Four years ago, when I was approaching age 71, I made a ridiculous decision: I bought a ten-year-old car. It was not just any vehicle, but a yellow BMW Z-3, a German sports car in perfect condition. From the time that particular model was introduced over ten years before, I admired it, but the sticker price scared me off – well more than I paid for my first house. But I talked so much and so often about one, my family took pity and bought a scale model for my desk: bright yellow, black top, and shiny hub caps. It was the best gift I got that year for Fathers’ Day.
As I looked at the real thing sitting on the lot in front of me, all kinds of foolish questions went through my mind. Why should a senior citizen (and I am one) buy a car designed for college kids or pin-striped businessmen, who spend much of their time at the Par-a-dice? Have I saved enough for my grandchildren’s college funds? Could I still drive a straight stick? Could I even get in the car without hitting my head or banging my knee? Carl Luthy, the salesman, formerly from Elmwood, assured me that I would have no problem operating what another friend called a “chick car,” something a young guy would buy to attract “chicks.” At age 70, I was happily married, with three children and three grandchildren; I wasn’t sure I could handle a “chick car.” I was to find out very quickly.
The very next day, I drove my Z to the Washington State Bank drive-thru, parking directly in front of a middle-aged teller, trying to find the button to lower my window — first looking on the door, next on the dash, and finally finding it on the console. Although only a few seconds had elapsed, I felt as if had been sitting in front of the teller for hours. I felt embarrassed when the middle-aged female bank employee remarked, “If you ever have any problem whatsoever with your car, please call me and I’ll be glad to help, day or night.”
The next week, when driving in Galesburg, I came to a stop as the light turned red. While I was waiting at the light, a young high school kid, with mufflers roaring, pulled up beside me, rolled down the window, and asked, “Hey, pops, do you want to race?” Before I could say “No,” he squealed his tires before I had time to change gears.
A week or so later, I drove my yellow convertible with top down to Lindy’s Grocery Store in Washington. Getting out of the car, I could see some threatening clouds above the beauty parlor across the street. Although the weatherman had been predicting rain all day, I only needed bread and milk from the store. Surely I could buy them without having to put up the top. I was wrong. As I stood in the checkout lane, the clouds opened up for what was nothing more than a cloud burst, but with water dripping off my car, I thought I should buy a roll of paper towels. They were absolutely unnecessary. As I returned to my car, I saw two young attractive beauticians wiping off my black leather seats with big white towels, smiling about this opportunity to meet their knight in shining armor. I’m sure their dreams were dashed quickly when they saw me, a seventy-one year old, with gray hair, a little thick around the middle, coming to claim my “chick car.”
Let this story be a little reminder that buying a “chick car” as a senior citizen may not be all it’s cracked up to be! It may be more fun than you ever expected.
Karl K. Taylor