Local Schmocal by Zoe Abel: With the purchase of The Potato exciting new worlds had opened up to us like "Medford" and "Wal-Mart."
Silas, my 5-year-old son, often asks me questions such as, "What's your next job going to be?" and, "Where are we going to live next?" It's hard for me to convince him that we're finally at a settled down stage of our lives.
I just tell Silas over and over that we're finally living the life I've always wanted. Who could want more than a two-bedroom townhouse, a couple of crazy cats, a child more responsible than I am and a fantastic job? But Silas simply continues to anticipate change, which I can hardly blame him for.
As far back as Silas can remember I've been rushing off to one job or another, moving from one apartment to another, and I've so far driven a total of three different cars over his short lifetime. These three cars included one that could not go up hills and could not go more than 35 miles per hour — can you imagine all the places we could go under those types of constraints?
After the slow-and-downhill-only car, I had a Corolla, which Silas called the Potato Car. I'm not sure why this reference to my car always bothered me, since I am not only a realistic person who could see that my car was beige and rounded, but also a person who loves potatoes more than any other food, including bacon, ice cream and bacon-flavored ice cream. Silas called his grandpa's car The Blueberry Car, which seems better, though the term also invoked images of Violet Beauregard gum-chewing herself into berry-hood.
The Potato Car was a perfectly acceptable car. It got me where I wanted to go. The radio worked, the gas mileage was pretty darn good, particularly on the freeway, and after a fairly traumatic blow-out the tires are almost brand new. Between all the household cars it did hold a special role as being the most dependable, sort of the same kind of role my little sister holds. Being the most dependable The Potato Car went on all the family vacations to the coast and up to Portland.
Now that I'm working, in a field which I repeatedly explain to Silas is my career, and not simply a job, the Potato Car had one major thing against it. For all its fancy abilities to go up hills and "scan" for a radio station, my parents had bought it for me. After weeks and months of perusing Craigslist the classifieds, and browsing used car lots with my mom, my parents and I finally agreed on a couple-year-old Toyota Corolla.
In a world of great presents a dependable car is one of the best. My parents are undoubtedly generous selfless people for getting it for me. I do drive my mom around a lot though, so I'm not positive it was a completely selfless gift. My mom does not have, nor has she ever had a driver's license. People are always shocked by this, but I explain that it's actually quite easy; she walks a lot, takes the bus, and has a loving group of family and friends to drive her around when necessary. My mom was probably as sick of the car that was incapable of leaving town as I was. With the purchase of The Potato exciting new worlds had opened up to us like "Medford" and "Wal-Mart."
The Potato is in pretty good shape, a couple little dings on the outside, and brakes that squeak when it rains, but all in all a good little mechanical vegetable. So I gave it to my parents. I, of course, am not a selfless generous person. I gave the car to my parents because I bought myself a brand new car. I brought my sister down to the car lots with me and bought a new car, all on my own, with only my very own money. It may not be the most practical car on the lot, but as I tell my friends, "I work darn hard, and I deserve it!" Silas has yet to name it; he's a meticulous little boy who likes to take his time over issues as important as this one.
Zoë Abel is happily driving herself to and from her "career" in her brand new car. She enjoys using her keychain to lock and unlock the doors. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org