97: The Muscle Car

97: The Muscle Car

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

The Muscle Car

Here’s to freedom, cheers to art. Here’s to having an excellent adventure and may the stopping never start.

~Jason Mraz

I have been married for forty-six years. People ask, “How do you and Bob do it?” There are the obvious answers — trust, consideration, honesty, patience and respect. But mostly, I think it’s because we have taken advantage of some unexpected opportunities and just had fun. Recently, for example, our relationship was enhanced by an automobile accident when my car was “crunched” by an attendant at a “free” valet service. I decided to rent a car for five days — a Camaro.

We had, of course, heard about them since they came out. My sister had a green ’72 Camaro and loved it. My daughter always wanted one with the flame effect — she never got it. I asked Enterprise if there was a black one with red flames trimmed with gold on the hood, but they said that was a little high-end for them. So I took a 2015 black Camaro — a bit more subdued, but we liked it.

We were driving “the car of youthful dreams.” I knew it was going to be fun the first time I stepped on the gas. We seemed to explode down the road.

What did we think of it? Well, first Bob and I had to get in it and we were not sure we could. Both septuagenarians, we’ve lost lots of flexibility, but we were ready for an adventure.

The roof was low, the seats narrow, and windows so long and slender they seemed almost non-existent. Eventually we learned to enter it by simultaneously bending, swinging, and dropping. We got pretty good at it.

Vision from the interior was difficult, but the mirrors were terrific and so were the large doors. Closing them needed someone with seven-foot long arms, but nothing is perfect. By driving fast, we managed to look almost like we belonged in a Camaro. By the time admiring observers realized how old we were, we were gone.

San Diego County is about the size of Connecticut. Its mountains, over 6,000 feet high, are just forty-five miles from the silvery beaches of Coronado and La Jolla. We tried to cover as much of the county as we could.

On our first day, Bob and I drove up to Julian, a charming nineteenth-century gold mining town. The mountain road wound past pine and oak trees, boulders, fields, and cattle, all a blur as the tires clung to the curves in our “muscle car.” The motor’s roar was rich and low, the sound of strength; the pipes in back rumbled, pushing the vehicle forward with a surge of speed reminiscent of a black jaguar lunging at prey.

We strolled Julian’s wooden walks and dirt paths on the side of the main street. There are no large grocery stores, no fast-food places, and only one service station; but it is crammed with restaurants and a wide variety of small stores for shopping. We selected Romano’s, a longtime center for Italian food and community get-togethers.

On the way home, as the shadows lengthened in the afternoon’s setting sun, we reflected on the variety and beauty of the valleys and mountains. The car hugged the road as we made our way to Interstate 8 and home. Our first adventure was over; but we were not finished.

We drove all week — the mountains; La Jolla with its tricky traffic; downtown San Diego. We toured, we shopped, we visited renowned restaurants.

There was the fun, excitement, and challenge that two elderly, long-married people can have but seldom do. There are always routines and schedules, but there are also new opportunities. When those opportunities arise, take them — at any age.

The long-term advantage Bob and I gained from that Camaro? We did not argue or bicker once during that week — even as Bob gave me vague and dubious directions through the mid-day crowded downtown traffic. As long as you are active and curious, and have a good sense of humor, you are not too old to speed down life’s highway. We enjoyed each other as much as we did that Camaro.

~Janet Bower

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners