The other day I went into the garage and found my son and two of his friends working to get the sunroof closed on his friend’s car. The friend was complaining that it was too cold to be driving down the road without a roof. I of course had to tell them my sunroof story, although I am not sure they were really in the mood to listen to an old lady reminisce. It was just too much for me not to be able to wax on about it, so I will do it here.
My first car was a used, four speed Ford Pinto. It was white, with an orange racing stripe, and orange vinyl interior. It had a sunroof of the old school variety, which means instead of pushing a button and having it electronically recede into the roof of the car, one had to unlatch it and either prop it open, or take it off completely and lay it in the back seat. Strangely enough, I actually loved this car. I cheerfully fielded the jokes about not getting rear-ended lest I blow up (the flaw that got this model discontinued), as well as the ones about the racing stripes needing to go the other way in the spirit of the rear-end exploding. Even to this day, I love to ride with an open sunroof, letting in the sun and air without blowing my hair into my face.
One very dark night my friend and I were driving down a highway somewhere south of Houston on the way to her brother’s house. It was warm and the friend asked to be able to prop open the sunroof. I said, “Sure! And if you want you can unlatch it and lay it in the back seat!” Keep in mind that we are going about 70 MPH and this thing was made of about a quarter inch thick glass. It was heavy. So when my friend tilted it up to bring it inside the car the wind caught it an plucked it from her fingertips sending it sailing away behind us. I stopped and backed the car up (we were the only car for miles on this remote piece of highway), thinking, I guess that I would be able to pick it up off the ground and put it back in the car. It was, of course shattered all over the road in tiny pieces, and I began to realize what a horrible tragedy would have occurred if we had not been on the road alone.
Well, since we were alone, and no harm was done to anyone, we continued on our way, laughing at our stupidity.
When I looked to replacing the glass, I learned that Pintos do not come with sunroofs (go figure!), that this one had been a custom addition. To replace it would cost more than the car was worth. It was decided that I would go to my parents’ home and Dad would help me buy a new car. Unfortunately, I had plans that kept me from going right away, but it was summer, so I didn’t suffer much from driving around with nothing but the plastic shade that fit on the inside of the hole. It kept the hot sun from beating down on me, but had slats that let the wind in. And I didn’t have to worry about it getting broken into or stolen, because even thieves knew better than to want a Pinto.
One of the things that kept me from going home was a trip I had planned to fly to South Carolina to visit friends. I was going to leave my topless car in someone’s garage while I was gone. I was driving to the drop off point, dressed for my flight, when I encountered a summer downpour. I had the plastic shade up, but while it slowed the rain, it didn’t keep it from pouring down my face in such a way that i could not see to drive. So, I grabbed my umbrella. And while having the umbrella up in the car kept the rain from rolling into my eyes, the thought of how I must look made me laugh so hard that I had to keep wiping the tears away. I got to my friend’s house quite wet, and no longer feeling the need to keep my car in a garage – too late for that! By the time I got on the airplane I was only damp, but I froze all the way to NC.
When I went home the next weekend to find a car, we were unsuccessful, but dad got some plywood and cut a piece to fit the hole. I didn’t care, much. I saw the humor, and obviously, I didn’t gain my sense of worth from what I happened to be driving. Until I drove it to a restaurant one day where I was meeting some people from work, one of which was a young doctor that I might have had a crush on. When said doctor walked me to my car and began to make jokes about it, I did begin to feel a little stupid. Oh well, he wasn’t really my type anyway.
Finally I managed to trade in my lovely Pinto for a whopping $500.00 and bought a replacement. It didn’t have a sunroof.
We have these moments.