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  • Writer's pictureSandra Lee

Gutless Wonder


she regretted the car almost immediately. it was just a run-of-the-mill thing. silver. kinda pretty. everyone thought it looked nice. but it was made outta a whole lot of plastic. it just wasn’t her. but it was practical and she was being very practical in those days. she had to, she thought. she had changed her life in so many ways that was frightening to most people, so she had gone practical with the car purchase. she was poor, and had quit her money making job.

she liked heavy cars. not necessarily the most expensive nor the most popular. hell, she liked Subaru’s. they were cool she thought. and El Dorado’s from the 70’s. she wanted power. get up and go baby. with the practical car she had bought -you stepped on the gas- hard- there was this 2 second hesitation and then it made this incredible straining noise with absolutely no pick up. she would even lean forward trying to make it go faster. she couldn’t count on it to not get out of the fucking way of the semi that seemed to be always bearing down on her as she punched it on the on-ramp to the freeway. her face would actually flush in embarrassment as she’d wave feebly at the real cars having enough power to spare as the drivers shot her a look of disdain. she would mouth sorry at their tail lights and feel like an old woman.

not that she needed a hot rod. tho she had had several during her lifetime. and also really great old-man cars. she liked really big old-man cars. sleek. long. wide. like the ‘67 Plymouth Belvedere. so heavy that unless she stood on the brakes, it ended up in the middle of the intersection. that thing just would not stop, once it got going. 384 inch motor on that baby. weighed 6,000 lbs tho. and she would have to start turning the steering wheel before she even got to the corner-if you started too late the centrifugal force would swing the whole car into the opposite lane. and what about the ’67 Lincoln Continental with suicide doors? of which she drove about 20 times before selling to her hot-rod-lovin 17 year old son. that thing ate gas like no other. she would drive her husband's stick shift '65 Land Cruiser and his '71 Ford flatbed something or other. she had to haul bales of hay for her 17-hand Thoroughbred/Appy mix. all she knew is that she wasn't afraid to make the tires pop and bounce off the pavement as she took off from the stop sign. now that was some fun driving!

so spring forward 25 years and she’s in a pretty Toyota Corolla the she didn’t love. she held off on cleaning it, and was always busting the tires. careless about what she ran into. one night she even busted 2 tires at a time. she didn’t care about the thing. she bore the regret for 2 years, and thought she had to. had to? oh my, but those were fightin words. last Saturday she got in her pretty but filthy Corolla and made a bee-line to the Nissan dealer that had used cars. she was looking at the Honda Element. it was 8 years old, but someone had loved it and it looked like new. it’s big storage and cool camping package and all-wheel drive and manual transmission which hauled ass when you wanted it to and appealed to her redneck nature. it was bouncy and drove like a truck. she never gave the practical Corolla a backward glance as she cleaned the mountain of debris that was in the trunk of the gutless wonder. not really surprised that she bought the big old-man car without the intention to that morning and without looking at any others. the best decisions she’d ever made were in the moment of coming upon them.

she drove the truck/car and felt brave. courageous. powerful. strong. sure. on the move. like her old self. free…. to go. there was so much unknown that she was itching to see and experience.

she had been gutless for a while. like the car she used to drive. no get up and go. thinking she had to. be responsible. be practical. work hard. stay. accept. not explore the unknown. be in a state of regret. wishing. waiting.

at a stop sign, she mused on Colorado. why not. she gunned the engine and put it in first and burned rubber.

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