This column was written as MJ (Married Janet).
For our anniversary this week, I got exactly what I was wishing for, but never expected to receive. Don’t you just love it when that happens?
Jim bought me a new Nissan Pathfinder. He secretly parked it in the garage, then called me in under false pretenses. I tell ya, I’ve never been more surprised. (And I pride myself on being tough to surprise.)
Who would have ever thought he had actually been listening as I lavished praise on every Pathfinder I spotted on the freeway, lamenting its advantages over my 10-year-old Toyota I fondly refer to as my “Putt-Putt.”
I was sure he pretended to listen, but I rambled on anyway.
I pointed out the extensive room the Pathfinder would offer the dogs so they could stretch out in back. No more sharing the front seat with 130 pounds of fur and slobber.
I explained how the Christmas tree would fit effortlessly into the back of a Pathfinder instead of strapped to the roof of that pitifully small car, hanging precariously down the back window and blocking my rear view. Also, the extra height, I reasoned, would allow me to see potential problems up ahead, unlike my current car.
Knowing my Toyota had another 50,000 miles left to roam, it was a sure bet I’d be completely gray before it went to car heaven. And the fact was, I didn’t actually need a new car. So I was quite surprised and pleased with my anniversary present (even being a politically incorrect gas guzzler).
And now here’s the dilemma; I find I’m sentimentally attached to my little blue car. I want to keep it. Now don’t get me wrong; I love my yuppie new SUV. It’s even the color I’d have chosen. But I have so many good memories associated with my Toyota that I look at it as an old friend instead of a mass of cold, painted steel.
As I write this, I can see my Putt-Putt parked outside our house. The interior is the cleanest it’s ever been because I emptied the contents and transferred them to my Pathfinder. The layer of dirt covering its body gives the metallic blue a silver appearance. Sadly, it looks abandoned.
Inside, the cloth on the driver seat is worn down to the foam. The blue carpet on the front passenger side sports white paint, a reminder of a faux painting class I once took. My personalized license is framed by the saying, “Tennis Forever, Housework Whenever.” The clock has never been set, the ashtrays never used.
From my office window I can see the cracked windshield I never bothered to fix (the result of an errant rock I once encountered on the freeway). Driving during the next few months, I watched that crack travel around my windshield like a roller coaster, taking dips and turns before it finally ended its voyage behind the passenger side windshield wiper.
My trusty Toyota took Jim to the hospital when he had kidney stones and carried me there when I dislocated my kneecap; I earned my only speeding ticket in it (followed by a Saturday at driving school); It got me to and from Lake Tahoe every summer for 10 years; I traveled to San Francisco State University in it 4 days a week for 2 1/2 years. I adore that car.
My putt-putt got 27 miles to the gallon and never ran out of gas, even when the needle hovered precariously in the you-should-seriously-stop-for-gas zone. It never stalled. It never crashed. In fact, it sports just one little dent from an errant Safeway shopping cart.
But now I have a champagne-colored, new-car-smelling Pathfinder, with every amenity I desired. I love it and can’t wait to see where it takes me.
But with beige interior that screams stain me!, and with neither a dent nor scratch, I’m having second thoughts about tarnishing its pristine appearance. Therefore, I’ve decided the only logical conclusion is to keep my Putt-Putt.
Seriously, how else will I carry the dogs and haul the Christmas tree?