The make: Mercury- messenger of the Gods. The model: Sable- a large African antelope known for its swiftness, courage and long curved horns.
The make: Mercury- a highly toxic metallic element. The model: Sable- a weasel like mammal found in Russia.
Take your pick on the definition Ford used to name this line of vehicles.
At times our 1991 Mercury Sable could act like it was on Godly errands, other times air inside could become toxic causing me to sneeze uncontrollably and it’s paint shed like weasel fur in spring.
Regardless of the name, it’s now gone. Actually put down last November after a bout of smoke, fluid ruptures and general sluggishness, like in- not moving.
We reminisced a little as we stared at the hulking reddish chunk of metal parked on the street, lime colored fluid puddled beneath. I don’t know why we sometimes treat cars like they have life. Maybe we feel the vehicle is the body and we become the spirit element that makes it move. Or, since horses were our main form of transportation a hundred years ago we’ve genetically transferred our compassionate care and love to our cars.
We never officially christened it but I did call it a few names over the years. Now as I thought about how the car was about to be returned to its fundamental elements I felt guilty.
We remembered how excited we were to get this car, purchased from an older couple who kept it shiny in the garage. We packed two adults and 4 kids into it and crammed boxes, suit cases and shoes into the trunk on vacations to Utah, Las Vegas, Portland, the Bay area and Disneyland. How we all fit I don’t know but everyone seemed to get along. This car was steps ahead of our previous Dodge products where miles per gallon were replaced with parts lost per mile. The Sable was very comfortable and had a smooth ride. It was my first car with cruise control. Over the years it hauled papers, kids back and forth to soccer practices, rehearsals, school, and church activities. Our children learned how to drive behind the Sable’s wheel.
My most memorable moment was when our family was stranded overnight in Fallon Nevada after the water pump ruptured. It’s seen its share of hauls from tow trucks and mechanics probing and wrenches. As the years passed the cloth covering the roof inside rotted and shred. It would hang from the ceiling like a curtain until we bolstered it up with duct tape and pins. The once shiny Ming finish wore off and began to peel. Everyone around town recognized our leprous car. People buy cars so they’ll get noticed. But new cars all look alike; it’s not until they begin to rust and dent that we can identify one car from another of the same model. Character marks we’d call them. They were really age spots.
We watched out our front window as the tow truck hauled the Sable up the street one last time. As it turned left onto North Phoenix Road we waved remorsefully, sighed then turned away. The car was twenty years old with 180,000 miles. It was going to the scrap heap, where old cars go to die.
A few hours later we hopped into our little Corolla for a shopping excursion. As we came to make our turn onto N. Phoenix we noticed something metallic in the middle of the street. Thinking it might be something that could damage tires Jan got out and retrieved it. She smiled as she held up the object. It was the front license plate that had fallen off the Sable. The old car had left us one more memory. Either that or else it was leaving bits and pieces along the road Hansel and Gretel bread crumb style hoping we’d follow and rescue it from its impending demise.
We never had room in the garage to park the Sable in there. Now at least the license plate can stay warm and covered from the elements until we move, the house burns down or we die.