Late this afternoon, I was taking our Princess to her gymnastics and dance classes, which she loves. She was listening to music and I was in my own world as well when I saw it. Up ahead.
Sure, it was on the back of a wrecker, but still.
An MGB. You just don’t see those very often anymore.
I pointed it out to our Princess. “I used to have one of those,” I said. “I drove it to high school.”
She looked up, saw it, nodded, and went on with her life, nonplussed.
Well, sure, it wasn’t the Batmobile or Millennium Falcon, but show some respect, girl.
It took me back. Way back. After I turned sixteen, my Daddy and I went car shopping together. The first thing I’d check in each vehicle was the radio of course. He would shake his head and turn it off. Ahem. The first car we looked at was a Dodge–maybe a Charger, but I’m not sure. It was fairly old and had a cracked head. I remember being assigned to write our own “Declaration of Independence” for English Composition my junior year. I wrote mine on why it wasn’t a bad idea for me to get that car. “A cracked head’s no big deal; folks walk around all the time with those.” But Daddy voted no, since he’d be the one bringing it up to code, so to speak. So…..next.
I don’t remember how many others we looked at before we found her. My Grey Goose. A 1970 silver/grey MGB. Four in the floor. Some rusted out spots in the floor too as I recall, but I didn’t care. As I debated its merits in my mind, my Daddy said something that I have never forgotten, and it has affected many of my decisions since.
He went on to say, “If you want an MGB, a convertible, don’t settle. Get it now. The time is gonna come when you won’t have that choice. One day when you have a family, you will need a vehicle with more room. If you want something like this, now is the time.”
And so it was.
We brought her home, and I was thrilled. She needed some work. So the summer I was in Washington for a week with the Flint Electric Tour and Governor’s Honors Program in Valdosta for six weeks, Daddy tweaked the engine, made repairs, and did what needed doing. Actually I’m making stuff up–I don’t know what all he did. She needed a lot of work, but the only thing I remember is him taking plywood and putting tar on it and creating a new and improved, without holes floorboard for my new car. It was brilliant. Daddy was brilliant.
My whole summer away–the summer before my senior year, I kept a picture with me of my Grey Goose. I hoped that I would be able to drive her when I first got back, but she wasn’t quite ready. I had driven the family’s Fiat Station Wagon when I needed to drive anytime during my junior year. I was thrilled, when the car was ready, to be driving Sister, who was a freshman, and myself to school and back during my senior year. No more school buses for us. We had arrived.
Daddy got her all ready, and Sister and I made the twenty-minute drive to and from the high school together. One day in particular, we had discussed that morning that if we hurried out after school, we might have time to take down the soft top, and drive home convertible style. It was a beautiful day. But of course we didn’t want to be the last ones leaving the parking lot, and I had to drop Sister off and get to work–thus the need to hurry.
As we passed in the hall, each on our way in the crowd to our fifth period class–the day almost over, I called out to Sister, “Hey, you still able to get out there quickly?”
She nodded and waved as she moved along the current of students with her friends. My friend walking along had heard us and asked, “What are y’all doing after school?”
Without thinking, I answered, “Taking the top off so we can drive home.”
Y’all. Have you ever met a high school boy?
Yep. Of course it went there. The whole joke that my sister and I were driving home topless. Which we were, I suppose. It was only made funnier by the fact that I practically had NERD stamped across my forehead back then. Ahem. (We are not talking about now, people.)
And that was the joke for a while. That Sister and I drove topless.
Ah, memories. You have to laugh, don’t you?
We thought we were so cool, driving by the middle school with all the sixth through eighth graders hanging around outside waiting for their buses to come, with our radio blaring songs like Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” on one of the many songs I loved from my “Chicago 17” cassette tape. And by blaring, I mean at a level that we could hear the music, but not so much that we couldn’t hear any emergency vehicles that might approach. Safety first. I mean, being cool has its boundaries.
Tonight I’m thankful for that lesson my Daddy taught me. So many times I’ve heard his voice, “Don’t settle.” And it has saved me from making poor choices on more than one occasion. I’m grateful for this unexpected trip down memory lane. I loved my MGB that got me through my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. I can still see her parked in the same parking lot I parked my family-mobile in for Alumnae weekend four days ago–behind the first floor of Persons dorm. Most of all I appreciate my Daddy having some sort of amazing vision of where life would take me, knowing that if I passed by the joy of having my “fun” car as a young person, I might not get another opportunity. What a gift that was. I sure loved that car, and even more I love my Daddy who made it possible.
After all, how often does a girl get a chance to drive topless?
Love to all.