I CAN’T DRIVE 55 – A Love Affair with My Monte Carlo©
My first car: a ’71 Monte Carlo. A 350 4-barrel V8 dual exhaust blue beauty that could do zero to sixty in 9.6 seconds. Always washed and waxed, the wheels shined and the black hard-top glistened. The neighborhood cop dubbed me “the Blue Streak.” He told me once that he could always hear me coming (who couldn’t?) but just as he’d look up, he’d catch only a glimpse of sky-blue as I sped past and never quite managed to stop for the stop sign at the end of his street.
120-watt Jensen speakers blasted shades of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. Iconic tunes blended with the haze of purple microdot, orange sunshine or the rainbow-color blotter of the day, accented of course by the sweet aroma of Colombian Gold.
A pack of EZ Widers rolling papers was always strategically wedged under the 8-track cartridge. It was the burnouts’ solution to control the ‘waah-waah’ drag of overplayed warped tape.
Nestled in the crook of the ashtray would be my favorite head-shop find: the Jimmy Carter roach clip. Our political declarations – or lack of them – spoke volumes as we passed around “Mr. Jimmy,” as he fondly became known… that presidential roach clip with a handily crafted resin peanut on the end, and liberally carved into it those famous Jimmy Carter lips and toothy grin.
With carefree spirits we’d cruise to various neighborhoods, making the rounds to support our friends and their garage bands.
We’d bar-hop nightly, jumping across county lines to catch the latest last-call. Niagara County bars closed at 3am but Erie County bars stayed open until 4am. So we’d finish up in Niagara County and then race over to our favorite Erie County bar and catch last call – and if we were lucky, the end of the band’s last set of the night. And then we’d always make a final stop for breakfast at Sambo’s or Denny’s before rolling home at dawn.
The summer days were spent moving from party to party at Oppenheim Park: sitting atop weathered picnic tables, passing joints and sharing bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 (how ever did we drink that stuff??) while cases of Labatt’s Blue and six-packs of Miller ponies sat icing in the back of someone’s van.
We’d pass the cold months sitting parked in some dark lot, bundled up and huddled, with the Chevy’s heat blasting to assuage the bitter sub-zero temperatures of Buffalo winters. We’d trip and we’d smoke and we’d drink while we laughed and played and flirted and philosophized, listening to tracks of The Guess Who, Van Halen, AC/DC and Aerosmith.
And on those rare days when I wanted to be alone, my Monte Carlo satisfied my introspection. She and I would take to the wide open highway, barreling along aimlessly. Or we’d wind through back country roads, a joint in hand and a chilled bottle of wine tucked in between the seats, usually not knowing quite where we’d end up…just content to be rolling.
Well, the seasons, they turned into years, and the years into decades and my Monte Carlo is long gone. But that car lives on forever in my heart. She was an extension of me, part of my identity really, somehow inextricably linked to my very soul. No doubt when friends look back on days gone by and happen to think of me, my Monte Carlo will spring to their minds as well because, after all, she was so much a part of me. How I miss that car!
Tell me about your first car: Did you love it? Hate it? What memories does it hold for you?
Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.