A Car Named Cosmo

by Madeleine Clute


To many teenagers, owning a car is a quintessential part of the American dream. A car is freedom, fun, and speed rolled into one machine. Ideally, these tickets to freedom come in sleek, shiny, perfectly polished bodies, with hundreds of horses under the hood. My freedom came in a slightly different package. My package lacked both airbags and anti-lock brakes, and was several years my senior, but nevertheless brought me more happiness than any newer car could have.

1988 Corolla AdvertisementThe car that would eventually become known as “Cosmo” was born in 1988. It was a powder blue Corolla, with a matching blue cloth interior—a decorative choice only the ‘80s could bless. My aunt, then in her mid twenties, bought the car with little knowledge it would eventually belong to her still unborn niece. She drove it for several years, before selling it my grandfather. My grandfather then sold it to my uncle, who at the time was a college student. He drove it for a decade or so, and once married, sold it back to my grandfather, who continued to drive it for another nine years. Upon getting my license, I searched for a car that was within my price range, as my parents had made it clear that if I wanted a car of my own, I would have to finance the endeavor myself. Unfortunately, I found no cars that I could insure, afford, and buy gas for. My dream was deferred for a year. The past summer however, on a college visit, my mom and I stopped at my grandparents’ house, and I noticed that, as my grandfather is somewhat of a car enthusiast, they had accumulated four cars.

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Driving Myself Crazy Searching for the Ecological Solution

by Susanna Starr


Since speaking on the cell phone is prohibited when you’re driving in Santa Fe, I pulled over to answer mine, which rang just before approaching Beaver Toyota. So, it was the most logical thing to drive into the parking lot of a large car dealership.

After getting off the phone, I was approached by a nice looking young salesman who asked if he could show me something. Without having any previous thought as to purchasing a vehicle, I responded by saying, “Only if you have a used hybrid that’s not a small car.” A small car would never fit my lifestyle. My modus operandi is to throw all kinds of stuff into my vehicle -- bags of compost, stacks of newspapers for recycling and lots more.

It was a rather flippant reply, since I was there by accident rather than intention. But truth be told, for some time I was feeling upset about the outrageous cost of fuel that my much-loved Land Rover was using due to the obscene rise in fuel costs, with the government for supporting the oil companies, and with the oil companies for notoriously exploiting the American consumer for many decades. So maybe, just maybe, I was somewhat primed for a change.

Meanwhile, the nice looking young guy smiled and said, “I just got in a two-year old Highlander – it hasn’t even been washed yet.” I told him that I wasn’t really serious and he said, “Why don’t you just look at it”? I looked over at my friend who was sitting next to me and he just shrugged. For him that was a major understatement, since he is well known for his love of buying vehicles. He’ll buy one for himself or help anyone else who shows the slightest interest in buying a car or truck, new or used. Now, however, he took great pains not to influence me in any way.

What could I do but at least look?

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Are We There Yet?

by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers

It comes from the back seat, in varying tones of voice. Sometimes it’s said with anticipation, as when we’re on the way to the White Mountains and Mary is primed for a day at Story Land -- or when it’s that ice cream time of the afternoon. Mary’s always primed for that. Sometimes it’s said with a yawn, when we’re headed home after a day’s skiing at Gunstock Mountain. In our car it’s never a whine, because everyone knows what happens to whiners – no one can hear anything they say.

photo courtesy Stillman Rogers PhotographyBetween the two of us, my husband and I have developed quite a repertoire of responses. Some are met with a few moments of puzzled silence as the layers of implication sink into an 8-year-old mind. Some are met with immediate protests of disbelief, others with a long series of giggles. We are heartened by the latter, because we can’t imagine traveling with anyone who doesn’t have a sense of humor.

This isn’t actually all 110 of the answers we have come up with, but enough to get you started. Once you get the hang of it, the possibilities are endless.

“Yes, that’s why I have stopped the car here by the side of the road under these pine trees next to a swamp, without a house in sight. Be sure to tell me when you want to go somewhere else.”

“Not quite yet. I expect it will be only 16 more hours, 26 minutes and 43 seconds. Too bad there’s no place to stop for food on the way.”

“I have no idea, because we aren’t actually aiming for any place.”

“I’m completely lost. I think we’re actually heading away from there right now.”

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