Lots of people get attached to their cars, but I think the attachment is a little more profound for women because of the freedom that being independently mobile brings us.
My high school car’s name was Jack (because he was a Rabbit, aren’t I so clever?), and having him meant no more bumming rides, no more waiting to get picked up by grouchy parents or siblings and no more having to explain my every move to anyone. Me and my friends could cruise into Chicago from the suburbs to people-watch at the Punkin’ Donuts (at the corner of Belmont and Clark) on Saturday nights, and no one had to know we weren’t at the local Bakers Square all night.
After college, the first Millie (short for Milwaukee, where I bought her. Again, so very clever.) was a symbol of my financial independence after I got my first job. She was my first major purchase alone and the first time I got to pick out exactly what I wanted. She was also my first experience with car salesmen, but that’s a subject for a later column.
The second Millie, bought used in Evanston, came during a whirlwind of life changes, and I identify her as part of my experimentation at the time with a new job, a new girlfriend, a new apartment and new priorities.
Millie II carried me through eight years of loss, growth and change, always change. I didn’t want to say goodbye, even though it was long overdue, and I like to think she forced my hand by slowly — and expensively — self-destructing. The last straw was the day the mechanic told me she was leaking oil onto my exhaust pipe and could catch on fire. As much as I loved “The Hunger Games,” I wasn’t really ready to be a flaming Katniss Everdeen.
So I said farewell to Millie and vowed never to get so stinkin’ attached to a car again. Enter my new ride, a black Ford Focus named Moesha that I’m leasing, not buying. In three years, no matter how I feel about her or what she’s meant to me, she’ll belong to Ford once again.
I’ll admit it’s silly, but I think I’ll always feel a twinge of loss when I see a Golf on the road, and part of me will wonder who’s lovin’ Millie now. I hope she means as much to her new owner as she meant to me (and costs her half as much).