My life before her was miserable. I suffered through nights of eating bonbons and watching Waiting to Exhale when all of my friends had a ride to the club, except me. My family kept judging me. “Look at him, 27 and no car. Is he gay?” I suffered humiliation after humiliation, being invited to far off lands like Long Island, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania. Every wedding invite said “Eric Jude Cortes and Car,” and I’d have to nervously explain that my car was “in the shop right now.” Sad, but true.
Some might say she found me. After trying everything – happenstance, friends, the car show scene, and finally the internet, I was beginning to lose hope. I’d be car-less forever, I’d be forced to date only women too poor to give a salchicha about taking the subway on dates. And then it came. “I know a guy.” All Italian-Americans “know a guy,” and my guy had a car. She was beat up looking, had been around the block a few million times, and, most importantly, she was cheap.
It was true love. We spent hours together. There were late night trips to get ice-cream, whirlwind road-trips to Montreal, and group dates with the Being Latino crew to get sandwiches. My schedule filled up and my family stopped talking about me. My father even stopped referring to me as “El Bobo” around his friends. Two words: changed life.
But I lost her. The signs were there from the beginning; like how my fiancée’s family kept instinctively warning her about getting in a car with me. A busted headlight, a mirror smacked off by a dollar van, a broken timing belt on the highway. I had to face it, she was dying. The end happened suddenly: a blow from behind by a rush-hour commuter. I held out some hope for survival but the tow pound operator, calmly shook his head “total loss.” I was crushed. As I said my final farewell, and removed my EZ-Pass, in my heart of hearts, I knew that she could never truly be replaced.
And so I leave you with an epilogue of hope. Sometimes losing a loved car is a blessing. It teaches us to respect our possessions. We learn not to take things for granted. And finally, we learn that the best way to truly enjoy a good car is by spending some time driving around a few bad ones.
Disclaimer: As in my Malta piece, most of this story is a complete lie.