There She Was…Gone

This past Friday evening, I attended Diaries and Dissent in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. Organized by Rebecca Cuneo Keenan, it was a refreshing gathering of (almost all women) bloggers  for an open-mic night in the back room of one of the local restaurants. The event was a most-welcome diversion from my current crappy circumstances – a night out, an opportunity to bask in other talented writers’ creativity, a chance to share my own writing.

What I didn’t realize until the next day is that the theme was Love – so, my reading about a silly car I used to own was, perhaps, a tad out of place. But, I really did love that car. Ten years old when we bought her, she was a 1991 black convertible Lebaron. Eventually, we nicknamed her The Enchilada – more than just a car, she really felt like a member of the family. She brought my newborn son home from the hospital, and my husband and I cried together when she finally gave up the ghost.

She had personality. A sense of humour. Style.

And stories

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It was a typical Saturday in May 2007; warmish, sunny, perfect for taking The Enchilada out to run errands. I was 6 months pregnant, and quite frankly, tired of my man’s shit for the day. I sat crammed into the front passenger seat. Due to the large amount of supplies from Home Depot that stuffed the car, my seat was pushed all the way forward, knees around my chin. Over my right shoulder, sticking out my window were several 8-foot lengths of wooden boards for a garden project.

We pulled into the grocery store parking lot. Somehow, I extricated my girth from the car. For obvious reasons, we couldn’t leave the window down, so my man pulled out the boards and placed them on the ground underneath the car. He put up all the windows, shut the door, then realized that the keys were locked inside.

This, of course, was my fault. [Insert the special type of vicious banter that only long-term couples expecting their first baby engage in without breaking up here.] While mansplaining why it was my fault that he didn’t take the keys out of the ignition, my husband retrieved the hide-a-kay from the wheel well, got the keys from the ignition, locked the car, put the hide-a-key back in the wheel well, and we went about our business.

So wrapped up up in our own bullshit that we didn’t notice we were being watched. By a dangerous offender.

Pause for thought.

We did our groceries. When we returned to the parking lot, we found the wood where my man had placed it on the ground.

But no car.

NO. CAR.

NoNoNoNoNo. Nope. This is not fucking happening. But, it did and it was. The car was gone. Undeniably not where we left it.

Pregnant, cranky and no way to get my groceries home. It was awhile ago now, so some details are fuzzy – running in circles, hyperventilation, friends and neighbours trying to calm my pregnant ass down, a store manager that really just wanted me to go away. Somehow my best friend ended up at my side talking to the police who were called to the store.

Officer: What’s the make of car?

Me: A 1991 Lebaron. Black. Convertible.

Officer: That should be easy to find. There aren’t many of those left on the road.

My best friend: It also has a duct-tape roof.

Me: And no hubcaps.

My best friend: It should be really easy to find. The duct tape is silver. The whole roof.

Me: Okaaay. I think he gets the idea.

My best friend: Yeah, but it will be reeeeally easy to spot on the road.

She was right, of course. The thief chose to steal a one-of-a-kind, stand-out, people-stare-when-you-drive-by-because-it-looks-like-a-piece-of-shit kind of car. I went home, allowed friends friends to calm my pregnant hysteria and eventually went to bed, tired, sad and worried. At 4 in the morning, I was awakened by a call from Vaughan police saying they had recovered the car, exactly 12 hours after it was stolen.

The next morning, my best friend drove me to Vaughan to reunite me with The Enchilada. One hundred seventeen of my own dollars later, I got her out of the impound. She had to be towed, you see, because the thief (who was a 21-year-old violent offender wanted by the RCMP) didn’t give up without a fight. Police had to ram my beloved, unique little baby when he wouldn’t pull over. The driver’s side was fucked – dented, scratched – plenty new scars. The muddy footprints on the driver’s door also told a story of the thief being forcibly removed from the car through the window. There was a hole in the passenger seat where he had stabbed the Swiss Army knife he found in the console.

But.

He filled the tank with gas and only drank a couple of beers out of the case that was in the trunk.

And…

He got a weapons charge for the Swiss Army knife that belonged to us. He also left his cell phone in the car along with a huuuge NY Giants ball cap and one leather glove. (OJ much?)

So…

She had more wrinkles, more scratches and dents, but she was alive and we got her back along with a helluva story. For that, I am thankful.

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