My parents gave me my first car, in my family’s usual style. For my birthday that year, mom and dad handed me a wrapped present, about the size of a shoebox. I unwrapped it to discover the expected shoebox, took off the top — and found a stuffed bunny with its eyes X-ed out with yarn.
A little confused, I raised my eyebrows. “A dead bunny?”
“Close. A dead rabbit.” And dad handed me the keys to his 1981 VW Diesel Rabbit, currently parked out on the street awaiting brake repairs.
I loved that car. I’d learned to drive in my friend Rod’s VW Cabriolet — basically a convertible Rabbit — so I was quite comfortable behind the wheel of that little car. Bright yellow, five-speed manual transmission, a sunroof — and diesel powered, which at that point, was truly a beautiful thing. No emissions tests to worry about, no spark plugs to struggle with, and gasoline was under a dollar a gallon back then.
Now, being a diesel, speed was not high on the list of features on this car. I think the best I ever managed to coax it was around 85 mph, heading downhill (the big run down into Eagle River from Anchorage, just before you cross over the bridge, for all you Anchorage-area readers) with a tailwind. Realistically, this was probably a good thing, as I really enjoy driving, and if there’s a good song on the stereo…well, having a fairly low top speed probably saved me a few tickets over the years. ;)
However, as fun as high speed can be, it’s often no real contest against someone who knows how to drive and how to handle their car in various road conditions.
One winter day, I was sitting at a stoplight in Anchorage, heading down Northern Lights Boulevard towards the airport, when a guy and his girlfriend pulled up beside me in some fancy little go-faster. I looked over, and apparently he took my glance as a challenge, as he looked somewhat disdainfully at my little Rabbit, and lightly gunned his engine.
Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.
So I gunned mine. He revved his engine up, and I did the same. After a moment, the light changed, he stomped on the gas — and went absolutely nowhere as his tires spun wildly on the icy street. Meanwhile, I lightly touched the gas and pulled forward, handily making it through the light before he had even managed to coax his little sports car into movement.
He caught up just in time for us to hit the next stoplight, and he started revving his engine again. I laughed — once wasn’t enough?
Apparently not. My little Rabbit beat him off the line three stoplights in a row. He was getting more aggravated with each attempt, and I was getting more and more amused.
Eventually, we made it to the intersection of Northern Lights and Minnesota. This being a more major intersection in Anchorage, the streets weren’t quite as icy, and by now he’d actually started to figure out what he was doing wrong. We sat at the intersection, watching traffic move by in front of us, each of us occasionally glancing over to the other car.
The crosswalk light switched from “WALK” and started blinking “DON’T WALK”. Engines revved up a bit.
“DON’T WALK” turned solid, and the traffic light on Minnesota went yellow.
Red light. Engines were gunned — this was it.
He pulled out, this time keeping control and starting slowly, letting his tires gain traction. I did the same, pacing him for the first half block, then starting to fall behind as his more powerful car started to gain speed. At the end of the first block, as he started to pull noticeably ahead of me, we hit the crest of a hill — and while he let his car leap forward, using the downhill slope to give him one last advantage, I tapped my breaks, let myself fall behind him, and watched his car go flying down the hill.
And a few minutes later, I gave him a jaunty wave as I passed by him one last time. I must say, those pretty little white sports cars do reflect the red-and-blue lights of the police cruisers quite nicely as they sit by the side of the road, waiting for the officer to write out their speeding ticket.
(This was inspired by The wrath of the Evil Elle\~Noir.)