I drive a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and if I didn’t take such horrible care of her, it wouldn’t be too out of line to say she’s my baby.
The tires are bald, my left blinker has been on the blink for longer than I care to admit, and as luck would have it, the A/C went out the week before I took her to Carmax. She’s got the mechanical issues only a mother can love unconditionally. And love her, I do.
Not to be too political here, but her true name is the Gray Pearl named after none other than the Black Pearl, helmed by none other than Captain Jack Sparrow.
I’m not a car fanatic, but when I finally faced the brutal fact that I was going to have to sell The Pearl, my stomach flipped. It’s not about selling my vehicle per se, it’s about what happens in the car. And what happens in the car is music.
As a kid – and well into my high school years – weekend mornings were spent hitting the McDonald’s drive-thru with my dad on the way to softball tournaments hours outside of town. While he listened to AM radio – if you don’t know what AM radio is, politely see yourself out - this particular Saturday he played a CD my mom had just burned for him. And if you don’t know what burning a CD or Limewire is, politely see yourself out.
As the words Teenage Wasteland reverbed in the car, I turned to my dad speechless and asked who was singing. “The Who?” He asked me, appalled I didn’t recognize it. “Yeah, who?” I asked. What?
He must have been truly disappointed in me because we only listened to music in the car from that day on.
While he smoked a Marlboro Red out the window of his Ford Ranger, I was having a spiritual experience with Baba O’Riley mere inches away in the passenger seat.
The next half-decade of car rides was filled with The Boss, Van Morrison, The Eagles, and occasionally my mom would slide her CD in and play The Temptations, The Bee Gees, The Go-Gos, and for a real treat, ABBA.
Before my sister left for college, we’d drive for hours in her Jeep Wrangler with the top off and hit the nearest Jamba Juice which was 45 minutes 'down the mountain.’ She showed me the secret menu – hello white gummy – and blew my 14-year-old mind with bands like Cartel, Panic at the Disco, and Cobra Starship. Once I got my permit, I repaid her favor by blowing her speakers – I’ve yet to tell I was the guilty party.
Eventually, I got my very own Jeep and blew those speakers as well – a Liberty named after Louis from OneDirection who I will marry.
I got my license before my older brother because I’m obviously way smarter than him. And as a result, he made me pick him up from all the high school parties. I now realize he was way smarter and completely played me.
One egregiously late evening, he and his friends crammed in the backseat smelling especially herbaceous, unplugged my iPod Shuffle, and plugged his in.
Banger after banger, it was A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Beastie Boys. Was my brother… cool? Was I? Were we?
Louis, my sweet, sweet Jeep met his fateful end on the final day of senior year. I left him totaled on the side of the road and missed my high school graduation.
Out of sheer panic that I was without a car and about to blow the speakers in my mom’s car, we hit the Jeep dealership and I drove off in . . . The Pearl.
Louis got the job done, and may he rest in peace. But The Pearl was employee of the month.
For once in my life, I can truthfully say that I did not blow the speakers in my car. The year and model of my Jeep were subject to electrical issues particularly affecting the speakers. They weren’t blown, they were broken.
I had no speakers and no money to fix them, but I did have a phone and a cup holder. We called it the amphitheater and while it wasn’t ideal, it played sold-out shows for years until I saved up enough money to fix it. JK, I put it on my credit card and I’m still paying it off.
I look at The Pearl with her Avengers sticker peeling off the back left corner and a Sex Wax air freshener dangling from the rearview mirror. And I think about NYC. No windows to roll down on the train, no steering wheel, no AM/FM. Do I ask my Uber driver for the AUX? Do I listen to Pusha T in AirPods at a low volume? Or worse – do I start listening to podcasts?
Who Jenna will be without Jeep is yet to be discovered. But for now, I have exited the vehicle. And I’m depressed.