Don’t you wanna know what I got underneath my hood?
I know she might sound like she’s missing
But buddy, she could teach you a lesson
In just a quarter mile, and I'll smoke you good.
— Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, “455 Rocket,” as recorded by Kathy Mattea
I’m absolutely ambivalent about social media. I have to use it for work. I enjoy the frequent, even nightly, interaction with family members and friends. I laugh, I cry, I’m amazed or puzzled about postings and comments they trigger.Sometimes social media drives me crazy. What a time-waster! But every once in a while something magical happens.
I had clicked on the Facebook “You Know You Grew Up in Cambria if ….” group. Christine Quinn had asked if anybody knew a local Mason who had lost the well-worn ring she’d found in the Cookie Crock parking lot.
I had some suggestions, and during our back-and-forth e-conversation, Christine taught me about the “other” link. It’s a way to connect with people who hadn’t yet made it to “friend” status on my home page.
Once I found “other,” of course, I had to click on it. Reporters are curious creatures. It’s in our DNA.
One message was from a woman who worked with us at the bakery about two decades ago, and we hadn’t heard from her since then.
The second message was even more astonishing.
It said: “Good morning here from Denmark. A wonderful red MGB is now temporarily parked in my father’s garage in Jutland, and I think it has belonged to you.
“I thought you would like to know that your English sports car is back in Europe. My husband and I are very curious to hear about your life with ‘her.’ If you would like to share any information, we would be very grateful … For now have a wonderful day. Many kind and happy regards from Dorthea.”
I replied quickly, enthusiastically, saying in part, “How marvelous to hear from you and know that she's being loved and cared about!!! We had the MG for a long time, and adored her … I drove it daily for many years. We even took MG trips. … Please let us know how and when you got her, and keep us posted on your MG adventures!”
If it seems strange that a woman would get so excited to learn about her former car, you need to get real! We gals can bond with our wheels as intensely and passionately as any man can.
I’m lucky enough to have had several beloved cars in my lifetime:
• My first, a Nash Rambler birthday gift that my dad fixed up and my mom reupholstered.
• A red TR3 I bought when I was barely out of high school.
• A sporty Ford convertible in my 20s.
• A silver Mercury Capri in my 30s (so well-loved, our two youngest sons each wound up driving their own Capri cars).
• And, in my 40s, the 1971 MGB, complete with chrome bumpers. She started out as a very British pumpkin color.
All were special, beautiful cars with attitude, sisters under the hood to the “Hot Rocket 455” immortalized in Kathy Mattea’s song. But until now, I never knew what had happened to any of them after I sold them.
We’d bought the MG from Kelly Bush, another bakery employee (and now a Facebook friend!). To say the car needed work would be polite (it had gotten way too close to a tree). But one by one, we had the car’s problems fixed, had it painted a gorgeous British red, and our English beauty became my daily companion.
She was a marvelous car. The old saw about British sports cars — “drive ’em one weekend, fix ’em the next” didn’t hold true for her.
Looking back on all my much-loved vehicles, I realized what a gift Dorthea and Facebook had given me. Each time I sold one of those cars, I lost a bit of my history and myself.
And in each case up until now, as soon as I signed the pink slip, that particular slice of my life vanished forever, preserved only in photos and my own memory.
It was like losing track of a favorite relative. It hurt.
Now, thanks to the cyber magic of the Internet, I know where my little red Brit is. It’s wonderful knowing she’s loved again.
What a treat! Thanks, Dorthea, and happy trails! Please keep in touch. I’ll be watching my “Other” box!
Kathe Tanner is a reporter for The Cambrian and The Tribune. Her "Slice of Life" column appears biweekly. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @cambriareporter.