Cars. They’re so many things to so many people. To some, they’re a means of transportation, a way to get from one location to another whether it’s for work or for play. To others, they’re the epitome of style, icons of a particular age representing tastes long since expired. But sometimes, like the Velveteen Rabbit, cars can go beyond being amalgamations of metal, spark plugs, screws, and wheels to become something much more–they can become “real.”
I’m sure we all know people (maybe even ourselves) who treat their cars as if they’re living beings. I’ve heard some guys refer to their cars as “she” and talk about their sexy curves. I’ve seen guys lovingly caress paint jobs on cars as if they were tenderly handling their lovers. Some have even given their cars names. Infamously, Stephen King’s Christine, a 1958 Plymouth Fury, had a will of her own to do some pretty nasty things. And let’s not forget KITT, the 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am who talked with its owner, Michael Knight, on the TV show Knight Rider.
I confess that I have given all my cars names starting with my first, a hand-me-down blue 1986 Chrysler K, which I affectionately called, “Jalopy.” Being at grad school and feeling rather lonely, Jalopy sometimes felt like the only friend I had at times. I talked to Jalopy and went to different places alone with Jalopy. He (because Jalopy had no curves) was familiar and comfortable to me like an old pal. We made many memories together.
Maybe it’s the memories that make some of us regard our cars like they’re people. After all, similar to our pets, we spend a lot of time around our cars. We feed them gas and oil, we wash them, and we take them to the garage or dealer when they’re sick. When they’re not happy and get run down, we’re not happy. The one question I can’t help asking–if we have books on how to name your cat or dog, why don’t we have books on how to name your car?