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Fay's Beach Buzz

Life in the Fast Lane

2008 Fay Jacobs

Fay Jacobs

I never thought I'd fall in love like this again.

Gleefully giddy and blushing when I think of her, I'm in the full throes of a mad affair. Don't phone the National Enquirer, my mate not only approves, but she introduced me to her.

I'm in love with my car - head-over-heels about my previously-owned, gently-used six-year old BMW.

I swore off woman-car love in the disco era when my silver-blue 1964 Corvette convertible was hauled off on a flat bed truck, its back wheels having fallen off. We'd been together through thick (often) and thin (not so often), but the speed bump I hit that day ended it all. I'd known her most of my life.

I was there in 1964, on Lincoln's birthday (when we actually celebrated it on Feb.12) picking up my mother's new sports car from the dealer. It cost a whopping $4000 and everybody thought my father was nutty for buying it for his wife.

By 1968 I was permitted to drive the car to college, 250 miles from New York City to Washington, DC. Sadly, I'd learned to drive in Manhattan, meaning I could parallel park like a champ but had never driven over 30 mph. You can imagine what happened when I hit the Jersey Turnpike. By the Delaware Memorial Bridge I'd lost count of the number of middle finger salutes I'd gotten for creeping along in the right lane. It took me nine hours to get to DC and I arrived on campus shaken and needing controlled substances. Fortunately, in 1968, campus was awash with them.

I re-learned to drive in that sports car, and adored her, even as she fish-tailed away from stop signs, skidded wildly in the snow, and, in her later years, required an entire roll of Bounty Quicker-Picker-upper paper towels stuffed above the visors to keep me dry on rainy days. It was true love.

Together, we campaigned, then cried for Bobby Kennedy and sat transfixed by the car radio as men walked on the moon. My love drove me to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to march against the Vietnam War, waited outside countless theatres while I rehearsed shows, honked for joy when Tricky Dick Nixon resigned, witnessed the dawn of disco and breathed her last just about the same time my heterosexuality did.

After that, my personal affairs turned happy, but I pined mightily for that car. What followed was a succession of unsatisfying relationships - a station wagon I called the Trashmobile; an old Dodge that was so broad in the beam I once ripped off the door handles on both sides getting into a parking space. Then I had some kind of American Motors contraption with no braking system whatever, which had me doing wheelies at red lights. Enter the cute little blue 1980 Chevette Bonnie drove when I met her. The very name Chevette, so near and yet so far.

By then I was out and proud, with Martina Navratilova telling me to buy a Subaru. I liked the Lesbaru. What followed was a bout of serial monogamy, as I purchased one Subaru after another, winding up with a 1998 anniversary edition Outback. We were comfortable together. Not exciting, but a marriage of convenience.

But one day that damned Subaru turned on me, blew a head gasket and left me in the lurch. For a while I made do driving Bonnie's Tracker, but it rode like a farm vehicle, skated across multiple lanes in the wind and was, to be honest, above me. So far, in fact, I had trouble climbing into the cockpit.

But Bonnie and I couldn't decide what kind of car I should get, and frankly I was not about to pay what it used to cost to buy a house for a car that didn't send shivers up my spine. "I want my old car back," I'd whine and Bonnie knew I was talking about a 42- year-old Corvette.

One could be had, alright, but only at the cost of a new Lexus. Besides, the phrase "high maintenance girlfriend" clearly applied.

Even if I could have paid the ransom for a mid-century Corvette, the thing would have added twenty minutes to my daily commute: ten minutes to get myself down into the buckets and another ten minutes to pry myself out. Those were the days, my friend, and they were over.

Finally, one morning we stopped at a used car lot and I spied a sweet little sea-foam BMW convertible on the lot. One look and I heard violins. I instantly wanted to load it into a U-Haul and have it move in with me.

Surprisingly, its price tag was less than I'd pay for a new General Motors sedan and a loveless marriage.

So off we went, my Beamer and I, on our honeymoon. But I soon realized the two of us had some issues.

First, my garage was impenetrable. Subarus and Trackers are hardy outdoor machines, not requiring the designation "garage-kept" after their names in ads. But for the new baby, shelter was a priority. And our garage was a solid waste landfill. I called 1-800- Got-Crap and divested ourselves of years of debris.

Then I determined that my love and I needed prophylactics - protection from the still over-stuffed tool and book-filled garage. A Beamer condom?

Bonnie and I headed downtown to find the next best thing: noodles. Not Chicken Lo Mein, but the Styrofoam noodles that keep me afloat in a swimming pool. At the store, we picked out several pink and purple perpendicular noodles and marched to the cash register. "What kinky things are you girls up to?" We just smiled.

Back home, I stapled the noodles to the pertinent book shelve edges, blunting every possible surface where a car door could connect. I gave her wide berth. Then I screwed my decorative Schnauzer plate to the front bumper and adhered the rainbow cling-on to the back.

Having spent the past two decades driving unloved and dangerously unwashed vehicles doubling as trashcans and fast-food wrapper repositories, I'd have to change my foolish ways.

I vowed there would be no trash in my car. No eating. No coffee drinking. No scratching off scratch-offs. I would wash the car weekly and have it detailed frequently.

And I've done pretty well. I get a senior citizen discount at the car wash (my first, but I'm so cheap, I don't mind). I remove all debris from the car nightly.

I love my new car. I think this relationship is going to last.
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Fay Jacobs, a native New Yorker, spent 30 years in the Washington, DC area working in journalism, theater and public relations. She has contributed feature stories and columns to such publications as The Advocate, OUTtraveler, The Baltimore Sun, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, The Washington Blade, The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware Beach Life and more.

Since 1995 she has been a regular columnist for Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, and won the national 1997 Vice Versa Award for excellence. Her columns are collected in the books, As I Lay Frying: a Rehoboth Beach Memoir and the newly published Fried & True - Tales of Rehoboth Beach.

Fay is Publisher and Managing Editor of A&M Books, the publisher of the 14 classic Sarah Aldridge novels.

She and Bonnie, her partner of 25 years, relocated to Rehoboth Beach, DE in 1999. They have two Miniature Schnauzers and a riding lawn mower.

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