They say you never forget your first love.
Mine was a yellow and white 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle.
Practical Man found the Bug for me online and thought we should buy it. I had finally been successfully treated for a fainting disorder that had plagued me (and my driver’s license) for 15 long years. No more keeling over, it seemed. So, I could finally drive again.
It was time, Practical Man said.
I protested a bit. It was a luxury…not a necessity. And by the way, I said (hands on hips, as that is how I pretend I am momentarily practical), a classic VW Beetle definitely isn’t practical: no heat for Canadian winters, only usable half the year (or less), liable to rust out from under us, blah, blah, blah. It wasn’t remotely “utilitarian” (one of Practical Man’s necessities in a vehicle) and it definitely couldn’t carry a sheet of plywood in the back (that’s one of Practical Man’s tests to measure those flashy, practical-wannabe vehicles that act like they’re oh-so utilitarian but hah! can’t even carry a sheet of plywood in the back).
Despite its exuberant hue and uselessness at Home Depot, Practical Man insisted the Bug was meant to be mine. After all, he said, classic Beetles were among my favourite cars, daisies were my favourite flower and this BEETLE was yellow and white, LIKE A DAISY.
Then, he used the eyebrows on me.
I can’t resist the eyebrows.
You have to trust me: these are magic eyebrows.
So, we bought the non-practical Beetle and I loved it with all my heart for nine summers. I rejoiced every Spring on the first day of driving and I pouted a bit every fall, when it went away for the winter. I drove it to work every day and I never, ever took for granted a single moment of not just–finally, finally having my driver’s license back but, also, also–driving that car that made me and everyone around us smile.
Then, there was a fire in the winter storage building and what remained of the Beetle went off to be re-born as (hopefully) a Mini Cooper S…or something else fun. Hey, that car did good deeds. It didn’t deserve to morph into something that carries plywood.
Now, there is a new (old) car in town. A 1970 Fiat 500. We were busy re-building after the fire and then, there was a winter with higher snowbanks than two classic Fiats stacked on top of each other, and then some work to get it road-worthy, so tomorrow will be the Fiat’s first day being back on the road.
It’s tiny, tiny, oh-so-tiny. Here it is, next to our (new) Fiat 500, which is a small (new) car but looks pretty large compared to the (old) original:
It also looks diminutive next to its classic car counterparts. So small, in fact, that it has an exterior luggage rack. Yes, that’s because you can’t even fit luggage in the back, let alone a sheet of plywood.
Not utilitarian in the least.
But, that Practical Man seems to have a broad definition of practical.
As in, if it makes my sweetheart full of tra-la-la, then it’s practical.
(Excuse me while I sniffle a little.)
So, the classic Fiat is here to stay. It has a choke, a starter, no gas gauge or synchromeshing between gears, not even a radio. It’s not utilitarian or sensible or large.
But, I have a feeling that, like my Beetle, this little Fiat will also hold a very large place in my heart.
Kind of like Practical Man.
I can’t wait to get to know you better.
If anyone asks you what I’ve been doing this week, the answer is: sweating and scratching out in The Nature that I love…not so much.
It’s 42 degrees Celsius today with the humidex. That means a balmy 34 degrees REAL temperature and 127 degrees behind my ears and around my ankles. Oh, my ankles are so steamy.
So, like all good Canadians, we’re complaining.
It was only a couple of months ago that we complained about the endless winter and grumbled about the “s” word on the radio threatening more of the white stuff in April. Practical Man sort of sniffs the air to figure out if it’s time to take the snowblower off the tractor yet. He’s like a weather barometer with alluring twinkles so even when the radio is threatening the “s” word repeatedly, I trust the twinkles. Besides, everyone knows that April showers (not snowballs) are supposed to bring May flowers.
Just ignore that little snowbank over by the tulips.
And, it was only last month that we complained about the unnaturally cool Spring and we were still wearing jeans and socks, by golly and socks were the worst thing in the world in June, which is an especially hard month on account of there is not a single holiday weekend in Ontario. Is it too much to ask during such a vacation-desolate and trying month to be able to wear sandals without having blue, frozen toes?
Because, blue toes don’t go particularly well with my favourite vintage-inspired sandals:
Then, it was only last week that we were admiring the unnaturally lush summer verdant surroundings while simultaneously complaining about the rain, rain and more rain and the grass, grass and more grass which wouldn’t stop growing and the never-ending mowing and trimming and mowing and trimming..and by the way, where were the true stretches of sunshine and hot summer weather?
They were in Jamaica, that’s where.
But now, finally, we’re sweating it out in a trillion gazillion degrees and humidity that makes my elbows and the backs of my knees sweat and my hair curly (and not in a particularly good way). Practical Man doesn’t sweat (I always knew he was made of steel) and the only way he can keep from turning into the human torch (I think I’m mixing super hero metaphors here) is to stop whatever chore he’s doing (because hot weather is not an excuse to just laze around, except for me, of course) and jump in the pool every 15 minutes or so.
And then, he complains that it’s not cold enough. Which, I think means he might also be like Aquaman.
I’m not sure.
But, we’re not just sweating, because we’ve been camping and we live in Canada. Which means, inevitably, we’re also scratching. With all the rain, rain, rain, the bugs have been planning and conspiring and working on an advance to contact with my ankles. Now, I have sweaty, itchy ankles. They say that life is what happens when you’re making other plans. I say: bugs are what happen when you’re making camping plans.
We were camping in our 1974 Boler travel trailer, which, you may recall that I l-o-o-o-ve in a way that may be very annoying to some.
For instance, people in RV sales.
When we first bought the Boler, we went to an RV store to source some parts for it and when the salesman heard we had a Boler trailer, he immediately said, “Well, you’re gonna wanna trade that in right away for something GOOD!” Which, of course, offended me greatly.
Greatly, greatly. Because I l-o-o-ove the Boler, as you may recall.
However, I just smiled and told evil RV sales guy that there was nothing better than a Boler but on the way home, I decided that sales guy probably hated classic Volkswagen Beetles and all the other truly joyous things in life too and I got myself into a real state of vintage vehicular protectiveness. I had vintage indignity and outrage out the wazoo and I wasn’t even sure I knew where my wazoo was. But, I did know deep down and finally had to admit, that there are some who don’t like the whole vintage camping thing. Especially those who embrace modern conveniences such as air conditioning and indoor plumbing. So, I tried my best to calm my wazoo down.
Anyway, we’ve been camping in the vintage Boler, which is nearly 40 years old and deserves our respect, love and a little forgiveness if it happens to go a little wacky every now and then, without fear of being traded in for some snazzy trailer with A/C, indoor plumbing and an on-board microwave.
Not that I’m 44 and know anything at all about going wacky every now and then, but I can identify with the Boler’s little wacky elements sometimes. Like, when the right tire was flat when we pulled it out of the shelter to prep for the trip. And, when the bed was just a smidge too short for our tallish frames to stretch out fully, so our toes got a little cramped squishing up against the rounded walls while we were sleeping.
But, there is a completely groovy vintage avocado green stovetop and “range hood”, which in my book, makes the Boler fabulous.
We also have screens in every wind-out window (which means we can leave them open to the breeze, even in the pouring rain, unlike a modern trailer). And there is a completely low-maintenance, sweepable, washable fibreglass floor.
So there, RV sales guy.
Uh huh, our Boler is like the vintage Batmobile…only portly and cute. It’s my idea of perfect camping and I l-o-o-o-ve it.
Plus, my husband was like a sniper with a fly swatter for any errant buzzers that managed to sneak their way in while we had the door open. Such a bonus for my sweaty, itchy ankles that he thought to bring–and can so ably wield–the instrument of my tormentors’ demise. And that reminds me which of the many superheroes he really is:
He’s Practical Man, of course.
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.