Ms. Honda Accord

Ms. Honda Accord

My ’94 Honda Accord with a 5-speed transmission has a classy, sassy way of sporting her 170,000 miles. She’s twice been repainted and had a few scratches dermabrased – the equivalent of a minor facelift. In 2004, I chose a Porsche dark green to replace the dulled black paint. Another five years under the desert sun, and the girl needed a retouch. Now she’s a Subaru green. In dim light, the car darkens to green-black. In sunlight, the metal shimmers with an under-the-jungle-canopy green. A gorgeous color!

You may think that paying a whopping $25 auto registration fee and being eligible for historic plates in two years, the car would be a clunker. Quite the contrary. The car boasts a chip-free windshield, Hawaiian motif bucket seat covers, tiger print floor mats, tinted windows, and no dings. I ride a low 22 inches above ground without GPS, back-up screen, heated seats, climate data, leather or any of the add-ons installed in newer cars. I have just the basics – a Pioneer AM-FM radio, cassette, and CD player. That’s really all I need for listening to recorded books and NPR. Of course, the car has air conditioning, air bags, and a heater, and strands of dental floss float around.

“I’ve been looking for a ’94 Honda,” the emissions test guy said last year.  “Your car is really nice.”

“It’s nice enough for me to drive.” I appreciated his compliment as I took the paperwork and drove off.

Last month I met up with flattery again. I pulled into Beyond Bread for a loaf. A 20-something guy got out of a shabby 2-door Nissan, which he parked next to Ms. Honda.

“Excuse me, Miss. I saw your car on Campbell and followed you into the parking lot.”

“Really? Why did you do that?”

“I like your car and wonder if you’ve thought of selling it?

“Well, I like my car, too, and it’s the only car I have.” I turned and walked, thinking rye or whole grain. He stayed right with me.

“Would you take my name and phone number in case you change your mind?”

What the heck. I feel for people trying for something better.  “Sure, let’s go in and you write down your name and number.”

While I bought the bread, I did an on-the-spot Barbara Walters interview. Drew told me he’s an automotive student at a school in Phoenix. He has an awesome 18-month-old son and needs a 4-door car for the kiddo, car seat, and all the paraphernalia kids require to get from here to there.  My question about his wife had a pretty sad, but not totally unexpected answer. No wife. Actually, no girl friend either. The young lady did not take to motherhood. She’s out of the picture. Drew’s parents care for the awesome tyke during the week.

“Thanks. I’ll keep your name and number.”

I put the paper into my pocket and took the loaf of rye. “If I win the lottery you can have the car. Better yet, I’ll buy you a new one.”

* * *

Fast Ferry – Proviencetown to Boston (9/27/11)

The 90-minute fast ferry will take longer this afternoon. One of the engines has lost power. Still, even if we dock late, I will have time to catch Jet Blue’s red-eye to Phoenix. Besides, I have a plan for the ride from Provincetown. I’ll continue reading Ann Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. Admirable intentions, but the passengers are a definite distraction.

My eyes and ears settle on a man and a woman sitting shoulder to shoulder in the first row of the cabin. They stare at a small screen television set into the wall. They watch Wolfe Blitzer giving a CNN news report. I watch them, the man and the woman watching the TV in silence. How can they sit with perfect posture like two mannequins. I silently yell to them, turn off the television!

A woman appears and stops. Leaning over the couple she begins her own news report. She once lived in California; she majored in psychology. She stayed with friends who have a house in Provincetown. Blitzer’s report on the Michael Jackson autopsy has no audience among the three. Forward in the bow seats, a girl child babbles loudly to her mother and father. She lets out random, piercing screams followed by silence. Four rows ahead a Japanese man holds a cell phone to his left ear. His eyes are closed as he listens to something.

On the starboard side, a yellow Lab is stretched in the down-stay position.  Its owner hovers over a laptop keyboard and screen. The dog watched enviously as the man paused to eat from a Styrofoam container. Good dog. He never moved.

The engine noise, constant and loud, adds to the distractions. Gray water and gray sky barge by the cabin windows. A man on the bow has a wide lens attached to his camera. The wind rips and billows his nylon jacket. He is ready to shoot those first harbor sightings – oil storage tanks, bridges, and old custom houses along the wharfs. Did he photograph the cruise ship Celebrity as it passed? Happy people going to the Bahamas.

Sitting still has chilled my bones. I pull my already buttoned jacket on over my head. I cannot read or concentrate. I go to the snack bar for a cup of hot water. Back at my seat I bob a green tea bag up and down and inhale the musty aroma. No point in forcing the quiet of Lindbergh’s book into my brain. Maybe on the flight to Phoenix I’ll get back to grace and solitude.

At Long Wharf we disembark and head toward Boston’s downtown streets. I look for a “T” – a transit station to take me to the airport.  The weekend in Provincetown with its casual, party-place attitude ends at MacMillan Pier. A red-haired man rushes to a friend walking ahead. A quick few words are exchanged. His knees fold into a jump, and he plants a full-mouth kiss on the lips of his tall friend.

“See you on Friday,” he says with a laugh and a smile. Off he goes rushing to another destination.