What’s in a name?

I name my cars. I never set out to do this. It just sort of happened after I got my first car, a turquoise Saturn coupe that was just screaming to be named Buffy (and this was years before the TV show, thank you very much). I loved that car. The odometer conked out somewhere around 87,000 miles, and sometimes the air would stop working—NOT funny in South Florida in August—but I loved her all the same. I drove her until she died—literally—on a crowded stretch of road while my sister and I were heading to the mall to do some Christmas shopping.

RIP Buffy.

I bought my next car straight out of law school. I had no job and  six figures worth of student loan debt staring me in the face, but I fell in love with a white Mazda and signed on the dotted line. Because even though I am very Type-A, I’m also ridiculously impulsive. I named that car Lucius. You can laugh, it’s cool. It was that or a black car I would have named Sirius. Yeah, I know.

A few years later, after I’d found a job working as a lawyer, then another job working as a lawyer, I decided it was time for an upgrade. I bought myself a little black Mercedes.

Story time! My paternal grandmother is one of the strongest, most amazing people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. Her husband walked out on her a few years into their marriage, leaving her with a house to run and four kids to raise. But she didn’t sit around wallowing in self-pity. She went back and got a master’s degree. She raised all four of her kids and sent them to college. And then she travelled. She studied at Oxford for a while, and she eventually earned a Ph.D. And in 1977, she bought herself the Mercedes she’d always wanted. If you went to her house, there were books about the history of Mercedes on her coffee table. She bought stock in the company. And when she died in 2003, that car was still in her driveway. My grandmother’s name was Ellen, and so when I bought my own little Mercedes, I started calling her Elle as a tribute, and the name stuck.

I cried when I traded Elle in a couple months ago. I loved that car. We brought my daughter home from the hospital in that car. Such good memories.

Now I’m driving the SUV that my husband used to drive. (My husband never named his cars, but I insisted he did with his new one.  He called it Jon Snow. Because he’s awesome). But the SUV is still nameless. And it’s bothering me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the car. How nice it is to be able to fit a stroller AND groceries in the back for once! But there aren’t any names jumping out at me. I called it Pluto for a week because the color of the car is technically “space gray” so I figured I should go with something fitting, and since Pluto was downgraded as a planet perhaps I should elevate it to the name of my car. Except no. I couldn’t stop thinking about this guy.

I’m now rethinking the space theme, seeing as how J.K. Rowling has cornered the name of just about every star out there and I can’t think of anything else space-y, so for now the car is back to being nameless. I guess I’ll wait for inspiration to strike … eventually …

What about you? Do you name your cars? If so, what have you called them?

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8 Responses

  1. Holly says:

    Yep, I’ve always named my cars. I get it from my dad, I think. He always named his trucks when I was growing up. My car, which I just got a couple months ago, the kiddo has dubbed the “Flying Car”. You know, the ford anglia. lol I call her Delilah though.

  2. Meredith says:

    The Flying Car! Love it! Kiddo sounds like a lot of fun. 🙂

  3. Trisha says:

    Love your car names. hehe

    I tend to name my cars things like… Punkin… one of them had a VERY nasty name after it broke down. I won’t repeat it here, it’s too naughty.

  4. Jill says:

    Great post, Mer. You really tapped into my head with this one, because I name EVERYTHING. And I truly think that when anything is named, it becomes more valuable, and emotional in turn. My current car is called Dax. All my cars (so far) have been boys. Weird, right? 🙂

  5. Karen Strong says:

    See, people think I’m crazy when I talk call my cars by their “names.” My mustang convertible is “Julian.” He’s been real good to me for the last 6 years.

  6. LOL! I bet it’s easier to name your characters than it is to name your cars! I never really did that for mine unless “piece of junk” counts?

  7. Shel Delisle says:

    Really loved this post, Mer!

    My first car had AC that came and went (mostly went), but I’ve never named a car. Still, I was trying to think of one for you. Grey + Large (SUV)= elephant = Horton?

  8. Kerry O'Malley Cerra says:

    Great post and it got me thinking. I have only named one car. Ever! Weird, right? My Mitsubishi in college was named Bessie.

    Story time. In HS, I was in youth group. We did a skit once with a cow who was named Bessie. Can’t remember the storyline or reason for the skit, but I remember the line that was repeated over and over, “Come on Bessie give! The baby’s gotta live.” Double weird, right? But all that coaxing the cow to give milk so the baby could live kept coming to mind each time I got in my piece of junk car and had to coax it to start so I could get to class. She was a needy car.

    Haven’t named a car since. But, maybe I will. Love this!

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