So Long, Volley

It’s sad to see you meet the end of your road
Steve Bornhoft Portraits 2022 11 Cc
Photo by Michael Booini / RPI File Photo

Today will bring the end of an automotive era.

We will be trading my wife’s year 2000 model Honda Accord in for a spanking new Civic. At 22, the Accord was within eight years of officially qualifying as a relic. I had begun to picture it in one of those Carolina blue Florida ANTIQUE tags, but that will never be.

It’s time.

The Accord’s headlight lenses have turned opaque, like an old person with eyes clouded by cataracts. Its paint job has failed. Over recent years, we have replaced its tires one at a time, choosing, like a skinflint of a golfer, not to invest in a matched set. It’s been years since paradise was seen by its dashboard light, which has not worked for I don’t know how long. (RIP, Meat Loaf.)

There is a trick to getting the windshield wipers to come on, and when you do finally succeed in activating them, turning them back off is even more difficult. Long ago, the power windows ceased working, the gears that drive them having grown toothless with age. We chose to get one of them, on the driver’s side, fixed. When I last went to get the Accord’s oil changed, the man in the pit shouted to the topside attendant, “Multiple leaks,” as if they were too numerous to precisely count.

I have friends ’round here who refer to certain high-mileage vehicles as “grocery gitters” or “young’un toters” or “fishin’ cars.” The Accord’s chief duty has been to carry my wife to and from tennis matches. On countless occasions, Margot, following third-set tiebreakers, has dropped herself, pouring sweat, into the driver’s seat. We have learned that perspiration has a corrosive effect on leather; there is no seat where once there was one.

We have always driven cars to exhaustion. This approach departs radically from that taken by a couple of my co-workers who are seen always to drive immaculate, leased BMWs. Their fastidiousness about their rides is beyond Felix Unger of The Odd Couple. They go through Armor All like Bubba goes through beer. I once toted one of those Beemer folks from the Emerald Coast to Tallahassee in a Ford Explorer whose transmission had begun to slip before I finally offloaded it. Along about Clarksville, the Beemer’s face had turned ashen. You know, I would go to pass a pulp truck on State 20, and the Explorer would fumble around for a bit before finding the next speed. Some folks find that unsettling.

The Accord was young when it was T-boned by a spring breaker who attempted to hang an ill-advised Louie out of a McDonald’s while (presumably) drunk. The breaker never stopped, but Margot turned around quickly enough to get his tag number, which we reported to police to no effect, but reported to our insurance company with great effect. Our insurer got in touch with the insurer of the breaker’s daddy’s car, and I am prepared to believe that sonny boy was placed on restriction until he might achieve financial independence.

Later in life, the Accord sustained a dent of unknown origin in its rear quarter panel on the passenger side. One of Margot’s tennis buddies suggested that our son, Nick, who has the body of a contortionist, climb into the trunk and push the dent out with his size 12s. We never bothered.

I had never named the Accord until today. I am calling it Volley, a tennis term that sounds like it could be a name for an all-electric compact, suggesting as it does the word, volt.

Volley, for these two decades plus, it’s been good to know you. We will not soon forget you. The oil you have dropped on our driveway has made for a Rorschach inkblot test that will be slow to fade.

Drive carefully,

Steve Bornhoft,
Executive Editor

Categories: Editor’s Letter