I lived happily for years in New York and Washington, DC without a car, and the times when I’ve owned one have always felt like a big hassle. So I’m not the type to fall in love with my car. Or maybe I just haven’t owned the right one yet.
When I was sixteen, I learned to drive the various wrecks my parents had. They bought all their cars used, and then we drove them into the ground. The only car in the fleet I could never master was the VW bus (reverse is backwards?), and putting it into gear was always a leap of faith.
My favorite car to drive was a yellow Datsun that I called Spudnut. It was so ugly it was cute, and I named it after a donut shop. Spudnuts was a local donut place in my hometown, and was a big lunch favorite in high school. Owned and run by a large family, the walls were decorated with all their off-spring and off-spring’s offspring, etc. And the donuts were excellent.
Right now I have a car again, and I’m happy to be able to go on trips out of the city. But driving in New York, and constantly moving it from one side of the street to another in order to avoid a ticket, is a pain in the neck. That’s why Lydia McKenzie in Posed for Murder does not drive. The only car she ever gets into is a car service, but she doesn’t have the budget to do it much. She also dislikes the subway (too many people shoved together). So what does she do? She rides a bike.
I gave Lydia a classic Schwinn. No crazy gears, and no fancy stuff. But it gives her the freedom to get around fast on the street. She also doesn’t enjoy following rules (which is a good personality trait in an amateur sleuth), so she rides the wrong way on one-way streets, and generally does what she wants. I would never dare to be so reckless (becoming a parent makes you very aware of your own mortality, I think–and very, very careful), so for now I let Lydia do all the bike riding while I stick to the bus and subway for most of my trips. It’s fast and doesn’t involve parallel parking.
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