It happens constantly. People talking about cars, and admiring cars, and pointing and being all, “I’m gonna own that car one day.” And truthfully, I could not care less on my own end. But there was one car I had and loved, that was unequivocally awesome. That was my powder blue, 1981 Ford Fairmont station wagon.
I got it for free. My friend Scott had it sitting in his yard. As you do. He wasn’t using it, so he gave it to me. As thanks, I gave him the Beatles Anthology, which in 1995 was new, and it was exciting hearing voices from Beyond The Grave. Scott always said he got the better end of the deal.
But I loved that car. It was so exciting! Evidence one: About a week after I started driving it, it needed a new transmission. Awww, poor car!
The Fairmont came off all grumpy, but it was a delicate creature. At this time, I was dating Jim who as luck would have it, was a mechanic. Or became one after this, that timeline always confuses me? Either way, he knew about cars, and it was good to have him around to show me that with old ones, the normal process of simply starting it up is a new language to be learned and mastered. And that I needed to rev the engine at lights to keep it happy.
But one night the engine would not rev. It was dead. Because of the aforementioned transmission, you see. And somehow, we had to get it from Jim’s house in North Baldwin to my place in South Baldwin. About a 3 1/2–mile difference.
How did this happen? No, there were no tow trucks! No, there was no AAA! Rather, Jim got in his own piece o’ crap car and SLAMMED into the back of my car, just to give it enough momentum to go further. This went on the entire time. SLAM!!! Roll, roll, stop…SLAM!!! All the way home. It really is a wonder and sort of representative of my town that no one called the cops, you know? But that was of course awesome. Real-life bumper cars.
Also awesome was this one time after work at CVS. Part of the Baldwin Crew, Maureen, did not yet have her license. So obviously she needed to drive my car. Whatever, she needed practice, and the parking lot was empty. So off she went! With Jim in the passenger seat and Scott in the backseat. And then around she went! To circle the store. Right before they turned the corner, Scott climbed out the window and got on the roof of the car. It was awesome! And hilarious! I watched them drive away and laughed and laughed…
…until they came back around followed by a police car! Then there was this slapstick rigmarole to convince the cop that Jim, a licensed driver, was the one carrying humans on the roof. I don’t know if the cop completely bought it, but since I wasn’t even in the car, I think my palpable “I’ve never even had sex or a beer, Officer” terror made him feel awkward. All’s well that ends well!
Time went on, and the car got awesomer. By dating a Phish head (Phishead?), I needed no weed to discover that store I can never remember the name of that store in Island Park. Like Utopia, but less poser-y. I think. Either way, they had more flower stickers than you can shake a stick(er?) at, and my car was adorned with big, shiny flowers and happy faces, as well as a Phish bumper sticker that I didn’t understand but thought was funny because it had the word “possum” in it. This was before the Disney Backyard Horror of ’98, you see. Another story for another time.
What truly completed the awesomeness of the Ford Fairmont was a serendipitous find from the Special Olympics. They were being held in a school, and Red Lobster was helping out at a table. On my way to go to the restroom or something, I came across *it.* A life-sized, black and white picture of a head on a popsicle stick. That head? Belonged to none other than Mr. Drummond. And this was during that awkward time where a lot of people thought he was dead, before the Internet.
Why Conrad Bain’s face was adorning such art, I will never know. But obviously, I needed this Mr. Drummond head. I wasn’t sure why exactly, just that it was an important acquisition, life-wise.
I separated the paper from the popsicle stick and taped it to the Fairmont’s back windshield. Traffic isn’t quite so stressful when you realize that whoever is stuck behind you might be having some wicked acid flashbacks, or at the very least is probably very confused.
Of course, it couldn’t last forever. You don’t adopt a sickly 15-year-old dog and expect to grow old with him. You just appreciate your time together while you have it. And I sure did. I got to meet so many neighbors, people who very politely told me never to dare park that thing in front of their houses again. Sigh, good times.
So, Lexuses, Schmexuses. While it would be nice to have a car these days, to be sure, the Ford Fairmont set the bar for all future cars in terms of aesthetic appeal. Flower stickers > heated seats, IMO. After all, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum!