My wife has a 2003 Chevy Cavalier that her parents gave her, so now, I have a 2003 Chevy Cavalier, too. On our first date, I got my first glimpse of it: cobalt blue with its fading and cracked University of Georgia super G plastered to its rear window. I thought then that she needed a new car, and that was four years ago.
The amazing thing is, aside from some cosmetic damage, there is nothing wrong with the car. Sure, it sounds like a broken hairdryer, the driver's sun visor gave up and is now lying on the passenger side floor, and the dash has a fist-sized hole in it from where a shady Jersey City mechanic did a curbside speedometer repair -- but there's something endearing about the Blue Bastard. Maybe it's the memory of my wife -- then my girlfriend -- pulling up to my Montclair apartment listening to the first mix tape I made her.
Now that I'm her husband, I feel like it has fallen to me to do husbandly things, like keep the damn thing running. This is no hardship. I enjoy working on cars, though I'm only slightly north of inept when it comes to auto repair. The Blue Bastard has had its way with me. Twice.
There's a keloid across the back of my right hand from the passenger side brake caliper. One of the bolts holding it in place would not budge. With all of my weight bearing down on the allen wrench, it popped out of its socket, and the back of my hand scraped across the caliper, taking a good chunk of flesh with it.
Most recently, the oil drain plug got the better of me. Since I began doing basic car maintenance, I've only owned Japanese vehicles. Working on an American car, I assumed the drain plug would be a standard size. Wrong. I stripped the 13 mm bolt down to about 12 mm before giving up and realizing the error of my ways hours later. Forty dollars later for a set of bolt extractors and a new drain plug, the lesson has been learned. (Never use a crescent wrench for anything on an automobile. And never assume anything, no matter how logical.)
By its very definition, maintaining my wife's Chevy Cavalier is a labor of love. It gives me great satisfaction to do these small things, personally, to keep her moving and keep her safe. And I appreciate her patience when I say I'm going to attempt a repair, and the job comes in late and over budget.
Eventually, the Blue Bastard will give up the ghost. My wife will get the hybrid she wants and my Chevy maintenance days will be over. Though I will be released from my Cavalier custodial duties, I will relinquish them with a heavy heart.
Plus, there's no way I'll be getting near the inner workings of any hybrid. Electricity terrifies me.