I can remember being a young child, looking at my mother’s old ugly brown Datsun and thinking,” Oh please lord, don’t let anyone see me in this thing!” It was not just the color or the age of this car that was such an embarrassment, though my mother had this car before I was born, and it was old then. Ok, let me see if I can give you a good picture of this car, even though I have done my best to block it out. I am sure that some of my memories may be a little over dramatic, as a child’s mind can often exaggerate the truth, but I assure you that the majority of my memories are very accurate. My older brother and I described this horrid car as being held together by duct tape and bubble gum when we were younger. To this day we cannot prove nor can we deny that statement. The seats of the Datsun had rips and tears that were obscured by ratty old blankets and sheets that we no longer used as bed coverings. There was a faint smell in the car of old cigarettes from when my dad smoked and smell seemed to stick to the interior of the car and any thing that touched it as well. Old blankets and sheets covering ripped seats, and smelly stale smoke was not nearly half the problems with this car. None of this compared to the things my mother would modify on the car to fix issues the car had. Though the Datsun was a huge embarrassment, by the time I was a teenager I had realized that the old beast of a car was all that my mother could afford at that time, and it got us from point A to point B safely.
. You always hear people say,” The car purrs like a kitten,” well this one growled, with the occasional tinging sound from the muffler. My mother was one of those people that did not like to ask for help, and would rather fix things on her own if possible. My mothers fix-it-herself projects would be an additional source of embarrassment for me, and would make the car look even worse than it did already. Though her ideas were creative and served a function, they were not always so practical when applied to a car. Never the less, the old Datsun seemed as if it would be a part of my life forever, as my mother kept it and continued to use the car even after she got a new vehicle. My greatest fear was that my mother would try to hand the Datsun down to me as my firs car in the future, and that would explain her keeping it around for so long. Weather over dramatized or not the old Datsun would be an embarrassment to me until my mom finally sold the car when I was fourteen years old.
Summer in this car was much more uncomfortable, not just because this car had no air conditioning but because I was usually hiding in the back of the car under a blanket to prevent anyone from seeing me in that shamble of a car. Oh, I almost forgot the most embarrassing part of all. As I mentioned earlier, the car had no air conditioning, and we all know the California summers can be quite hot at times. Of course my mother would quickly devise a plan to solve this heat problem. My mother’s solution to the lack of air conditioning was to take some huge rubber bands, and strap a small osculating fan to the dash of the car that plugged into the lighter outlet! I was so horrified when my mother showed me this bright idea of hers. I could hardly contain the tears welling up in my eyes, and the ever growing knot in my throat. I am sure that she could see the horror in my face, as she said to me with a disgusted look on her face,” Oh Kayla, stop being so dramatic, it is not that bad.” I was sure by her comments that she could not remember what it was like being a ten year old girl, to whom image is everything. That fan on the dash was a total image killer, no matter what your age is.
In winter and spring the rain would come and go, and when it came I knew I was in for a little more embarrassment. The car would die if we went through puddles. That meant everyone had to get out and push the car out of the water to get it going again. Every time something went wrong with this rambler of a car, I would think to myself,” Could this car get any worse?” Then I would think back to the fan on the dash and the blankets over the seats, and I knew that it defiantly could. I could never understand when I was a child, why none of the things that I viewed as so embarrassing never bothered my mother. I would think that any one that would have seen that old Datsun would have said, “What in the world is that!” I never thought that my mother may have had to deal with some embarrassment in her younger years, and it may have been worse than the embarrassment that I felt with the Datsun
It never occurred to me back then, that my mom was a struggling single mother of two children, and the Datsun was all that we could afford. My mother finally sold the Datsun when I was around fourteen years old, and trust me, I was so happy, I helped push start it so the new owner could drive it out of our drive way. I learned from the experience that sometimes in life you do what you have to do to get by, even if it is not exactly going to be a wonderful experience. Though I am glad that the Datsun is gone, I am glad to have the experience, as it did give me a lesson in humility, or humiliation, don’t know which to this day. I can look back on things now and laugh with my mother, and remember the tremendous efforts she went through to raise her children with what she had, but whether her efforts failed or not is another story all together.