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As I’ve said before, people can tell a lot about you by the car you drive. It’s a purchase that stays with you for years, often long enough for you to create an emotional attachment. So many events in your life will become entangled with the car that drove you to them. Your car could have even provided the venue for some of the events. Once you have to send that car on its way, it’s an introspective moment. That’s what I was forced to do last week, and it got me thinking.
In the fall of 2005, my beloved Chevy Silverado was T-boned at an intersection. It wasn’t my fault, but it ended up that way on paper–but this isn’t the loss I’m referring to. Shortly after, my dad gave me the keys to his 2003 Buick Regal, and that was that. It’s only just dawning on me that I spent nearly a decade driving the car that would later come to be known as LeRoi.
It was an unhappy relationship at first. When I wrecked my truck, I just assumed I would be able to get it fixed. Sadly, there were some concerns about the frame damage. Basically, that means that unless you’re driving an extremely valuable car, it’s totaled. I went from my single cab, V8 road warrior to a sedan that looked eerily similar to the one driven by my grandmother. Don’t get me wrong, my grandmother is a lovely woman, but she’s also not out on the town tryin’ to score with some babes, either. So, naturally, I took some of my girl-related frustration out on my vehicle, rather than the part of my personality that would use a phrase like “score with some babes.”
Once I was in college, I began to gain an appreciation for my car. It was a few years old, so if it got a little dinged, it didn’t matter. Everyone else with new “college cars” would freak out about people bringing food and drinks into them, or if they found smudges on them. Not me–everyone grab some beers, we’re taking LeRoi for a spin. For those of you who don’t know, LeRoi was named after LeRoi Moore, the deceased saxophone player for the Dave Matthews Band. It was an ironic tribute, given that my car was pearly white. Not long after the name change, I lost a mirror due to some dick who drove away, and it was cheaper to replace it with a black housing. It was almost as if LeRoi was planning to slowly change his color to mirror his namesake.
A lot of things happened with and inside of LeRoi. I moved my stuff to the dorms freshman year in that car. I moved to Los Angeles in that car. I drove pledges, rescued friends in need, perpetrated pranks, and drove to New Orleans with four friends on a whim in that car. Hell, I lost my fucking virginity in that car. And now it’s gone.
LeRoi had been a problem child for the last year or so. His power steering went out, so I fixed it. He broke down during peak traffic on the 405, so I fixed it. His power steering went out again, and I left it alone. It was pretty apparent that he wasn’t long for this world. Finally, last week, he wouldn’t even start. A 10-year-old sedan with 200,000 miles on it that won’t start isn’t worth a lot. Sure, I probably could have gotten a grand or so if I had traded him in and bought something new, but I’m not exactly in a position to buy a vehicle at the moment. I took the only option available. I called a scrapyard, and they sent a tow truck to pick him up. The amount of cash they gave me was so hilariously low that I’m not even going to sully his name further by writing it here.
I had one last day to say goodbye. I cleaned out the backseat and trunk for the first time in years and I discovered a lot of things I had completely forgotten about. A stolen “John Knox Drive” street sign. A super soaker used to carry tequila during river float trips. A purse left in my backseat by a one-night stand four years ago. A set of subwoofers that haven’t worked for years. Several T-shirts I don’t remember owning. A box of .22 LR ammunition from who fucking knows what. A basketball, a football, two frisbees, and a set of golf clubs. My whole college experience summed up in a few forgotten tokens lodged in my trunk for so long I forgot they existed. Then, the next day, I watched almost 10 years of my life put up on a tow truck and hauled away forever.
It was a strange feeling. A car I initially didn’t want but came to love, in spite of so much frustration over the years, was gone. For a few hundred bucks. I got surprisingly emotional about it. I don’t know when I’ll get a new car, but I do know this: it’ll have four doors, be insanely reliable, and named Boyd to continue the tradition. Boyd and I will probably have some great times together. He might even be around to see me go from broke to successful.
But he certainly won’t be LeRoi.