It’s that time of year again: the time when I read The Catcher in the Rye and start saying “god damn” in every god damn sentence. Every year when I read it, I want to start writing in J.D. Salinger style. So tonight I wrote this:
Up until a year ago, I drove a yellow 1990 Honda CRX. I loved that car. I bought it when I was 18, right before I moved away to college. I have always liked yellow cars, even though I really do hate the color yellow. But a yellow car, I thought that meant something: like its owner was real unique or special in some way.
In college, my friends would mock my yellow car and call it stupid names like the taxi or the banana-mobile. They were so creative, calling something that’s yellow a name of something else that’s yellow. I have terrible taste in friends, I really do. If you want to know the truth, I wouldn’t have any friends at all if I didn’t get so lonely by myself all the time.
But even though they mocked it, they still all wanted me to drive them around in it. A lot of them didn’t have their own cars on account of being from out-of-state and all. I guess they thought it gave them a free pass to not have to be responsible and provide their own transportation, but I didn’t buy it. I just thought they were lazy.
I bit my tongue hundreds of times when my classmates would be in the passenger seat while I drove them around on their errands, and would say they had a car back home. I’m surprised I have a tongue at all anymore, with how much I chewed it up. No they didn’t. They were just talking about their parents’ car they drove around. The only way any of these people would have a car was if their parents bought it for them. I was the only one out of all my friends who was already a responsible adult capable of paying for car repairs and holding down a job that required working more than 10 hours a week.
If I didn’t bite my tongue, I wouldn’t have any friends at all. If I told people what I was thinking every time I was thinking something, I would offend a whole roomful of people. I really do have an opinion about everything. And no one wants to hear your opinion if they don’t have the same one.
Last year I traded in my yellow CRX. I really didn’t want to. I guess I knew the day would come at some point, but I wasn’t prepared for it. I thought I would drive that car until it was smoking and a spark plug sparked and I had to jump out of the cab before the entire engine exploded. But it never came to that and I traded it in anyway. The car salesman was a young pimply boy about the age I was when I bought that car in the first place.
He offered me $800 for it and I looked at him like he was crazy. “You know that will be the only thing that still exists after the Apocalypse,” I said. He looked at me like he didn’t even know what the Apocalypse was. He probably didn’t. He looked like a real moron.
“Well, most people would offer you less than that, it’s pretty old and it’s got a lot of miles,” he said. I wanted to tell him his mom was old and had a lot of miles, but I thought better of it. ‘Just keep your mouth shut and buy your responsible, dependable new car,’ I told myself. Plus, his mom probably wasn’t all that old, any way; probably just a couple years older than me. Now that was a depressing thought: that if I got pregnant right after I had my first period, I could have a kid almost the age of this pimply car salesman. I kept thinking about that while I signed these thousands of documents they kept shoving in my face.
I left my yellow car in the lot next to all those shiny new models. It looked so sad and dirty and old next to its showoff neighbors. No one was going to buy it. The car dealership was probably just going to sell the parts or auction it off. I felt like I betrayed my car that had never betrayed me. My loyalty was only worth a measly $800. I was real emotional about the whole thing. I even cried while I drove off in my new car.
Not the feeling you’re supposed to have when you get a new car, I suppose. I suppose you should be busy setting your radio presets, because everyone who gets a new car immediately sets the radio presets. But not me: I’m a nostalgic kind of person. If I see moon pies at a gas station, I’ll buy twenty of them. I didn’t even set my presets for a whole month. I would just drive in silence while mourning my CRX and hating the new car smell everyone else is so crazy about.
(To read the real-life version of my car-selling story and see how I can’t write about anything I don’t know about first-hand, click here.)