“Could you call me Cordelia?”
Such was the plea of literary character, Anne of Green Gables, who disliked her plain name and was often in “the depths of despair”.
I’m not quite in “the depths” (it takes lack of sunshine and being out of ice cream to put me there), but I do get nervous when it comes to naming. After all, bad name-related things can happen to anyone, in real life and in literature . Kevin Henke’s loveable mouse, Chrysanthemum, who had always basked in her moniker, had a crisis when she went to school.
Who knew kindergarten mice could be so cruel?
I perhaps do more naming than the average person, although I don’t have children or pets. I write children’s stories (lots of loaded naming decisions there) and disguise my friends’ names for this blog (lots of amusing naming decisions there) and I have a mini collection of vintage vehicles. A vintage vehicle has such personality that I think it just naturally begs for a name.
If you think that’s ridiculous, remember, I have named derelict buildings that have tried to kill me and that I’ve known for a mere 30 seconds, too.
So, name the vehicles, I do. Even though, there are some that advise against it. They seem to think that
- it’s tacky and low-brow, or
- it’s sort of like naming a farmyard chicken or cow that you’re later going to eat for dinner.
Professional distance is the sensible advice one is given.
But, I’ve never been one for sensible advice. Even though, I have discovered that naming a car can be more than slightly dangerous to my heart, in case they happen to be lost in a fire.
Still, I persist. And now, I need your help.
First, a little background:
Naming our 1973 Beetle was easy: it was yellow and white and daisies are my favourite flower.
Said beloved car, lost in fire last November 24th. Slight pause for tissues here…
Okay, I’m back.
I’m pretty sure her spirit hangs out in the Boler when we’re not using it.
That makes me happy.
Another slight pause for tissues…
Our not-vintage, red, small SUV started off as “The Chariot of Fire” and got refined to “Harriet the Chariot” and now, simply shortened to “Harriet.”
Even Practical Man sometimes goes along with the naming of a practical vehicle. Especially when an attack deer hit Harriet last year and we nearly lost her, even though she had saved our lives just the day before in a wilderness survival dilemma of mythic proportions.
I really should buy stock in tissues.
Now, to the subject of my dilemma: our 1970 Fiat 500.
I wanted to pick a name that fit its diminutive size, Italian origins and my lean to the whimsical.
I ended up with Thumbellina, like Hans Christian Andersen’s tiny fairy. We spelled it deliberately wrong so we could use Bellina for everyday.
Bellina means approximately “small, cute, beauty”, in Italian.
But, now that the Fiat has been around for a while, it’s becoming more and more apparent that its name doesn’t quite suit.
Our 2013 Fiat 500 seems more like the Bellina of the family – small, cute, beautiful and BOSSY. She’s got a raging case of “BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!-you-have-had-your-seatbelt-off-for-exactly-2-seconds-BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!-to-drive-up-the-driveway-with-the-mail-and-I-am-going-to-BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP-until-you-put-it-back-on-BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!”
She just seems like a Bellina.
Bossy, bossy Bellina.
It even has alliteration, to which, you may remember, I am addicted.
For the 1970 Fiat, I’m leaning now towards Gnocchi.
It’s kind of shaped like a little gnocchi, isn’t it? And, I l-o-o-o-o-ove gnocchi. They’re like eating little pillows of heaven.
Even though, I realize that’s not grammatically-correct Italian. One car: but “gnocchi” is plural.
Little pillow (singular) of heaven, then.
Now, I’m befuddled. Is it low-brow and tacky to change a car’s name after it’s already been anointed?
I don’t know how you parents, with babies to name, can possibly commit. Should I:
- Stick with Bellina?
- Change to Gnocchi?
- Or, or, or, what about Polkadot?
As long as you don’t suggest Cordelia, I’m taking votes.
Please indulge me while I have a gear head moment.
Or, is that gearhead?
Anyway, there’s nothing quite like the sensation of sand in your molars and the smell of gasoline in the air. Throw in an elephant ear and it’s my idea of Saturday night fun in the summer.
I’m talking about the stock car races.
I’m snazzy that way.
Every time I go to the stock car races (about once a year, if I’m lucky), I can’t get two steps into the parking lot without flashing back oh…about 35 years. Oh sure, it’s all happening in modern-day 2013, but the experience is all vintage for me.
‘Cos you know, I’ve regressed in a span of 45 seconds to about the age of six.
Maybe it’s the rows of bleachers rising up out of the sand.
Or the buzzing sound of the car engines racing around the oval.
It could be the inky stamp on my hand that will last until Thursday, unless I scrub.
Maybe it’s the smell of the deep fryer in the concession stands.
Suddenly, I’m grinning like an idiot and clapping my hands and jumping up and down as I bounce towards the gate. The noise of the cars and the racetrack announcer are getting louder with every sproing.
In case you don’t quite have the whole picture:
Looking ridiculous (but with safe ears).
As I bounce, Tigger-like, wearing bright, yellow ear defenders (it’s very loud).
The race track is out-of-town, by the way.
(I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.)
As the sun sets and a few mosquitoes start nosing around our legs, cars that look like kleenex boxes or 30s gangster getaway vehicles drift (that’s what it’s called: drifting) sideways, sideways, eeeeek, sideways around the curves in a perilous, high-speed dance.
Inches from each other, just shy of 25 cars scream around an impossibly-crowded track. Their tires churn and slide in the clay with every corner and I grip the wooden seat beneath me, as if I can will them safely around the bend by keeping my eyes glued to them. Eventually, I realize that I’m grinding sand between my teeth and dust from the track has blown and settled into the crevices in my elbows.
It’s grand, grand, grand.
Suddenly, someone bumps a fender or gets over-confident in the curve. Instantly, it’s pandemonium. The crowd roars approval and dismay as we frantically search the wreckage and cars limp to the pits, fenders only snarled, if they’re lucky. The clean-up crews quickly swarm the field and almost before you can breathe a sigh of relief, the race is on again.
Of course, it’s not very environmentally friendly with all the fumes and the noise, but neither are bottles of nail polish or the bananas found in every Canadian grocery store. So, do your part for the environment: grow or buy local food, re-use, re-new, recycle.
Then, I’ll meet you at the races, next Saturday, by the elephant ears.
I’ll be the one hopping up and down like a six-year-old, with dust in my teeth and elbows. Reverting to childhood at the races is a riot.
You shouldn’t miss it.
Oh, and don’t forget to BYO ear defenders.
If you dare.
You are reading a post from Christine Fader’s “A Vintage Life” blog. Join the romance with all things retro at https://avintagelife.wordpress.com
If you know me or read this blog, you know I love my vintage vehicles but you might not know that:
a) daisies are my favourite flower and
b) as of November 24, 2012 my vintage vehicle collection stood at:
– 1974 Boler travel trailer.
I drove my beetle, every day from May until October each year wearing a smile so big that my cheeks hurt.
Why the geeky glee?
I’ve been a fainter since age 18 and had my driver’s license revoked, um, a lot. And you thought all my talk of swooning was just a mere vintage-y expression!
I was finally successfully treated 9 years ago and shortly thereafter, my husband found a yellow-and-white beetle and insisted that she was meant to be mine. Often with tears in my eyes and a perhaps cheesy but ever so grateful swelling of my heart, Daizybug (her name seemed obvious) and I spent 9 happy summers together.
That is, until we had a little disaster on November 25.
Our workshop building–the building Daizybug slept in over the winter–burned down. Luckily, the building was some distance from our house, there was no one inside, the wind was calm that day so our forest didn’t catch fire, no one was hurt, and it was just STUFF that was lost. Yes, all those people who reminded me of those things were absolutely right. There were lots of blessings for which to be thankful.
But sometimes, STUFF, even though it’s stuff, is very precious. My Daizybug was dead and many, many tears ensued.
“But, it’s just a car”, you might be saying.
I know, I know. Tell that to my heart. It’s been very uncooperative in understanding that sensible fact.
Lots of soggy days and nights followed. Everywhere I turned, there was Daizybug — yellow beetle cupcake holders in the baking cupboard; a planter painted like Daizybug; pictures in frames; handmade Daizybug jewellery crafted by my husband; Daizybug screen saver. I had Daizy moments while driving (or hearing a certain song) and nightmares about her going to the dreaded crusher at the junkyard.
Soggy, soggy days and nights.
Lots of cute beetles are on the market and I had a small amount of insurance money with which to shop. But, I just couldn’t find it in my heart to buy a Beetle. In between bouts of soggy-ness, my husband reminded me (sometimes with tears in his own eyes), that even though we could never replace Daizybug, it would be nice to have someone to spend the first day of summer driving with, when it arrived.
On Saturday, we came home with a new friend. And, even though there’s nothing like first car love…and I had a doozy in Daizy, this feels like the beginning of something different, of course, but just as strong.
It’s a 1970 Fiat 500. If it looks familiar, it might be because you remember Luigi from the movie Cars. You may have also seen their new counterparts tootling around since they were re-designed and launched in the marketplace in the past couple of years. The new ones are cute.
The originals are positively adorable.
This car has no radio or seatbelts (yet). You have to start it using a choke and a starter lever. There’s no synchro-meshing in the gears (meaning double clutching is required every time you accelerate or de-celerate). It has a 2 cylinder, 499cc engine which, if you are not up on car vernacular, means it has (far) less power than the smallest modern-day motorcycle.
And I love it.
Of course, Daizybug will never be replaced or forgotten. But every time I peek through the windows into our garage, I feel familiar tears in my eyes and a perhaps cheesy but ever so grateful swelling of my heart.