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 Massachusetts – every 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 …