Don’t kid yourself: size is important – especially to a little Canadian boy growing up in England.
I was a stranger in that foreign land, one little Canuck in an enormous sea of Brits. I did my best to fit in. I wore the school uniform proudly. I quoth the school motto – Munus Prae Jure – as proudly and as loudly as all the other children. I played football (aka, soccer) and cheered on Billy Bremner and Leeds United, who were a force at the time. I rode the Underground, sat in cars that ran on the wrong side of the road, and even started to develop a certain British guttural.
But when I got home from school each day I was Canadian, through and through. From the Maple Leaf on my wall, to the books I read, to the radio I listened to, I was a Canadian boy in a foreign land, displaced, and anxious to get home.
Home, however, was many miles and several years away. For the time being I had to satisfy myself with weekly escapes to America, through such classic cultural outlets as the Armed Forces Radio from Wiesbaden, and Starsky and Hutch and The Rockford Files on ITV. From such classic entertainments I derived my passion for big cars and I averred, as an urchin bemoaning the claustrophobic smallness of my surroundings, that some day I would own a big car.
Enter “Babs”. Babs is my 1967 Buick Electra 225, 4-door hardtop. Babs is my big car, and believe me, at 225 inches in length she is definitely the fruition of that childhood desire.
Babs is a car in much the same way as I am a human being of the male gender: it is what it is. But she is much more than that, too. For every time I take her for a ride around the city where I live, or into the nearby mountains, I am reminded happily of some of the fonder elements of my childhood. And every time a passing motorist smiles and gives me the ‘thumbs-up’ I derive a certain vicarious satisfaction and pleasure from the childhood determination which ultimately brought Babs to me.
Truly, Babs helps resolve some of the residual angst of a small boy in a foreign land. She makes me feel good about myself – as I always knew she would.