My Bessie - My Sweet Ol' Bessie

In a few hours, I'll be saying goodbye to Ol' Bessie -- my 2000 Ford Taurus that I've had for the past six years. This past fall, the head gasket cracked and rendered the car, for most intents and purposes, undriveable. The engine would overheat after every trip, no matter the distance, then started uncontrollably leaking antifreeze. For the past two months, Ol' Bessie has been parked in my mother's driveway in Yorkville, 45 minutes away from me, and I've been trying to sell it for those two months. Nobody showed much interest, save for one guy who told me he'd come to look at it five times and never showed up each time. Last week, suddenly, I've been getting calls left and right. I can't even keep up with all the calls!

Tonight, one of those callers, John, is going to be taking a second look at it and probably purchasing it for the incredibly low price of $400.

I decided to do some last-minute maintenance on the car -- charging the battery, putting some gas in the tank, putting some fresh antifreeze in, vacuuming, cleaning the interior and exterior. While I was driving it down a winding country road to the nearest gas station to put some gas in the tank and buy another pack of cigarettes, I was reminded of all the times I had with Ol' Bessie; I was reminded of the roads she and I had driven, the songs we had listened to, the passengers that shared in our journeys; and, of course, I was reminded that this was the last time I'd ever be driving her. And that realization, I will admit, brought a tear to my eye.

There's something to be said about a man's relationship with his car.

Our cars, in all reality, become extensions of our own personalities. Perhaps the man becomes an extension of his car's personality. This has been true since the fifties -- the greasers drove their T-Birds, the geeks drove Yugos, the jocks drove convertibles and sports cars, the King of the Prom drove his dad's Chevy Malibu, the beach bums and surfer dudes drove woodies and the middle class guys that were just getting by drove sedans and station wagons. The same has held true throughout the years.

I, of course, represent the latter of these factions -- there's nothing special about my job, about my interests or hobbies, or, really, about my life. So, in turn, there's really nothing that special about my car. It's just an ordinary, run of the mill, four-door sedan. My Ford Taurus is about one in tens of millions of sedans exactly like it. It has scratches and dings, a weird smell and is starting to rust around the rear wheel -- again, an extension of its driver's personality.

Bessie and I had some fond memories together: road trips all over the country, long nights of country roads and soothing music, escapes and destinations. Bessie met more of my friends than my parents ever did, Bessie met girlfriends that my parents never did. Bessie experienced arguments and fights, makeups and breakups. Bessie opened her doors (quite literally) to hitchhikers, vagabonds and ragamuffins and took them wherever they needed to be. Bessie was there when I graduated high school and she was there when I graduated university.

Bessie, in all truthfulness, has been the one constant in my life for the past six years. Despite my many changes, -- relationally, personally, professionally, environmentally, socially -- she remained my blue 2000 Ford Taurus. Sure, over the years she experienced some wear and tear, but she was reliable. More reliable than my jobs, more reliable than my family and, sometimes, more reliable than my friends. When the chips were down and I needed to get away to forget about life for a while, I knew I could count on Bessie to take me wherever I needed to be.

And we always got there.

I'm going to miss that old girl. Don't get me wrong, I love my new car, Short Round (he's Japanese, small and round, so I figured naming him after the small Korean boy from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was befitting enough), and maybe, over time, I'll come to develop the same emotional attachment to him that I had with Bessie, but I'm still in that tough transitory period.

Will I ever learn to love again...?

In a few days, a new guy, John, will be driving Bessie to and fro. He's a good man -- a family man -- and I hope he treats her well. I hope she treats him well, too.

Maybe, someday, John will be driving Bessie and I will be driving Short Round and we'll see each other on the street. And, on that day, I hope we'll smile at one another as we pass by, on the road to our separate destinations.

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