Once upon a time, 16-year-old Frank bought a car. It was bluish-gray, five years old, had the greatest seat warmers for the winter, and I couldn't tell you what kind of car it was for the life of me.
Frank kept this car for the next seven years. It saw him through high school, college, and law school. He drove it to Chicago, New York, Virginia, and countless places in between. He picked me up in that car for our first date, and we were in that car the day we called our parents to tell them we were engaged.
But it wasn't until after we were engaged that Frank's trusty old car earned a name. We used to argue over the color—was his car blue or gray? A good case could be made either way. So on the day of our surprise eleven-mile hike, after going through that ordeal, I was so overjoyed to see his car that I christened it "Baby Beluga" to honor its whale-like appearance. We called it "Baby Blue" for short. I also made up an ode to Baby Blue, to the tune of Raffi's "Baby Beluga" song (I'll spare you the lyrics).
Frank and Baby Blue sojourned down to Virginia this past week for his spring break (which included our visit to Miami). Yesterday morning, he began his drive back to Chicago from Virginia. But late Monday afternoon, somewhere in the Middle-of-nowhere, Ohio, Baby Blue gave out on him.
We're not sure what exactly went wrong with Baby Beluga. All we know is that he suddenly stopped accelerating, and Frank barely had time to glide to the side of the highway before Baby Blue stopped running completely. After that, he wouldn't turn on, no matter what.
Luckily, a state trooper pulled up and stayed with Frank until a tow truck came to take Baby Blue to the nearest mechanic. Luckily again, there was a Motel 6 just up the road from the mechanic's shop, with plenty of restaurants and a grocery store in between.
So Frank stayed at the Motel 6 last night, and this morning he heard the verdict: after twelve years and close to 200,000 miles, Baby Beluga was done. Getting him to run again would cost close to $5000. So he said goodbye to Baby Blue and rented a car to take him back to Chicago.
I talked to Frank on the phone a few minutes ago about our plans for the future. We had always planned to be a one-car family for the first few years of our marriage, but now it looks like we'll actually be a no-car family instead. It's just not practical for us to buy a car right now. My parents have promised Frank the use of one of their cars while he's living with them, and in a real stroke of good fortune, the apartment we're looking to rent is close enough to his office that he'll be able to walk to work every day. We should be just fine without a car for the next six months or so.
But a part of us is still mourning the tragic end of Baby Blue. As Frank said on the phone, "I feel as though a pet just died.... I didn't think it would end like this." That car was with him through so much. It might be an inanimate object, but we sure are going to miss that car. Baby Beluga, RIP.