You See Me Rollin’: A Girl and Her Cars (Not a Love Story)

IMG_1325I have never really considered myself a Car Person. It has never mattered that much to me what kind of wheels were getting me from Point A to Point B. If someone were to, say, hand over a sizeable amount of money to me, upgrading my vehicle would not come before upgrading my entire footwear collection or shiplapping the heck out of my laundry room. I kind of do with cars what people used to do with jobs: find one that delivers and keep it as long as it will have you. Some of my cars have inevitably petered out before I was done with them. My current car is starting to show its age. At 11 years old and counting I get the feeling that it may only make it a couple more years – if even. That just got me thinking about all my cars over the years. So, for your entertainment, here is how I have answered the question “What You Rollin’ In?” since, well, I started rollin’…

I’m Rollin’ In… A 1984 Ford LTD: Oh, yes I did. For months I dreamed of a Jeep Wrangler, and what I got was this major upcycling project. It started with the name. This car had more nicknames than the pledge class of Animal House. The Fantastic Slide. The Silver Ace. The list goes on and on. This car was my first – the definition of a “Beaute” and a true character building experience. And riding in it was truly a Fantastic Voyage.

The second step to upcycling this car was to add a plethora of surf shop stickers on the bumper. I mean, what land-locked Atlanta girl does not put Ron Jon stickers on the bumper of her car? This car ran into things a lot, and was present on the scene (and possibly involved) when I learned that it was not smart to drive in soccer cleats. There was also the time that it got stuck in reverse and would only go backwards. Ironically, this happened when I went to deliver the check to reimburse my soccer teammate for the damage incurred to her car (from someone backing into it while wearing soccer cleats). And since a car that can only go backwards can only take you so far, I had to move on.

I’m Rollin In…A 1986 Ford Tempo Sport: Sport. Yep. I think that the red racing stripe down the side was the reason that this little darlin’ was a dubbed a Sport (as opposed to Regular?) Ford Tempo. It was how I learned to drive a stick shift. I would break out into a cold sweat if somebody got too close behind me on the big hill on the way to lifeguard at the Pangborn pool. Fortunately, people were intimated by said racing stripe, and would stay far enough back for me not to roll into them. Unfortunately, our relationship was short-lived. If the Ole Sport had not stalled at the intersection on the way to Freshens at rush hour, I might still be driving it today.

I’m Rollin In…A 1996 Mitsubishi Eclipse: Talk about trading up. This car was new. And it was red. And I was a senior in high school. And I thought I was Hot Stuff. Not only did it go forward (in addition to backwards), the windows rolled up and down and it had a CD player, which meant I could blast “When Daddy Let Me Drive” by Alan Jackson as loud as I wanted and drive with my shoes off and the windows down. And when I got into The University of Georgia, that red and black G sticker looked really good on the back windshield (sorry Ron Jon).

The maximum capacity (“four”) of that vehicle was clearly stated incorrectly in the instruction manual. I can distinctly remember several times when the Eclipse sat eight quite comfortably. (Nothing prepares you for motherhood like driving around seven intoxicated people. Some are crying, some are fighting over chicken fingers…) If those seats could talk. But those seats are not saying anything right now because the Eclipse stalled on Highway 316 and I had to ride in the passenger seat of a tow truck to get both myself and that little Red Hot back to my parents’ house. But it got me through college and a few years beyond.

I’m Rollin In…A 2001 Isuzu Rodeo. The person who decided to make a four cylinder SUV was probably just as practical as the person who decided it would be a good idea to purchase one. I wanted an SUV and this was the only one that my budget as a newly employed individual could sustain. You could floor it and not much would happen. Except that one time when I had just started my new job and it had snowed the night before. In Columbia South Carolina, no less. I could not see out of the windshield, but decided that it would be fiiine to try and make it through the apartment complex gate so that I would not be late for my second day of work. Well I made it through. Aaalll the way through. If you lived in Hampton Greene Apartments in 2004 (…and even into 2005) and did not have a gate in your gated community, that was me. I am sorry.

I’m Rollin in… A 2006 Toyota Sequoia. This car may not have as many nickanmes as my first, but it is big and green and kind of reminds me of Oscar the Grouch’s Rolling Trashcan. I have always wanted to be one of those moms who does not let her kids eat in her car (my husband would like this very much, too) but seeing as my kids are Always Eating and somehow we are Always Driving Around, I see no alternative solution. You could probably compile an entire bowlful of extra crunchy (and a little furry) snack mix from the plethora of Cheez Its, Cherrios, and French Fries that lie petrified underneath the seats. In the market? Shall we talk resale price?

I’m not really sure what l’ll be rollin’ in next, but it will probably be something big and safe and won’t be that Jeep Wrangler that I dreamed about as a teenager. I mean, it doesn’t have enough seats for carpool, and people would just say I’ve lost my fool mind. In some ways, my unrealized dream of the Jeep Wrangler is probably the reason why I have never been much of a car person, anyway. But if you see a giant green Sequoia lumbering down the road full of kids, snacks, shoes and shiplap, just smile, wave and know that the hour is nigh…

Regardless of the type of vehicle she is in, Kelly Barbrey still prefers driving in bare feet with the windows down on an open road with some Luke Bryan playing. This is Mortifying to her children. Just wait till they ask for a Jeep Wrangler and get a Silver Ace...🚗 🤦🏼‍♀️

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