My first husband, Matt, drove a 1973 Dodge Dart. Nothing special. Not an antique, just old, something he could afford. The car was baby blue, the color of the helpful, wide-eyed elves in the cartoon show The Smurfs. The profile was not elfin. The car was close to the ground, but it had a long, broad, searching nose; a short windshield rising like hair greased back from a low forehead; and in the rear, fins, not exactly sharky like the cars of earlier decades, but pronounced. The car bore down on the road, steady, grim, and determined. You could hear it coming a block away; it groaned and squeaked over the pavement as if movement was a duty.

There were certain things about the car. The passenger door didn’t close well. You had to slam it really hard, or it would come open when you turned a corner. We called it the danger door. “Watch out for the danger door!” The timing had to be tinkered with regularly, or the car would die at every stop. Matt taught me how to crank it up by turning a wing nut next to the engine. I didn’t know what a wing nut was, and he had to show me. “See? Little wings,” his hand on my shoulder as we bent under the hood.

People on couch
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