Monday, May 20, 2013

Rite of passage by Dave deBree

Reprinted with permission and thanks from Andrew LaBrie and Mark LaBrie at “The Notes”. First printed in May 1983.

The way I remember, she would hardly look at me. I’d see her around town and before I could get a good look she’d be gone. Despite her worldliness and indifference to me I dreamed of the day she’d be mine. She was gentle and pure yet sleek and strong; she could easily do without me and I guess that was part of the attraction. I’d daydream about us streaking down some straight of highway in the morning haze while the world and time would stop and we’d be lost in one another. Since then, a day hasn’t gone by when I haven’t thought of her.

I finally bought her for sixteen hundred and fifty bucks. Plus tax. She was a 1966 Chevy Corvette and the object of all my affections ever since Martin Milner and George Maharis had screeched around the country on the 60s television series Route 66. I still hum the theme song while I’m driving my Toyota today. But anyway she was mine at my tender age of nineteen.

She was an olive green beat of a machine with a 327-350 HP engine under the hood. She looked like jet but rode like a stage coach and when her engine idled she sounded like a contented lion with an antelope in its jaws. She made me a new man. Immediately, I raced out to buy some sunglasses and a denim jacket. With this baby in my grasp I’d surely have a crowd of admirers following me wherever I went. I had to look right. My public deserved at least that.

That night I went home and decided to grow some sideburns. I checked the mirror every hour for progress. As I headed out to crush the town with my new charisma I did what any nineteen yard old sex symbol would do. I asked Mom and Dad for some gas money. (After I bought the car I didn’t have a cent to my name, you see).

After I got the money from Dad, I staged a one-man onslaught on society which I knew would bring herds of woman fainting at the sight of my mag wheels. Once I found the clutch, I was out of my yard in a cloud of dust and charisma. I figured I’d take my Vette into Portland where I’d get the most exposure.  And so I went driving into the mysterious night without an inspection sticker, but I had all I needed- a Corvette and some yet-to-be-assembled throng of female admirers.

By now my name was in all the major gossip columns; women everywhere spoke my name or wished to know it. I was expecting a call from Cosmopolitan any day. Then maybe the Carson Show. Surely I could not be touched, for I was so elusive and so newly charismatic. The world was mine- then the right wheel fell off-while I was speeding around Baxter Boulevard looking for action. The mag sheared the lugs off and the wheel went bouncing, happily into Back Cove. And I experienced the first of many rides in a wrecker.

After many humbling experiences with my Bette, I finally sold her and the denim jacket, and I changed my driving habits along with the car. After owning a string of autos including a ’66 Ford Galaxie, a Dodge Dart, Volkswagon Bug and a Toyota Corolla I changed. I guess I just don’t drive very fast. I’ve been passed by everything from mopeds to back-hoes. Once I impeded the progress of a school bus. I thought I was going pretty fast. One day not long ago I was day dreaming about my olive green girl while driving my Toyota up I-95, and before I knew it I was pulled over by a police offer who, trying to choke back laughed quipped,
“Ya always drive with the emergency brake on, buddy?”

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