By Elaine Viets
"Blackie’s an ’86 Jaguar," I said.
"He’s in good shape," the man said. "If you ever want to sell, here’s my card." It said "Miami Movie Cars."
He was driving a beat-up black Crown Vic police car. He said the film makers were going to shoot a TV show episode and a 1980's cocaine cowboy film in Fort Lauderdale and South Beach.
Sell Blackie? Never! Blackie is the second great love of my life after Don, and my husband’s not on the market, either.
Blackie and I were enormously flattered, though, and drove away trailing stardust. Blackie is short for Black Beauty. With his chrome and red leather interior, this Jaguar is one cool cat.
I’ve named all my cars, except one, because they have distinct personalities.
My first car was the Blue Bomber, an oil-aholic Plymouth Fury. I bought it for $450 dollars to drive to college. It looked like the blue Fury in this photo, except my Blue Bomber guzzled so much oil, I carried a case of oil in my trunk. We could usually make it to class and back on one refill. The Blue Bomber rode in a permanent cloud of stinky blue smoke. Someone gave me a "Have You Thanked a Green Plant Today?" sticker, but I was too embarrassed to put it on the bumper. No one could have read it through the smoke, anyway.
When Ruby had her day, I was in the throes of a corporate career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I bought a boxy Volvo to go with my boxy dress-for-success suits. The Volvo was as sensible as a pair of walking shoes, and about as stylish. This Volvo had one of the first catalytic converters and I drove it mostly back and forth to the repair shop. I never warmed to that car and never named it. Not officially, anyway. But I sure called it a lot of names when I waited for a tow truck.
Then, in the 1980s, Ralph Ingersoll started the St. Louis Sun and tried to hire me as a columnist. My paper, the Post-Dispatch, gave me an outrageous bonus to stay. I bought suede and leather outfits and a 1986 Isis blue Jaguar. The rest I spent foolishly. (Did I mention I was through with sensible?) I named my blue Jaguar Ralph, in honor of the newspaper mogul who made him possible.
I was cruising along I-95 in Miami one afternoon when the driver’s side footwell went clattering down the highway. It had rusted clean through and I could see the road between my shaking legs while driving 70 miles an hour. Fortunately, the brake and gas pedals were still there and I made it home. But Ralph’s last ride was nearly my last ride and I had to give him up.
I tried to like newer cars, but none of them had the same sleek style or the feel of the road. Then Peter, my mechanic, found another ’86 for sale. This car was white with a red leather interior. I had him painted black and Black Beauty was born.
There’s just one problem. Some people insist on calling him "she."
Black Beauty is all man. Can’t you tell by the tail pipe?
What do you name your car?
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