being jennifer garrett
Everyday an adventure in mediocrity
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Elegy for Venus

It was love at first sight. I knew I should be cautious, test the waters, shop around before committing myself, but I couldn't wait to have her. She was sleek and red with black leather interior and a sun roof. A sun roof! A 1992 Saturn coupe stole my heart.

My first car was a red Beretta, my father's cast off. A five-speed manual, she was my first driving challenge. I suspect learning a stick shift was as painful for her as it was for me. I liked my Beretta, but we never really got close. Her V-6 heart failed us less than a year after I inherited her. That's when I found Venus. I bought her for $2250 from some guy in New Hampshire; driving her home that Saturday was sheer joy: I had found and bought a car on my own for the first time. I played with the radio, adjusted the seat, got used to the feel of her clutch. She had a few quirks, but they only endeared her to me. When passengers asked why the car was randomly dinging as we drove, I explained that was just Venus talking to us (in reality, her seat belt sensors were no longer detecting correctly and she was trying to remind us to buckle up). And when her automatic seat belts refused to raise when we opened the car doors, I said that Venus was reluctant to let us go -- she hated to be alone. About a month after I bought her, the trunk latch broke. Since I put all my savings into buying her, a bungee cord closed her trunk permanently. Luckily, the back seat folded down so I stowed things that way. As a '92 model, she had the then-popular fold-down headlights. When her eyes were closed, she looked sly and fast. With the headlights up, she looked perky and awake. And when the motor that lifted one of the lights died, she was winking at the world. Her air conditioner coughed its last cool breath a month into the summer, and it was sun roof and rolled-down windows until fall.

We were together everyday for my hour-long commute to work and then again on the way home. We got used to each other. I learned that 35 mph was the exact speed when she liked to shift into fifth gear, and that if I babied her, I could stay in second gear after a rolling stop. She disliked the cold as much as I did, and was known to pitch a fit and stall at my first turn after an extremely cold night. I think she was arguing for a garage. She knew I liked to hit the highway running, and always gave me the burst of speed I needed to merge. And her speakers were always accomodating when I needed to turn the music up just a little bit more.

I took Venus in for her annual inspection last fall, thinking nothing amiss. The gas station attendant came back from the garage with a frown on his face and said, "You failed the emissions test." My heart sank and my immediate concern was for my wallet. I brought her to my reliable Saturn service mechanic and gave him the emissions report. I went merrily off to work, sure that he could fix anything, and Venus was worth the cost. When the phone rang later that afternoon, the blow came. It was her engine. And with 206,000 miles on her already, it would be foolhardy to attempt a repair that could cost thousands of dollars. I couldnŐt believe it. Venus was fine. She didn't drive any differently. Okay, she was using a little more gas and oil than she used to, but nothing outrageous. I couldn't just give up on her.

My dad took a look. (When anything car-related pops up, my first call is to my dad. I'm not ashamed.) It didn't look good. But I didn't want to let go. She was exactly what I wanted from a car: reliable, cute, fast. Even her name was pefect: a Saturn named Venus. How could I replace her?

I trudged wearily (and warily) to the sales department at my dealer. I would try to get as close to the original as possible. The salesman tried mightily to talk me into a sedan model -- more sensible, better price, lower insurance, blah, blah, blah. I wanted Venus! I was getting a coupe with a manual transmission and that was that. And if I could afford it, I wanted it to be red with black leather interior and a sun roof and power windows and a kick-ass stereo.

So, I did it. I bought Venus, Jr. My Saturn II. Athena's a coupe, hunter green, tan interior, with the desired sun roof and a CD player. She's been with someone else before, but I like a woman with experience. She'll know how to handle herself. And she's still young enough that we should have a long time together. I look forward to finding out all about her, quirks and all.


Only a mediocre writer is always at his best.
-- Maugham

Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.
-- Moliere


©2003 Jennifer E. Garrett