This was written for The Red Dress Club‘s memoir writing project, Remembe(red). Concrit is always welcome, and thanks for taking the time!
This week, your memoir prompt assignment is to think of a sound or a smell the reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory. Don't forget to incorporate the sound/smell of your choosing!
Word limit: 700 My count: 700 exactly!
I got my license in December, 1993, about six months after turning sixteen. My parents only had manual transmission cars that summer, so I had to wait until my mom got her new minivan, an automatic, to take the driving test.
Just a few weeks after I got my license, my dad said he'd bought me a car. A car!
“It's kinda old…” he said.
“It's Gawd-awful ugly…” my mom said.
“It's a 1970 Saab 96”
“Don't get too excited, sweetie.”
“It doesn't run right now, but we pick it up this weekend.”
My mom's words flew right past me. I was getting a car! Of my own! And we were picking it up this weekend!
If I'd had Google, this is where I'd go search for images of this “God-awful” car that was now mine. But alas, I did not, so I anxiously drew pictures in my mind. I figured the worse it was in my head, the better off I'd be, so there would be a chance I could be pleasantly surprised.
And pleasantly surprised I was! I named her Sadie and she was my first love. With the back end of a Volkswagen Beetle and the front end of an old Volvo, Sadie was funny and adorable and had a four-speed manual transmission on the column. She ran rough, so my borderline shifting skills went unnoticed; when a car is chugging along, taking a mile or so to get up to speed on the freeway, the added jerk and jostle of a rough upshift doesn't make too much of a difference.
With this car came new freedom, and new responsibilities. I was now my younger sister Katie's personal chauffeuse. Katie and I did most of our extra-curricular activities together, so it wasn't too much of an imposition on my junior year social life, and we ended up spending a lot of time together in the car.
A few months after getting Sadie, I finally got a new stereo for her; one with a CD player and everything! My first errand post-install was to run to the local Wherehouse for a Case Logic disc holder that would velcro to my sun visor.
The first discs to go in were my current favorites: The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band”, They Might Be Giants “Flood”, Tori Amos “Little Earthquakes”, Pearl Jam “Ten” and U2's “Achtung Baby”
I don't know how it started, or which of us did it first, but it wasn't long before Katie and I had a “thing” when we were in the car. I pretty much left the U2 album in at all times, and when track eight would start, so we would start our car dance.
The first notes of “Mysterious Ways” would set us off into our choreographed routine every time, a little dance that stays with me to this day. The first 20 seconds of the song feature The Edge's electrified, almost synthesized guitar strikes, with eight emphasized strums backed by a light drum rhythm.
As soon as Katie and I heard that opening, our heads would snap in time to the music. Inspired by Madonna's vogueing, we'd each look in different directions in time to the music, hitting a new position with each emphasized hit of the notes.
I'd look left, Katie would look up. I'd look down at my lap, her head would snap right. Up, right; left down; down, up. On the occasions we chose the same direction at the same time, we'd dissolve into laughter and stop the dance.
I don't remember what we did with the rest of the song, if anything. We covered a lot of miles in that car, mostly in and around Danville. We talked a lot, sang a lot, argued a ton. But whenever “Mysterious Ways” came on, we danced our little dance and all was right with the world.
I don't hear the sang as much as I used to; the 1,200 songs on my iPod (along with a picky almost-three-year-old in the car) means a much longer rotation than a CD with 14 tracks on it. But every time I hear that intro, my head snaps each way in time to the music. Car dancing.
Elaine A. says
Gosh, that song and whole album brings back a TON of memories for me too! What a cool car you had – so cute! Love these times with your sister… such great memories for you both! 🙂
And thank you for including the video. I LOVE LOVE LOVE U2. And I have done my share of car dancing.
Your writing was fantastic, describing the disdain your mom had for the car, your pleasant surprise at the appearance of the car, what you were planning purchase for it, your music selection, and the visual on your dance with your sister. See? I paid attention.
Well done. I'll be back to listen to U2 again tomorrow 🙂
Great post – I love the image of you car dancing with your sister. Totally reminded me of something my cousin (kind of like a sister to me) and I did during one of our drive to (another favorite) They Might Be Giants "Birdhouse in your Soul". Great music – and great memories!
Thanks for bringing me back there. 🙂
Pamela D. Hart says
Oh what an awesome "sound" memory! Even "old, ugly" cars are BEAUTIFUL when you are young and they are YOURS!
(found you via TRDC)
Great post! I love car dancing, some of my best memories are dancing in the car. My kid has even started doing it too. And, yes, some songs have "choreographed" moves. 🙂
Great post! I was thinking your car was going to have a smell when you went to pick it up! I am glad music was your inspiration instead!
I love sister stories. Good job!
OH how you just sent me back in time! From your FB question yesterday to reading this to realizing that your 1970 Saab had a CD player in it before I finally had my '95 Tercel with a CD player in it in '96 (after the Smurfmobile's demise) to listening to Mysterious Ways to picturing you and Beans as teenagers…..such a vivid picture in my head of both of your smiling faces. :> Thanks! :>
ROFL! This brings back a lot of memories. My BFF and I used to choreograph song routines as well.
I am BIG on car dancing. It embarrasses my kids.
Memories about our first cars are always awesome – no matter what the car! Thanks for linking up, I enjoyed this.
I love this memory!!
So much fun.
My dad bought my brother and I a car too and it was a clunker but we spent many trips in it laughing, talking, and fighting.
This post brought back great memories.
I was there with you. Then and now. Loved the freedom and thrills of being 16. Thanks for bringing them back. And the sounds too.
The mental picture of car dancing is with me. You painted it well.
Galit Breen says
I heart Sadie. 🙂
I love how appreciative you were of your car. I adore that you named your music- it brought me right in. And i love your moment in time!
That kind of FUN with your sister is just that: Fun. And a perfect memory in the making.
This part was my favorite: "As soon as Katie and I heard that opening, our heads would snap in time to the music. Inspired by Madonna's vogueing, we'd each look in different directions in time to the music, hitting a new position with each emphasized hit of the notes." because I felt like I was right there with you!
Oh yes, gotta love interpretive dance! What a great description of a fun memory. I loved that you named your car. My best friend in high school named her car Bessie.
Achtung Baby came out my first year of college and always sounded like sex to me (not that I was getting any!). Sigh…
Music does that for me, too. For me, it's the Summer Lovin' song from Grease. 😉
HAHAH…this totally reminds me of my friend's car. She was the only one of my friend's in our social circle who had a car. It was a K-car. We called her Betty. I can remember that "Betty" didn't have a CD player (obviously) so we had gone to the second hand store and bought a bunch of cassette tapes. They were super old. I think we had a New Kid's On The Block tape in the mix.