Wednesday, May 23, 2007


A few weeks ago I was all excited about mix tapes and was about to stage a revival of them. That hasn’t really happened. However, yesterday I plugged in my 50CD+1/tape deck that has lain dormant for so long and decided to give some old tape a try. Tony was working and I was all alone, I curled up in bed with War and Peace (I’m giving it another try as it is the one book I own that I haven’t read. At page 597 am almost halfway through!) and popped in a tape called “A Mix For Friend,” That Brooke made me when we graduated from SLC. It is an utterly awesome collection of songs, although Oasis “Live Forever,” gave me pause. It did capture the times though so I’ll let it slide. The songs were familiar enough that I could concentrate on my reading but, at times, they really started to take me back. They took me to so many different places that I can’t even begin to describe them all.

On of the places that I was reminded of over and over again was Bob. Bob was my car. He wasn’t my first car; that was The Little Red Mobile which deserves its own post. However, Bob was all mine. I paid my very own $200 for Bob and held the deed. Granted, the many hundreds and quite possibly thousands of dollars that went into keeping Bob running was primarily from my parents. They also paid for Bob’s insurance because they are good people. Nonetheless, Bob was mine.

I learned to drive stick on Bob. Dad had tried to teach me before but I crashed the car within 10 seconds (it jumped the curb into a tree, totally not my fault) and I was a little hesitant to learn after that. Since Bob was a stick, I had no choice but to learn. It was fun. To this day I prefer to drive stick. I think I owe that to Bob.

Bob was an old car, a 1981 two-door Volvo DL (not the 240 DLs you see all over the place just a regular old DL). I don’t know how many of you have seen a two-door Volvo but they are pretty funny, they have the biggest doors you can imagine. Bob was the best color, forest green with rust and Grateful Dead stickers. I could have cared less about the Dead and I removed the dancing bears from the back window. The skull in the front stayed, it simply belonged. Bob had a sun roof that was operated by crank and sometimes got stuck a little bit even though it appeared closed, you kind of had to push up on it to get it to close fully. If it wasn't perfectly closed and it rained little pools of water would form around the sunroof and as soon as you drove it would land in your hair, down your back, or in your lap. The seal around the stick shift was a little loose and you could pull it back to see the road zooming past under you. Bob had four gears and overdrive, I can still hear that hum when you hit the button and dropped him in. By the time I graduated, Bob had a tape player installed. For much of my time with him he had a tape deck wedged between the dash and the windshield. In case you can’t tell, this car was perfect.

I could fill post upon post with stories about Bob. "Bob and the Trip with Fewest Tolls," will have to be written at some point. That was a trip for the ages. This post isn’t about trips though, it’s just about Bob. It’s about who he was, and he was a good friend. He took me where I needed to go, when he would start, and I was glad that I never actually had to see him die. I left him when I moved to Chicago. I knew he was on his last legs and that I couldn’t afford $100 monthly to park him. Mom took care of him; it was the right thing to do.

As I listened to Brooke's tape, some of the songs really made me want to get Bob and drive. I didn’t care where I had to go as long as the weather stayed nice and it would take a minimum of three hours. Bob was at his best when journeying. As “If You Want To Be A Bird,” by the Holy Modal Rounders came on I had no choice but to put down War and Peace lean my head back and go OOOHHHHUUUAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUGGGGAAWWWWW, just like we used to do riding around in Bob, or Jules, or Thurman (his closest firends). It was a little strange that I was doing it by myself because singing the bird song was always a group activity. I let Brooke know what I was doing and she laughed at me appropriately. The thing is, if I was alone but driving in Bob I wouldn’t have felt silly singing it. I would have felt free, adventurous, unlimited. The bed just doesn’t do it like Bob could. As the tape drew to a close Lou Reed sang about a “Perfect Day”. Bob, I’m glad I spent so many with you.

1. Andy/ Would bicycle across town/ In the rain to bring you candy/ And John would buy the gown/ For you to wear to the prom/ With Tom/ The astronomer who’d name a star for you. The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side, Magnetic Fields. Identified by Sisterhead (on the last post as this one was going up so I’ll put it here to recognize how awesome she is)

2. I read the NEWS today oh boy/ About a lucky man who made the grade/ And thought the NEWS was rather sad/ well I just had to laugh. A Day In The Life, The Beatles. Identified by Brooke.

3. Nothing to here to fear/ I’m just sitting around being foolish when there is work to be done. Wednesday, Tori Amos. Identified by Brooke.

4. Life is hard/ And so am I/ You’d better give me something/ So I don’t die. Novocaine, The Eels. Identified by Monica

5. I pulled into Nazareth/ Was feeling bout half past dead/ I just need someplace/ Where I can rest my head/ Hey Mr. Can you tell me/ Where a man might find a bed. The Weight, The Band. Identified by Brooke (and yes, of course it was on the mix tape)


Brooke said...

Oh Friend, Bob was the best. The Trip of Least Tolls definitely needs to be written about someday. That was the same trip as the Time Bob Failed to Go, right?

I laughed out loud at work reading your description of singing If You Want to be a Bird. Couldn't possibly describe it better.

2. A Day in the Life - Beatles

3. Wednesday - Tori

5. The Weight - The Band (This better have been on that graduation mix I made you, or there was seriously something wrong with me)

Jeff Roberts said...

I enjoyed this. I still have dreams where my first car is sitting out back and I re-discover it and wonder why I'm not driving it around.

Monica said...

4. Novocaine by The Eels

Bob sounds like he was good.

Anonymous said...

It as your fault! At least it wasn't my fault.

You forgot to mention Bob's front end shimmy, that "smoothed out" when you got it to about 70 MPH.

Or when the drivers window got stuck in a semi-down position. The only way to keep from getting wet in the rain was to drive around 70 MPH

crazyspanishgirl said...

I took many pictures of my old car on the day I had to put it to sleep. I loved it. I love my brand new Chevy, but that old car had some great personality. Snif....

Mom said...

Natalie, your Daddy doesn't know how to spell. And it was definitely not your fault.

And Brooke and Monica beat me to posting song identities -- again.

Anyway, awww...., what a nice post! Bob was indeed a fantastic car. (Regardless of the costs of his initial restoration and various subsequent resuscitations).

I hope you have some pictures of Bob. (It never occurred to me to take pictures of my first car. But we do have photos of our 1976 Mazda Miser (808) wagon, which was of course the first car you ever rode in...)

Natalie said...

Brooke- Yeah that was the same fateful trip. I'm glad I could make you laugh. I laughed the entire time I was singing.

Jeff- I wish Bob would magically appear out back so that I could drive him around. He probably wouldn't start though.

Monica- You would have wanted to hug him.

Anonymous AKA Dad- I didn't say it was your fault. I just said it wasn't my fault. We'll just call it unfortunate circumstances. I forgot about the window problem and the shaking. What a vehicle!

CSG- I had intended to bring a picture of me hugging Bob to scan at work but I forgot. Maybe tomorrow.

Mom- I do have pictures, mostly from the trip of least tolls. I remember the Mazda. It was a good car too. Not like the stupid no personality having Tracer. Then again, it had a little more personality after hitting the tree.

Kiyotoe said...

completely off the topic, i really dig the way your mom AND dad read and comment on your blog. My mom is a lurker when she has the time and pops lurks also much more regularly than mom.

i've tried paying them to comment but i don't gross enough to cover the tab. :(

Travis said...

Great memories!

I can identify a little with this post. I've been unpacking and my latest treasure is records and cassettes! Hundreds of each.

Man, the memories I had as I pulled each one out of the box. It's a year's worth of posts at least.

With Love, Fat Girl said...

You inspired me to pull out an old Cult tape and give it a whirl. I needed the comfort after killing a millipede IN MY ROOM. I AM SO NOT SLEEPING A WINK TONIGHT.

Sling said...

I like Bob.
Solid,dependable,and just cranky enough to be endearing.

Johnny Yen said...

What a great post!

It's funny-- I suspect you're like me, not a "car" person-- but there are certain cars, usually funky old ones, that you get attached to. I had a "snot-green" (as a college roomie described it) 1976 Volkswagon Beetle, the last year they were made in Germany, that took me on many a fabled college road trip.

Lakeiya said...

I have to admit, I did almost tear up. Bob does sound fairly fantastic.

Eve said...

Bob sounds like a great car.

Natalie said...

Kiyotoe- I really like it too. Dad is much rarer than Mom in the comments section but it's pretty awesome.

Travis- Packing is one of my favorite things about moving for that very reason. I have some boxes like letters and such that I only open when I am about to move.

WLFG- I am so sorry that happened to you. The horror!

Sling- Excellent description. You sound as if you new him.

Johnny Yen- Your car sounds fantastic! I always wanted a VW Beetle. I still do.

Lakeiya- See I told you it was a post for the ages.

Eve- The best, oh yes, the best.