I sold my car!
Yes: exclamation point.
All right. I know I'm not the only one - or even the first person - to sell a car. Only this was different. This was MY car.
The car, a dazzlingly red Pontiac TransAm, caught my eye when I was on campus (commuting in those days) for a lesson.
There it sat, the prettiest car I'd even seen, with a large FOR SALE sign in the side window. I had to return for a second, then a third, look.
I was about to ... well, maybe not celebrate but cross nonetheless - one of those really big birthdays. I had no financial responsibilities or, really, any reason not to think about a car like this. Just for fun.
An inquiring phone call revealed it was owned by a Buffalo Bill. In those days Fredonia was the glory place where the football team practiced. Ultimately I learned he was being pressured to sell because of all the speeding tickets amassing on frequent forays back to his Alabama home. I was happy with the price but surprised, once we settled, to discover it was less than the bank's outstanding loan. Nobody claims football players have to be math whizzes, right?
The car and I lived happily together for what became almost a third of my life. Of course the memories racked up: the windshield cracked by a stone when my young grandson sat up front with me. I shudder now (as I'm sure I did then) when my daughter regaled me (as she always did after the fact) of the speeds she could reach coursing through the late night streets of Pittsburgh.
Eventually time (as it has a nasty way of doing) took a toll on me if not on the car. Selfishly, I began to want more: a vehicle safe on rainy roads, not to mention snow, and one that wouldn't die each winter when it could do nothing but sit in the garage. I wanted reliability.
Hearing that I was considering getting rid of it, a grandson eagerly emailed his offer to take it off my hands. He was, however, just starting college and I didn't want to saddle him (or a student locally) with what could become a major liability at any time. Beyond infrequent oil changes, nothing had been done to its insides in many years.
It took a while. Craigslist got me nowhere, the newspaper ads resulted in a creative joke call but then I settled into a long wait. The one serious buyer did come through - many months later. The price - of course not anywhere near what I thought its value emotionally - was fair. While saddened to sign the final papers of "divorce," I knew it was far wiser than waiting through yet another winter.
Keeping meticulous records as is my wont, I see that when I first bought gasoline, it cost $12.50. Twelve dollar and fifty cents - that was for 11 gallons. Even I don't remember that long ago!
Twenty years later (with only 6,000 miles added on) the same amount cost $36. Prices haven't stopped rising since.
And of course there were all the trips. Mostly I visited family. They moved more than I: Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina (during Hurricane Bob), Indiana and Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky and home. The last trip was in 1997 to the Baseball Hall of Fame and a chance to discover the lovely area around Cooperstown.
That's 14 years since it's had a chance to roar except on local roads when, fortunately, empty.
I actually brought home a replacement before letting the old one go.
I guess the TransAm didn't mind. It behaved beautifully on its final run with me.
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org