I first met Jack when I was sixteen and working as a carhop. He drove in one day in a purple Camaro. What a car! All curves and yummy lines. That purple car made me swoon.
“You like my wheels,” he said when I came to take his order.
“What about me?”
“The truth?” I chewed on my pencil. “I didn’t even see you. Just the car. My favorite color. My favorite size.”
“Your favorite flavor too?” He was flirty as hell.
“Funny. What do you want to eat?”
His eyebrows shot up. I just knew he was going to keep going with the trite comments: a little of what you’re having or just you honey or how about a little sugar? I clenched the order pad. I was in a mood to let him have it.
“Just a milkshake.” He thought a minute. “Vanilla.”
“Good choice.” I spun around to head back to the kitchen. I stole a look back at that car. “Camaro,” I said aloud. Dreamy.
After that, he’d come by about once a week. Sure, he asked me out. But the car was a stumbling block. It was hard to even see what his face was like when he was in it—the purple swooped me up every time. I only saw myself driving that car.
The next year I headed off to college. I forgot about Jack but sure didn’t lose the car. I asked my dad for one that first fall. “When you get a job, you can have one,” he said, handing me the keys to the Impala he’d bought for me second hand. It was wide-bodied and blue, not my type at all.
Five years later, I was behind the counter of the pharmacy in Crookston when a tall lanky guy with a ponytail came up to the till. “Janice. Janice Straight?”
“Yes,” I was cautious. Seeing a woman who worked with drugs acted like an aphrodisiac to some men.
“Jack. Jack Bergstrom. Purple Camaro. We went to high school together.”
“Not exactly. You were two years older.” I squinted and saw that color, brighter than eggplant. “Mr. Camaro!”
“Yeah.” He sounded a little down.
“Still have it?” I thought I might offer him a good price for it.
“Nuh-uh. Totaled it in college. Icy road, not my fault.”
I rang him up and handed him the bag. A month’s supply of Valium. He looked hopeful as I handed him his change. Thing was, if you don’t stand out as much as your car, what kind of a man does that make you?