I’ll tell you how long. When I first got Danny, the girl in the passenger seat was Katie.
Yes, that Katie. 14 years and 205,495 miles ago, she was the third or fourth passenger ever in my new 1993 Saturn SC 2. Dad was first, of course, driving home from the dealership. Who was second? My grandfather, who was still a regular Tuesday-night dinner guest (and who had over 10 years left to live). I was at BSC. I hadn’t even started applying to grad school yet – hell, I didn’t even have a summer job lined up yet.
Danny was named for three basketball players – Majerle and Ainge of the Phoenix Suns and Servick of the Panthers, all of whom combined quick movement with tenacious defense. The aquamarine coupe only had a 4-cylinder engine, but produced 80% of the power that my much-heavier Monte Carlo’s 305-ci V8 did – and with considerably more torque. It was compact, zippy, and got easily twice the mileage of my old ride with MUCH less smoke pouring out the back. It was new, it was fresh, and it was reliable, just asking to be pushed.
So I pushed it.
Danny has been parked by the beach in Pensacola, in a back alley off Bourbon Street and by Fenway Park in Boston. It’s been pulled over on a snowy stretch of the Ohio Turnpike and on the side streets of Arlington, Virginia. It’s taken me through the dark woods in New England, over the George Washington Bridge in New York City, through the suburbs of Chicago, across the Cumberland Gap. It’s carried me through overnight darkness in Kentucky, tornadoes in Kansas, and rush-hour traffic on the San Francisco Bay Bridge. It took me to Vanderbilt, it took me to Washington DC, and eventually, it took me to California. The same car that drove me to Piggly Wiggly in the pre-dawn hours in Warrior, Alabama, drove me back and forth to my office in Silicon Valley.
I’ve eaten Milo’s fries and In N Out burgers in this car. I’ve had Swensen’s drive-thru in Akron, OH, Varsity hot dogs in Atlanta, GA, and Dairy Queen on the outskirts of St. Louis, MO. I’ve bought fudge on the north fork of Long Island, a service plaza on the Indiana Toll Road, and a Stuckey’s in Wyoming. I’ve spilled coffee from Bongo Java in Nashville and Clocktower in Mountain View. It’s played mix tapes, iPods and satellite radio. I’ve sprayed off sand and scraped off snow. I’ve gotten out and walked on the beach on both coasts.
It carried my dad. It carried my wife.
I broke down last fall and picked up a new car, a gray VW Rabbit. It does just fine, for what it does, but it doesn’t feel the same. In less than a week, Danny will be towed off, a donation to the Arthritis Foundation in honor of its first passenger. It leaves behind memories enough for several lifetimes.