You can enter a car by the stretch method, putting your foot in first so one foot is on the ground and one foot is in the car, and shifting your weight until you are over the seat, then sitting down.
But a lady knows that the elegant way to enter a car is to sit and swivel, leaving both feet on the ground, with your back to the car, then sitting down and swinging both legs into the car.
This allows you to keep your knees together — appropriate — and makes entry easier even in a tight pencil skirt.
I’ve never really had a car that I could do the sit and swivel with. I’m big, and the combination of the car height with smooth upholstery, well, not really.
But this 1999 Volvo V70? Leather seats (at least the part you sit on), a big door and low to the ground. Possible.
When I was a teen, I wanted a Volvo wagon. I read that Jann Wenner bought one for all the writers at Rolling Stone and imagined Hunter Thompson in his. I would watch them all around Boston, solid and hip. I even remember seeing them at Sondre Stromfijord, but since Greenland is owned by Denmark, Swedish cars made sense there.
I have gone through car periods in my life. I started with hand-me-downs, a 1964 Chevelle with the little 184 truck engine, which I smashed, though I loved it and then a big Plymouth Satellite with a 318 that my parents had me replace the torqueflite in myself to teach me to be a man.
Then it was Toyotas, metric wrenches required, and between my brother and I we went through three or four of them.
After that, it was Dodge Darts with that slant 6 engine, including a tomato red one with black vinyl top.
I did drive Gini’s old Pontiac LeMans for a while, but then it was Subarus, with a vengance. My first one came from a bank auction, but I found a Subaru trained mechanic who started his own business.
Once I went with the car, and he said “$750.”
“$750 to fix this car?” I asked him.
“No,” he replied. “$750 to buy my wife’s car.”
I bought it. Sadly, he was called Lucky for the same reason the guy in the Three Stooges was called Curly, and his venture into snowmobile sales wasn’t really successful, so he dissapeared.
I left my last Subaru frozen on the side of the road in Gloversville, and then it was Ford Taurus. “Like driving down the street on your living room couch,” said Miz Ruby.
It was three of them, and I was really happy with the last one, bought clean from a car proud guy until a farmer pulled out in front of me. The car was totaled and it took six months for his insurance company to pay off half the value.
From then to now, it’s been hand-me-downs; a Plymoth Caravan my brother bought, my mother’s lilac Intrepid, my sister’s Subaru Outback with the replaced (and leaky) head gasket.
I couldn’t really just get in a car and drive. The Subaru flaked last time they went away, oil light on, and that’s almost a year of fear and staying small. I drove it to my sister’s this week with failed brakes; if Subaru didn’t have an emergency brake between the seats it would have been impossible.
But now there is a sliver V70 in the driveway that needs $600 worth of work on the power steering. That’s scheduled for next Friday.
And I resist taking ownership.
You see, I know that car has black upholstery to match my tights.
It’s not a guy junker.
It’s a woman’s car.
And it’s my car. The car I knew I would have as a kid.
That makes my stomach twitter.
It’s been hard to be around my parents and the car. My father wouldn’t go out and see it until my sister was here, three days after we picked it up.
I stay quiet and stressed. I don’t want the butterflies to do away; I want the magic of the car to stay, the magic that started when I got it against their pushing that I go to a dealer, that I not just trust but rather that I follow convention.
That V70 is my secret V.
And I can’t even imagine where it will take me.