On Saturday, as I was screaming George Carlin’s seven words at the Neon while I worked on the brakes, Nita took AJ to get his license. He passed with flying colors and became a card-carrying slave to the automobile culture. His reward? We gave him Mabel, the 2003 Santa Fe that has served us well for these many years. Of course, now Nita needed a car. So she went to a dealership where a former coworker now sold. What did she get?
This is the Nitamobile, a 2011 Nissan Versa. The thing scoots like mad, though AJ found the accelerator hard to get used to. I like it, though. The brakes are a bit of a shock. Both the Santa Fe’s and the newly rejuvenated Neon’s are a bit of a soft touch. The Nitamobile’s remind me of Ford brakes. If you own a Ford built since 2000 – Well, for starters, good call. Up until about 2010, they were the only American cars worth a damn, and I still have my reservations about Chrysler. Anyway, as I discovered first with the car I inherited from my dad, then with a rented Focus in New York City, Ford brakes are quite capable of stopping the car on a dime, often at risk of sending the driver through the windshield. The Nissan’s are like that. I consider this a good thing, but damn, after four years of Dodge and Hyundai brakes, it’s a bit of a culture shock.
The Nitamobile is also the only car we own that you can plug your iPod into. Mabel, the 2003 Santa Fe, has a cassette deck that you can use with an adapter, but that sounds like crap. The Neon is too new for cassette, too old for an audio jack, and really depressing unless you want radio or CD.
So what’s with the names? Well, I used to name my cars. Some of them, anyway. There was a disposable beater phase I went through where naming the car was an exercise in futility. The car would blow a rod or seize up before the year was out, and it was off to spend another $700-1000 on something equally decrepit. But in the beginning, there was Besse, a 75 Nova that proved in the 1980′s that they didn’t build them like that anymore. There was The Bluesmobile, a rusty 1973 Buick Centurion. There was the Wintermobile, the Ford Taurus my dad drove when he died.
The Neon didn’t have a name, but while Nita was shopping for the Nissan, she dubbed the venerable old Santa Fe “Mabel,” after the old lady who owned the house before Nita bought the place nearly twenty years ago, and, we suspect, still haunts it. Mabel (the car) is old, reliable, and takes care of us. She even took us Tennessee to get married. So Mabel it is.
I decided the Neon also needed a name. The Neon hasn’t given me too much trouble – a cheap battery, brakes, a transmission line that Chrysler took its sweet time sending a replacement for – but it is temperamental. It’s very much a feminine car and has the lines of a diva. I called it Princess because it’s a whiny bitch that knows it’s cute. Never mind that similarly designed cars have more guts under the hood and handle curves better. Princess looks like a sports car and wants to be treated like one. Never mind that it’s a sedan with a spoiler.
So as Nita pulled in, there remained only one name to bestow. I looked at the car, white and cute. It reminded me of Nita’s personal avatar, Marilyn Monroe. I said, “Marilyn.” Nita said no. “Marilyn” should should be sleek and sexy. As if to prove her point, a Corvette rolled by. “That’s Marilyn,” she said. So the car became the Nitamobile. Thus it has been spoken.
It’s a rough time for us to get a car, but I keep pointing out that we have two cars getting up there in miles. Princess is over 86,000 miles and near the end of its loan. Mabel just crested 100,000 miles. AJ will be driving it mostly around here. Otherwise, he’d be driving the Nitamobile to work. We need something long term after AJ takes Mabel away.
It’s a sweet little car. And being a 2011, we’ll have it long after the loan is paid off.