Beaters; A Love Story

by Pasadena Adjacent


Some refer to them as beaters, we refer to them as family. Four months ago our’s turned into a one car Family. The 1989 Buick Skylark belonging to Mr V decided to ask for a new transmission (it’s second). The last standing V6 combustable engine connecting me to my father. It was his G.E. company car before he took early retirement and died.

In every relationship where one finds a beloved member of the family on life support, (Bertie the Buick/not my father) one has to ask “are heroic measures worth it?” But Mr V kept putting the question off. Mr V without a car is not a good thing. Constant togetherness is not a good thing. Finding one’s truck regularly on empty is not a good thing.

I get it, truly I do. The car is marked my memory. Like when rain crept through the rusted roof’s interior causing the overhead felt lining to drape in gaping lumps. Mr V’s solution? grab a staple gun and bang bang bang bang bang. Problem solved. Those pesky view reducing obstructions became manageable pimples. But alas, it wasn’t long term. Mr V’ is 6’4.” The button on top of his baseball cap began shredding ‘said pimples’ into felt stalactites – which we learned to live with. Of course there’s the ignored dent in the front where Chef King Walter got a little too excited about a ‘days end’ Yucca Valley beer run. Then the time Mr V volunteered to drive his former gallerist’ downtown for a studio visit.  They weren’t expecting to find themselves sitting on curbside couch cushions where once a back seat existed. I think it sealed the deal. They couldn’t stop laughing. A kind of real time “Throw Back Thursday” minus the pot, Pink Floyd and acne.

Most of the electrical elements were shot. It took 40 minutes, in half inch increments, to get the only remotely working window up or down. We kept it open because you had to open the door from outside the car. Once the seat springs were gone, I stopped diving Bertie. I could no longer see over the hood. The trunk had to be held open with a walking cane. The red plexy glass, duck taped over the brake lights, became a focus of the South Pasadena Police. Guess one could say the cons were stacking up. Pros? the state of California has a program that gives owners of beaters 1500 dollars to get them off the road. It was the scent of money and the states’ approaching dead line that led to “death do us part.” And the good luck that they didn’t ask Mr V to put the car in reverse – something the car no longer did. A cars got to be in working order to score that check.

The above photo was taken for the family photo album – our last time together with Bertie. I cried. I cried further when it became apparent that every attempt on my part to find Mr V a car was met with resistance and anger. And he hadn’t lifted a finger in that direction. Mr V is Scottish. Mr V doesn’t like to spend money. Mr V likes my truck. Mr V thinks a loaf of bread is under a dollar (well not really) but you get the picture. He could not wrap his mind around the idea that a five year old asian made car with a 90,000 miles could have an asking price of 8,000.00 or more. I shouted to the universe, via my blog… and it shouted back…via e-mail. Thank you Bellis. She introduced me to Amy and Sheldon. A young writer and her dutch mathematician husband from Caltech. As Mr V is cheap, the dutch are efficient, prepared and had a little asian cutie they needed to re-home.

This could work. This did work.  She has four doors, 146,000 miles and a sparkly fairy on her butt. I call her Sally.