|Trigger with Roy Rogers. Snappy dressers. Watch your foot, there, Roy...|
For two generations now (my kids and their kids), it's been Star Wars. Whether it's video, or fantasy play, or trick-or-treating, the boys, at least, are Storm Troopers or Darth Vader. I grew up on Westerns, beginning with Roy Rogers and ending with the epic boredom of Bonanza.
There was once a small scar on my left cheek, installed there around 1954 when my little sister winged a cap pistol at me in a moment of fury over some insignificant offense of mine. Those pot-metal cap pistols were held together with rivets, and the sixgun she threw at me had a loose one. She was not much for dolls and the like. But she was thrilled, at age 6, with her Cowgirl Outfit: skirt, western shirt, stetson, boots, and a sixgun. I was equally thrilled to be packing heat and wearing a faux tooled leather belt with a big buckle. Neither of us now remembers what I said to outrage her. But it probably had something to do with girls not being real cowboys.
While they were supporting actors in Westerns, horses didn't figure much in my fantasy play. How my sister felt about them when she was little, I don't know. As a teenager, she had a friend who had horses, and she sometimes rode. But she wasn't consumed with affection for them, as many teenaged girls are. My only experience with a real horse was when one stepped on my foot at summer camp when I was about 10. We were in a riding rink of soft clay; I escaped with only a fright--and a subsequent lifelong mistrust of horses.
Just the same, I've always thought of my favorite cars as Trusty Steeds. Take good care of them, and they'll take care of me. This began with my first car and continues today with my Honda Civic Si. At the end of a good road trip, I pat the dashboard and say "Good job, old girl. Want a carrot... er... can I top-up your windshield washer fluid?" (As I've said here before, my sister thinks about cars like she thinks about washing machines and hedge trimmers. Is it inexpensive to buy, cheap to run, reliable, and easy to use? If so, that's all she needs or wants to know.)
Jeremy Clarkson compared the Honda Civic Type R (the U.K. version of the Si) to a terrier. He said that when you sit down in the driver's seat, the car begins running around your legs and doing cartwheels. "Let's go, let's go, let's GO!" That metaphor works for me too.
|Two Honda Civic Si's at a track day. No... wait... two Jack Russell Terriers on the beach with a ball.|
Of course not all cars have made my Trusty Steed grade. Some were just transportation. Some annoyed me. It was tempting to put them out of their misery, and me out of mine, when they broke down. Some that broke down still achieved Honorary Terrier, if not Trusty Steed, status. The 124 sedan, for example: I worried that it might have to be put down (and it did). But it still got dashboard pats because it was a fun drive. Cars with a dual personality are best. On a road trip, you need a Trusty Steed. Around town, you want a terrier.