“It’s nice having everyone in my car.” M said with a smile, not an ounce of sarcasm in his voice. I glanced behind me at the two blond girls in their black car seats. Little L looking so proud in her front facing car seat, C looking so big in her booster. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a little gold star sticker coming slightly unstuck just below the window and smiled.
I met M eight years ago. Exactly eight years ago actually, well eight years and four days if we’re nitpicking. It was at a party in Somerville, MA and during the course of the evening he pointed out his brand new Honda Accord to me with pride. Even though the party was being held exactly half a block from his house he’d driven over, punch drunk with love for his new baby.
Aretha he’d called the shiny, two door, sporty, black car. He introduced me, beaming, leaning over the balcony railing, clearly itching to get back to his new toy. Lucky for me, he was able to restrain himself and stay by my side for the rest of the evening.
I eventually got to ride in the precious vehicle. Just as a passenger at first. In fact, just as a passenger for a long time. I was granted temporary driver status late one night a few months into our relationship because M was in the throes of a terrible asthma attack (brought on by allergies to my cat) and he absolutely couldn’t take the wheel himself. He drove home from the hospital that night. It was many months before I’d be granted that honor again, and not because I’m a bad driver, just because he couldn’t bear to relinquish the controls.
M worshiped that car, but to me it was just a car and I didn’t revere it quite as passionately as he did. Within the first few months of our relationship I turned M’s wanna be sports car into a moving van, amazing him with the amount of stuff that could fit in the trunk once the seats were folded down. And I used it as a pet taxi, despite the fact that he was allergic to my cat.
When we moved to France we sent the car to his parents in California. They took good care of it while we were gone and M was reunited with his beloved wheels a year later. By then the car had lost some of it’s mystique and I was allowed to drive it regularly. It even became my car for a year or two until C was born.
The day we installed a car seat in the middle of the back seat I think M managed to convince himself that we were only temporarily transforming his sexy bad boy mobile into a family car. Soon C would outgrow the infant car seat, he’d recover his car, and could go back to cruising up the highway listening to serious jazz or NPR.
That never really happened. Three years later there are now two car seats in Aretha. Granted, they’re both black in deference to the car’s “cool” factor, but still, it’s two car seats in a car that was clearly not imagined with children in mind.
And back on that fateful summer evening, if I’d told that proud young man that eight years down the road he would be beaming as he chauffeured his family of four around in his shiny beautiful new car he probably would have made some polite excuse, put down his drink, and run for the hills. Or at the very least driven off into the sunset, as far away from me as legally possible. And what a shame that would have been.