Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Death of the Maverick

Really, I hated my powder blue Ford Maverick. It had been my parents car--I don't recall its year, but maybe like a '77, '78 or '79--and I disliked it even when it was theirs. It was three on the tree manual, four door, bulky, clunky and weird-shaped, it had bad steering and no real creature comforts besides an am/fm radio. And it was powder blue--like a bad leisure suit on the road. Can't recall, exactly, how it ended up in my hands, other than my parents got a new car and sold that one to me because I needed a car, a cheap car. I think it was after I'd left the panhandle of Florida and went to Iowa City for grad school. After it was all falling apart in Iowa City and I had a good stash of student loan money and decided to drop out of the Writers Workshop there and they--Father, Mother--asked if I wanted to buy the car and I said I would.
Even though I hated it.
But I have to give the car credit. It took me down to Florida. It took me from Grayton to L.A. to Seattle on one long trip. In Seattle I drove it only once in a while--except for the haul up to Bellingham and back--but drove it enough. Being a manual transmission, Seattle's hills and steep streets were a challenge, also the fact that the brakes were bad. I remember I had Tommy bleed them back in Pensacola, but that wasn't what was wrong. So, I drove it a long time with bad breaks, until I decided to leave Seattle and I took it in and they said I needed a new master cylinder or something. I had the work done. I was poor but never really broke (the closest was in NYC, I'd say). And I drove that car back to Iowa, a long way, through Idaho and Wyoming and South Dakota. My parents were amazed, one time telling me they used to worry about driving the car around town, let alone around the country.
But I rarely thought of things like that. I had some innate trust in my vehicles.
I drove the Maverick from Iowa out to Champaign, Illinois and down to the panhandle again. I drove it around there quite a bit. Drove it back up to Champaign and back down and back up again. Let it sit while I was in NYC, came back, and drove it daily to my job at a nursery, then all over with my concrete construction job. Then came the move to Montana.
And that's when I got rid of the powder blue Ford Maverick, a car I hated.
Knowing I was going to Montana, I wanted a truck.
On a trip to see Mike and Denise in Belleville/St. Louis, they had a friend who had a white pickup for sale. It was also a Ford, I think. So, I went back later and bought the truck for like $400 or something. I drove it back to Champaign, made my--our--plans to leave (Fru and I). But, the white truck was a piece of junk. I felt stupid for buying it. My friend, Kurt, who was, is, such a good soul, who I worked concrete with and was a kindred spirit with, he felt sorry for me. He had a beat up, red, Chevy Custom-Deluxe work truck pickup and he said he'd trade it to me for the Maverick. I had to kick in a few hundred to make the deal. I also sold the white truck to Leroy and he was going to drop a new engine into the hood to make that work. (Poor Leroy--or, Le 'Roy, as he said his name was pronounced, though we still called him Lee'-roy--the engine he'd bought didn't fit into that truck and I don't know what happened to either it or him.) So, when it came time to go, I drove the red Chevy Custom-Deluxe out to Montana, Fru and I, pulling a trailer full of our stuff, her cat, M.R. riding along, too.
It turned out to be a good Montana truck. Threw in some bags of sand and salt to give the back some weight come winter. It was a work truck, so it was basic, beat down a bit--the window handles were broken and Kurt had put in vise grips to crank them up and down, windshield was cracked, there was a hole rusted in the floorboard with only a steel plate sitting over it for cover, and such--but it had a big wide bench seat, a solid bed and a big engine. I finally sold it when we came back to Champaign, after our first child was born.
But what of the Maverick?
It seems, that while I was in Montana, Kurt let Doug--the crew boss, or forman--borrow the car to go get something from the job site. Doug--a good guy, who I still see now and then when we go back to Champaign--pulled out in front of someone and the car was totaled.  Blasted wrecked smithereened gone. Kablooie. He was okay. But, I felt sorry for Kurt when he told me the story. I felt sorry for Leroy and the white worthless truck. Felt sorry for Doug (but I understood he didn't even pay Kurt back for wrecking the car). See, I got the red pickup in Montana and they got nothing but heartache . 
I was done with heartache, really. I was pretty much through with traversing the country every year or so--living my New Mexican Jumping Bean life--at least by the time I left Montana. I mean, I was committed, I was married and planning a potential family. The vagabond-me was gone (if not quite dead(still isn't quite dead)). Yes, I was a kablooie maverick, too. And I never really did mourn the destruction of the car.
I mean, I hated that ugly powder blue Ford Maverick. 
Didn't I?

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