La Vergüenza de Mi Primer Carrito: Viejo y Feo, Pero…

Okay, it wasn't nearly this bad... but it felt pretty close back then

“When the bell rings you better hurry up and make it to the car.  If you’re not there by the time I get there, I’m leaving you!”  That was the constant threat to my younger brother when we’d get to school in the mornings… that is when I wasn’t trying to get him to skip with me just to drive over to Burger King for a breakfast croissant.  I know, por eso estabamos como estabamos, but those little sandwiches of egg, melted cheese and ham were delicious.  My mouth still waters thinking about them.

I never actually had the nerve to leave him behind, however.

The bell would ring and we’d both race to the car like our lives literally depended on it.  We didn’t have time to talk to anyone, say goodbye, or take our time walking to our car like everyone else.  Whatever corner of the school we were in, we’d power walk, sometimes run, as fast as we could, which in reality was more like hobbling, with our jumbo-sized backpacks stuffed full of books – we were both a little nerdy even though neither one of us would have admitted it back then – and try to make it across the street from Eisenhower High School to the apartment complex next door where we’d park our car every morning before going to class.  They had an open parking lot that wasn’t gated and after so many months of our old beat up car being parked there the management probably just assumed it was one of the tenants.  It wasn’t, but it sure did make our lives a whole lot easier.

If we didn’t make it to the car in time, we’d stand against the railing of the nearest stairs, the ones leading to the upstairs apartments, throw our backpacks on the ground, behind the bushes on either side, and pretend we were just chilling, waiting for someone to come by, or just watching the school buses to pass by.  A few times we even waved into the air like someone in one of those yellow buses was actually acknowledging us, saying goodbye back.

Me:  “Laugh… pretend like you’re laughing!”

Him:  “For what?”

Me:  “Just do it… hurry up!”

The school buses had to pass directly in front of where our car was parked in order to exit the school campus and they were all tall enough to let their passengers, our schoolmates, peer directly over the six foot high wooden fence that shielded our vergüenza de carro from them, and the rest of the kids in their own one-solid-color-cars, when they weren’t riding so high above the ground.  What was worse was when we’d make it to the car, jump inside of it, and turn it on, just to see the first school bus driving by in front of us.  We couldn’t get out of the car and run to the stair railings anymore – there wasn’t enough time – so we’d just sink down into the seats as low as we possibly could and laugh our asses off.  All of the drama about the car was really an adrenaline rush.

The car itself was really quite the loyal little carcachita. My eldest sister had bought it for herself after high school and had fully paid it off before she gave it to me.  That’s right, gave it to me!  I didn’t pay her one single penny for the ride even though it was the first car she ever owned and I knew it was always going to be a little special to her.  The hood was a rusted dark blue, the driver’s side door an almost forest green color that looked faded and old, and the rest of the car was a creamy, very light green, almost like a lemon meringue tone that I had always admired… even when the car was not yet mine.  It was a Pontiac, four door sedan, that couldn’t have been younger than a 1991 model, but it got us where we needed to go and it left us both with so many cherished memories in that car.

I was so embarrassed and ashamed in those days that I never properly thanked my sister for the ride.  Thanks, Lola!  For letting me have your car and for giving me this story to tell. Maybe one day I can return the favor.

10 thoughts on “La Vergüenza de Mi Primer Carrito: Viejo y Feo, Pero…

  1. ah that was delightful…cool picture as well..made me smile…my first
    car was an old yellow VW beetle and i loved it with all my 18 year old
    heart…

  2. Love this story!!! I remember being taken to Burger King one morning with y’all. I was so worried about not being at school!! Lol, too funny.

  3. Very funny!!!
    Definitely, it builds character to have a car that nobody can steal because nobody but you can get it started 🙂
    or your friends have to be careful getting in or their foot might get stuck in that hole in the floor. Yeah I didn’t feel lucky at the time but I know it now!

  4. LOL, my first cars were all one color and I liked them well enough, but I recently got to experience owning a car that made me feel vergüenza.

    Carlos needed one just to get by for a few months and we had $1,000 to spend. That doesn’t buy much these days. Thank goodness we just recently got rid of it and got something else, but we did try to remind ourselves that despite how completely feo it was, we were lucky to have a car that ran, (when it ran, anyway.)

    As for before school breakfast adventures – my sisters and I had plenty of those too 🙂

    1. jajaja! You’re comments are cracking me up… Loved that line, Beth: “it builds character to have a car that nobody can steal because nobody but you can get it started 🙂
      or your friends have to be careful getting in or their foot might get stuck in that hole in the floor.” So true! We were building character without knowing it, lol!

      Tracy, on some days it feels like we’re still in high school when my pick up starts acting up! Irma, yeah, we made you come with us a few times. What a bunch of dorks we were!! Gracias, Claudia 🙂

  5. Juan, I was a junior in high school when my brother co-signed for my first car. It still means a lot to me that he trusted me enough to do that. It was a red hyndai excel hatchback (the same year of the Yugo). It literally “snapped” together like a Lego carro. My friends would crack up because the fixtures inside would pop-off whenever we hit a bump in the road. If I could go back, I would’ve bought something that didn’t require a payment. You were smart. Our breakfast morning run would be to either Del Taco or Jack in the Box … we’d sneak out of first period (HomeEc). Shhhh,

    1. Ezzy, that’s too funny! My brother bought his first car from a lot… one of those places that made him commit for like five years, and he took forever, like months, to pick the car he wanted… which would have been fine, except for the fact that when he finally settled on one and began to pay for it, the damn thing started falling apart… underneath the plastic of his bumpers was actually Styrofoam. Like the white stuff that comes in packaging, lol… we couldn’t believe it and didn’t know what else to do but laugh! Eventually he gave up the car because of this and got more in debt with another car that wasn’t made out of Styrofoam, jajaja! Thanks for the memory 🙂

  6. ¡Qué risa Juan! The picture you painted was hilarious!!! 😀
    Me los imaginé perfecto todos agachados o haciéndose los que la virgen les hablaba si veían a sus amigos pasar, jajajajaja!!!!
    And let me just say this: you guys had a car! I had nothing during HS or even Universidad! I depended on my friends´ nice cars, ugly cars or my own two feet to get to school, any of those was way better than Mom or Dad driving me! 😀

    1. Pues si, Sue… por eso no pude rechasar el carro que me regalo mi hermana, porq era el carro o seguir en el autobus… y con novia y toda la cosa ya me sentia demasiado grandecito para andar en el autobus… ademas cuando me tocaba ir con mi hermano mayor en si lowrider, siempre llevaba demasiada gente y apenas cabia yo… ya que estaba un poquito gordito, ja ja!

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