I don’t know how to describe it…That first touch of the steering wheel, its cold leather smooth to the touch, warmed by the tingling sensation in your fingertips that you can’t get rid of. That vibration of the pedals against your feet when the engine roars to life; that roar that is just so satisfying. I didn’t know then and I don’t know now, but what I did know at once was that car was meant for me. Black as night, the slick 2 door Chrysler Sebring sat in the lot beckoning me. My father, he say the lights behind my eyes glow with admiration, and he signed it into my name without a pause.
It was mine…I stepped into the car for the first time, the cloth seats hugging me, welcoming its new owner. I ran my hand over the dashboard and onto the steering wheel. Kneading the leather under my knuckles as I clutched it tight; I turned the key and felt the faint purr of the engine. I looked at my parents with a longing look in my eyes. They understood…
“See you at home.” They said.
I was flying down the highway now. I felt on top of the world as my black piece of freedom hugged the curves. The slightest touch of the gas pedal would throw me back into the seat, and I snuggled in, letting my car take me for a ride. (Let’s see what this baby can do) I said to myself as I punched the gas and launched myself down memory lane.
I was flying now, held up by an 8 year old hand. Imagining rolling down route 66 in a red hot Ferrari, crashing through trees and brush in my oversize Ford pick-up truck. 360’s and aerial flips were nothing to these cars. Thrust into the air by imaginary rocket engines and shooting fake laser beams out of their headlights. But these cars didn’t have leather or a steering wheel; these cars were plastic and rolled on tiny wheels.
“Do you think we ever have one of these for real?” I asked my brother sitting next to me rolling a ’69 corvette in his fingers.
“I don’t know,” he said back to me, not looking up from the ‘Hot Wheels’ logo printed on the bottom of the car. “If I ever get one it will be able to fly and disappear into thin air!” We laughed for a while, until we got distracted by the 4 car pile-up the corvette was about to be launched into. Pushing the beat up car across the floor, the crash was spectacular. A mess of metal and rubber, headlights flashing, a horn was blaring in the distance.
I rode along my memories for a while, till the bright lights brought me back to the present. Instead of a plastic toy car, instead I swerved to miss the oversize, fully loaded, very real Ford pick-up truck as it barreled down the lane coming at me. I felt the tires skid across the asphalt, the smooth leather steering wheel clutched tightly in my hand. My knuckles were turning as white as my wide eyes. The half- ton truck barely missed my new piece of property and I was safe and sound, sideways on the highway, panting heavily…
I sat there for a while…thinking about plastic car crashes, and innocent times when I was 8, playing with Hot Wheels with my brother. I don’t know how to describe it. The cold leather of the steering wheel and the smell of brand new rubber burning on the pavement blurred my senses. The cold night air was now creeping through my open windows and I started to shiver.
Later that night when I pulled my brand new car in the garage, I shut off the engine and ran my hand along the dashboard… (Thanks for showing me that the other cars aren’t made out of plastic)
~Kurtis the Red
(Rest in peace Madelyn…I will miss you, and my first joy ride will forever be yours.)