Mercedes and the Single Girl by Deb Mia

1987. First year at Wellesley (yes, I went there by choice and no, I’m not a lesbian, and yes, okay, I am a Democrat and I voted for Bill, but no, I don’t vote straight ticket, I swear). I become best friends with a girl from MIT, my first real best friend since elementary school. She has a Mercedes 300D. It’s beige. I’ve never had a car, I don’t really need a car, but I totally want one, preferably one just like my best friend’s, so we can twin out.

I scrounge up what little money I have and buy the next best thing, a white Mercedes 240D. 1979. Over 100,000 miles. It barely makes it up the hill during the test drive (the weaselly seller is sitting next to me and literally flinches as he watches me floor it and the needle barely hits 20 mph). Later, I notice a plug sticking out from the front grill but I don’t want to look stupid so I say nothing. The seller mutters something about the engine being rebuilt. New paint job. In my naive bliss, I think this is GREAT and I slap down $2,500. Sold!

The “D” in 240D stands for diesel. Pro: it’s cheaper than regular gas. Con: nobody sells diesel near Wellesley.

The car needs to be plugged in on cold nights. Hello, I’m going to school in Massachusettsevery night is a cold night. Pro: I find an outdoor plug near the dumpsters behind the kitchen. Con: Campus police give me a ticket about once a week.

The best feature of the car is that it’s a Mercedes. My first car is a Mercedes! Pro: it looks gorgeous, especially with its sparkling white paint job. Con: the only place it’s looking gorgeous is in the parking lot, since I’m too paranoid to drive it in case it gets cold somewhere and I can’t plug it in. That, and some highways have a minimum speed. Sigh.

I have a dream where my car’s back window is smashed and rush outside in my pajamas to make sure it’s okay. Pro: my car’s back window is fine. Con: my best friend’s back window gets smashed that night while we’re at a party. She blames me and my “stupid dreams.”

2006. Nineteen years and two cars later. No more best friend (which is okay, because I’ve met Debutante Eileen), no more Mercedes 240D (we bought a brand new Volvo V70 in 2000 which I’m keeping until my daughter goes to college because I’m too cheap to buy her a car. Then again, she’s only six). Just the occasional trip down memory lane. Ahh, I can almost smell the diesel …

15 Replies to “Mercedes and the Single Girl by Deb Mia”

  1. Okay, someone is going to have to explain to this Florida girl what you mean by “plugging in” a car when it’s cold. You’re obviously serious, but I truly have no idea what you’re talking about! I feel so sheltered, and…warm ;D

  2. Hey, your first car sounds nice: barely running, but beautiful sitting still! My first car was orange — yes, I said ORANGE. But the best part was, well, it had no brakes! Okay, it had brakes, just not fully functioning ones.

    One day, as I was stopped at the stop sign at the top of my street (I was 18 and just happy I have wheels at all), my car stalled and started rolling backwards. I stepped on the brakes, but they didn’t work, and then I pulled the emergency brake handle and heard a “clunck” sound. Not good. Did I mention I was at the top of a HILL, and thus, rolling backwards?! No joke. Well, I eventually made it out alive. I first panicked and wanted to grab my purse, open the door, and just jump out. Save myself, right? But after imagining the innocent house, car, or pedestrian getting hit by a rolling, deserted car, I decided to try to stop my orange @^%$&! of a car by turning the heavy non-power-steering steering wheel. I managed to stop my car by getting it stuck in a hilly front yard of one of my neighbors down the street.

    So that was MY first car! Makes your white Mercedes sound like a dream, doesn’t it? Yep, yet again, we are reminded that things can always be worse!!!

  3. Ahhh…have you heard of that large, global auction site? I bet you’d be able to find the exact same model with less miles and relive the entire experience? Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to read more….

  4. Apparently it is a diesel thing. Which, aside from polluting our environment, gives great gas mileage.

    I was surfing to find more information on the plug-in heating block for everyone (sure, I have page proofs due. But I want to do my share in making this grog fun AND educational …). I stumbled across this:

    “The Mercedes Diesels suit a particular type of driver, so take a moment to consider whether or not this is the right vehicle for you.” Well, that much is clear. $2,500 and a bazillion campus parking tickets later! Where was the net when I needed it back then?!

    I forgot to write about the hubcaps. Those damn hubcabs. Enough said.

  5. I have a feeling that if I was around back then, I would have been the one trying to find a place to plug in that car! Glad we now live in Hawaii, where we’re looking for just the opposite – a place to keep the car cool, like in the shade under a palm tree at the beach. Just to let you know, I’d do anything for you, including freezing to death, because I love you.

    Your Husband

  6. Here in Vermont, it’s quite a normal thing to plug your car in. (I think it has something to do with keeping the oil warm????) We also cover our cars with blankets on very cold nights. Don’t know if this really helps, but it’s one of those things all our neighbors do, so we do it too…

  7. OK, plug comes out of the heating block (part of the engine), through the grille, and into any electric socket. Weird, I know. It’s like, “Charging up my phone battery, running the dehumidifer, plugging in my two-ton Mercedes Benz …”

    And my husband finally checked out the blog (he was totally lost and confused at first – very cute) and left a comment that got me all emotional … and he’s right, I’d be warm in the dorm while he’d be bundled up looking for a free outlet somewhere …

  8. Clearly none of you has lived in a really cold place like chicago….we had to “plug’ the car in even whilst it was sitting in a garage…actually in those days (realize i’m talking about the days when the world was in black and white..the50’s)it wasn’t “plugging in ” the car it was leaving a light bulb turned on all night under the hood, which created enough heat to keep the fluids fluid and the battery able to start but not enough heat to blow up the car….it wasn’t an electircal cord attached to the car then…
    here’ a good rule of thumb for a first (or any ) car value never more than equal to 2-3% of total net worth—that way you can sleep at night knowing if some one hits it ,or it rolls down a hill….your still ok.

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