This is a guest post by Chris, Contributing Editor and Chief Husband.
So Ingrid is gone. My silver 2002 Mercedes Benz SLK32 AMG Retractable Hardtop Convertible. 2 Seats. Supercharged. 349hp. Electronically limited to 155 mph per the owner’s manual.
My dream car. Sold. Retitled. Driven away. My could-have-been, would-have-been, antique-tagged old man car. She has a new owner, a giddy fellow who promised to take good care of her.
And I am fine with it.
Why, you ask?
Lets go back a few weeks, to a quiet afternoon in the driveway.
As the sun set quickly in the late summer evening, I was finishing up the drying, carefully wiping her down with the artificial chamois, removing all the water spots. I know every curve. I stopped drying and cleared my throat.
“It’s not you. It’s me.” I looked into her headlights. I needed to be honest. I owed her that.
“Ja? Hau ees dat?” she said.
“I have to sell you. This just isn’t fun anymore. I’ve tried to make it work. But I just don’t trust you. I haven’t trusted you for a long time. I’ve been faking for so long I can barely remember what it felt like to trust you.” I rolled up the chamois and slid it into the case.
“Ich verstehe nicht. I don’t understand. Yoo knoo I vos going to be high mainteenants,” She maintained her pride. I was glad. I didn’t want her to be sad, or lose her identity over my weird phobias.
“Yeah, I knew.” I rinsed the sponges and dropped them in the bucket. “I just didn’t expect so much, so soon. Ever since you stranded us at Brookwood Mall and spooked the babysitter, I’ve been trying to pretend it wasn’t a big deal. The A/C condenser wasn’t a big deal. The electrical brownouts and rough idle was my fault. I fixed that. The crankshaft position sensor. The idler arm…” I trailed off.
A drop of water I missed with the chamois slowly rolled down the bumper. I pretended not to notice. I took the can of tire shine and shook it well. It was almost empty.
“I knoo yoo cood not reelax.” She said. “Yoor eyes don’t sparkeel anymoor. Ve nayver go out. Just back and foorth to vurk. Ven yoo vunt to have fun and reelax you take thee othoors.”
“I can’t help it,” I said. I sprayed the tire shine evenly, careful to keep it on the tires and off the paint. “Every bump, every squeak, I wonder what’s going to go wrong.” I emptied the can of tire shine and set it gently in the bucket. “I cross my fingers practically every time I slide the key in that you will start. And it doesn’t make sense. The mechanic likes you. He says you’re a good car. You’ve been maintained well. You have a hand-built engine. You’re 10 years old, and just need a little love. I just…” The tire shine bubbles slowly faded and left a cool wet look that was barely visible under the darkening sky. The crickets stopped singing and listened to me. “I just can’t love you like that.”
She sat quietly and didn’t say a word. Still proud. Still beautiful. Still willing and able to throw me against the seat when I put the pedal to the floor. I wanted to speak, but some things just can’t quite make it out. I am glad I knew you. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to drive my dream car for 14 months after admiring your model for 14 years. I’ll miss you. On the right day, in the right moment, you were perfect. “I’m sorry Ingrid. This is better for everyone. You’ll have a lot more fun with someone else. I’m holding you back.”
I put away the hose and the bucket. She looked at the stars. The crickets chirped louder than ever. I walked upstairs and peered out the window at her shining in the moonlight. “Danke,” I whispered. She caught me looking. “Yoor veelcom,” she replied.