Stan is my partner-in-crime, shoulder to cry on, and best friend in the whole wide world. He just happens to be an '89 Mercury Topaz. I first met Stan on October 21st, 2003, otherwise known as the day I failed my first driver's test. Apparently you can drive perfectly the whole time and still fail automatically because of bike lanes that your hometown doesn't have. Anyway, the whole day I was absolutely distraught, wearing sunglasses to class to hide my tears because all I wanted to do was drive.
My dad felt so bad that he went out that very day and bought me a car. Before you think I'm a daddy's girl who is completely spoiled, keep in mind that Stan is almost as old as I am, and has more quirks than a Diablo Cody screenplay. Not only did my dad buy me the car, but he baked me a happy face cake (I am obsessed with happy faces, and even have a happy face tattoo), complete with yellow icing. So when I came home, he handed me the world's largest piece of cake, which instantly made me feel better. I felt even more incredible when I discovered that he had baked the keys inside the cake. (Looking back, I really hope he washed them first...) He then told me I had to find the car, in order to take possession. My parents' property isn't huge, but there are a surprising amount of places one could stash a 4-door sedan. So it took me an embarrassing amount of time to locate Stan.
When I did, I flipped out. A car of my very own! I sat in the drivers' seat and instantly felt at home. A month later, I re-took my driver's test and passed with flying colors, all thanks to my new friend. He's seen me through good times, rocking out with my girls to Bohemian Rhapsody on his surprisingly stellar sound system. He's seen me through bad times, sheltering me from the world when all I wanted to do was escape. He's seen me through daily commutes to the office, and long-term road trips of self-discovery. He's taken me back to my parents' house many-a-time, never complaining during the 500-mile trip. He also didn't complain when I ran right into that house on my very first day of solo driving, or flinched when I ran over a raccoon recently.
Most of my friends are on their second, third, fourth + car since high school, and I'm going seven years strong with my first love. We've had a few hiccups, but thankfully my dad can fix just about anything and what he can't, the good fellas at Foresthill Towing and Garage take care of. (They know Stan just as intimately as I do.)
As much as I love my car and as grateful as I am to have it, I can't imagine anyone else being able to drive it. To quote Jessica Alba in Sin City, "Nobody but me can keep this heap running." It takes a special mixture of love, patience, and understanding to drive a car like Stan. It takes even more to appreciate his idiosyncrasies. For instance:
1. Stan does not like to idle at stoplights or drive-throughs. He likes to go go go and if he can't, he sputters and dies.
2. If you leave the lights on and take the key out of the ignition, the radio will still play as if by magic.
3. Speaking of the radio, sometimes Stan selects random stations if he doesn't like the music you're listening to.
4. The last 3 digits on Stan's license plate are '666.' Even funnier is that when we bought him, Stan had a Jesus fish bumper sticker on his heiney. (Naturally I removed this. I didn't think people would get the irony and accuse me of being a Jesus freak.)
5. The roof upholstery is shredded, causing blue felt streamers to dangle freely in the wind.
6. Stan's entire right ear (side mirror) has been lopped off (when I ran into my friend's hedge), glued back on, and now the mirror is gone since I ran into the side of my garage once.
7. The gas gauge doesn't work, so you have to know his mileage by heart to know when to fill up. And good luck getting the gas door open.
8. Stan's left eye (headlight) has lost its cover after being carefully duct taped for so long. So now the bulb is exposed and could break at any second.
9. The back windows are permanently stuck open, as neither the power windows nor the power locks function.
10. The back right door does not open at all.
11. I'm a stickler for using my turn signal. Unfortunately Stan's blinker blinks once every 5 minutes, so you have to keep clicking the lever for people to realize you need to merge.
12. Stan has automatic seat belts that make a distinctive farting noise when they move up and down. It sounds like he is an old man with a colon problem.
In about a week, Stan and I will celebrate our seventh anniversary as car and driver, and we've never been happier. He may be a crotchety, sputtering, pig pen of an automobile, but he's still all mine. That's not to say that if/when I ever get financially solvent, I'm not going to buy a car that actually functions as it's supposed to. But no car will ever have as much character as my buddy, the Thelma to my Louise, the Murtaugh to my Riggs, the Goose to my Maverick. I love you, Stan :D
"Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down." -Serenity