t think you can really say the car is painted. It has a mostly intact exhaust system, although I’ve been told driving it with the top up may result in carbon monoxide poisoning before the first stoplight. But my son bought most of his dream car. And he is content, for now, until he has dreams about another car, which WILL happen. I know this, I live with his father, and before that I lived with my father and my brother. Sadly for my son, this carlove is a lifelong disease, it is hereditary and there is no cure. For my sons, my father, my brother, and my husband, cars are so much more than transportation. They are sophistication, titillation, and sources of endless conversation.


I remember the first time my father said he loved me, we were standing in the garage and to be honest, I am not sure if he was talking to me or the car. I choose to think it was me. My brother was a mild-mannered boy in all respects, except when I would get into his Matchbox and Hotwheels cars and not put them back according to the system. I never knew what the system was, but it was definitely more sophisticated than organization by color. I suspect it could have been country of origin, followed by make and year. The three-tier system was too much for my five-year-old brain to retain. He always knew when I had invaded his Cartopia.


All those years of exposure to carnuts conditioned me to expect a level of car madness in my men. When I met my husband I barely noticed his carcraze. We were in college and poor, he drove a beat-up run-down piece of junk that randomly stalled and had to be pushed to the side of the road. He never complained, or even mentioned it, so I thought I was safe. But there were hints of the car disease. The first time he asked me out was after he caught me soaking the carburetor I had pulled off my VW Bug. I saw the stunned look in his eyes, and gentle flush of a guy falling for a girl. I thought it was because I was cute and witty, not due to being covered in grease and sitting on my bumper with my head under the hood. But love is love, and lucky for me, a girl who can change a tire and check her oil is a keeper. Cars may have gotten me into this relationship, but they didn’t always make it easy. My husband doesn’t know it, but we stopped having children because I became too afraid he would ask me what I thought of the wheels on the car next to us at a stoplight while I was in labor, and then I would have to kill him. I loved him too much to risk it.


As men with this disease age, their memory fades a bit. My husband is having a harder time remembering small things, like the kid’s names, but his car memory has stayed intact. Apparently, those memories are stored in a different part of the brain, probably in the more primal area, next to breathing. So I have many more years of car love to look forward to, years of picking out which headlights are a better shape, which wheels fit the car the best, which grill looks less like teeth. And I will cultivate an opinion so that my husband has someone to talk to about it all, and my boys will still call home, and my Dad and my brother will read my blog. Cause that’s what cars are for.

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