I started talking to my car right after I bought it.
At six am, on the morning when I was to start teaching at a new school, I greeted him.
"Good Morning, Yoshi," I said.
Our talks continued. On the way to and from work, I talked to him about what was bugging me. When drivers cut me off, I bitched: "Omigod, Yosh. Can you believe that guy?" One night, I was pulling bags out of the trunk, when it came down suddenly, on my head. I yelled at him like a Dad: "Yoshi!"
In my family, it's tradition to name our cars. Currently, we have five. There's George the Geo, Cam the Camry, Holly the Honda, Vercingetorex the Voyager, and Yoshi the Yaris. Each name was carefully considered, alongside several options, and the personality and look of the car. At my house, we don't mess around.
It's hard not talk to a car after its been named. As with any pet, or child, once a name is given, a personality seems to follow, inexplicably. Yoshi has been no exception. He's just like a little boy. He likes to go fast. He growls whenever I hit the brakes. He's also very helpful. Sometimes he goes and gets gas while I'm at work. I'll climb into the driver's seat and find that I have more gas than I did when I left him.
"Thanks, Yosh," I say.
Oh, I know what you're thinking. Duh, Anney. You need to get your gas gauge checked, before you run out on the highway at two o'clock in the morning.
I say, me and Yosh, we got a bond. You don't even know.
Two weeks ago, the first snow of the season dusted down over southeastern PA. Most of the area got only flurries. There was a small area, just outside of Philly, that suffered a mild blizzard. KYW called it "the red belt." My commute took me straight through it.
At a quarter to eight, Yoshi and I were stopped on winding, snow-covered back roads. Cars were backed up everywhere. Because the snow had fallen during rush hour, it was packed into ice. Everyone was being extra careful, inching at a wheelchair's pace. Of course, there's no point in going slow on ice. Ice is ice. Wheels can't catch on it. Up and down route 352, people were coming out of their homes to help push cars that were stuck, wheels spinning aimlessly.
Yosh and I watched as the guy in front of us struggled to coast down a small hill. Every time he tried to go foward, his car slid sideways, an the embankment.
"What are we gonna do, Yosh?" I moaned.
The roads contributed to half of my nervousness. My tank was almost out of gas. Also, I had only a vague idea of where I was, having started teaching at a new school this fall.
Route 352 was our usual route home. Within moments, cars cleared it. I gazed at the hill ahead of us. It was winding and white, like a scene from an ABC Family Christmas special, just before the entrance of a jingling wintry sleigh from the evergreens. There was no way we'd make it up.
We turned around. Major highways passed by on the right and left. Route 3. Route 202. I imagined the mess that awaited us, if we took either one. In our area, the word "highway" means "drive really fast, no matter what the weather conditions are."
Finally, I settled on a road that I knew, vaguely. It took an hour, but I got us out of the red belt. When Yoshi's wheels hit dry pavement, I threw my fist into the air and cheered. We were safe.
I got home and told my sister Moira about my adventure.
"Yoshi did so great," I said. "I'm so proud of him."
She looked at me like I was crazy. Moira, the girl who started the naming of our cars. Moira, who talks to her coffee in the morning. Moira, who at three years old, wrote a song called, "Jacket, You're Lost." She looked at me like I was crazy.
Okay. So I am a little crazy.
This is the thing. My parents taught me to take care of my shit. Throughout my childhood, they yelled at me for eating in the living room, writing with permanent marker too close to the good couch, putting my sneakered feet on the bed, etc. As a kid, I thought they were insane. Like Kevin Spacey in "American Beauty," I yelled back, "It's just a couch!"
But the way you treat your possessions is often an indicator of how you treat yourself. When I take care of Yoshi, I'm taking care of myself. When I talk to him, I'm talking to myself. I'm keeping myself company.
That's kind of a good thing. You never know when you might be stuck somewhere, left alone to fend for yourself. It's kind of inevitable, isn't it?