If I were a dog, I’d be the kind that’s easier to shave down than to groom. I wear the same clothes all week and often get past noon before I put on a bra or look in a mirror. I am a woman who, in a pinch, goes to the party with earrings that nearly match, betting no one will notice. I color my own hair even though, fairly frequently, the girls discover fist-sized gray sections in the back I can’t see or reach. I never change filters or replace toothbrushes or stretch. My wanton disregard for maintenance of all types is what Edward was referring to when he “joked” that it was “on-brand” for me to proudly drive Big Blue.
Big Blue came into my life a few months before Claire did. Seven months pregnant with a second kid, it was time to upsize. We traded our VW Bug for a Honda Pilot. She was a beaut, Big Blue, until she wasn’t, until every crevice held the detritus of early childhood: Cheerios and rice cakes, bubble gum and boogers, Ziploc baggies, hair ties, granola bar wrappers, pointless pencils. Also, because I often force it on the girls while I drive, lightly used dental floss.
Edward stopped driving her and, after three or four years, launched a campaign to replace her, “while we can still get a decent trade in value.” Short of disaster, my goal was to take Blue 150,000 miles. “Ten years, Eddy. That’s my dream.” Shortly after this conversation, Blue’s body was deflowered in an underground mall parking lot when I underestimated my distance from a car-eating concrete pillar striped with the paint of many previous victims. The dent on my door was deep but the car still locked and the window still went up and down so, functionally, Big Blue was uncompromised.
Not a week later, in the Safeway parking lot, a clean-shaven, outgoing man in a red truck drove slowly toward me, his arm hanging out the open window like he might want to shake hands. His truck was jacked up on beefy tires that spoke convincingly to his manhood. A sign on the side read: “Phil’s Body Work.” Phil offered to fix Blue’s dent while I shopped. I had never heard of such convenience. Had I just fallen into the perfect compromise for Edward, who “has standards”?
“How much?” I asked.
“For you? $150,” Phil said. “It’s worth it, Miss.”
Miss? I felt so young, I nearly blushed. “You see right here?” He pointed to…