Thirteen years ago this summer, I made a new best friend. Byng the Bug is my little green 1998 Volkswagen Beetle and I love him so much, I can hardly describe it.
When the 'new beetles' were first introduced, I fell for them hard and fast, but I didn't think I would be able to get one right away. I was a recent grad with huge student loans, single, living in the big city on a young journalist's salary, a taste for dinners out and a shoe habit. My boyfriend at the time even bought me a glow-in-the-dark beetle from a toy store and used a sharpie to put a VW symbol on its back, saying it was the only bug I'd ever own. Well, if that wasn't an incentive to get my financial act together, what would be?
Two years later, at Weir's of Collingwood, Byng and I made our acquaintance and we've been together ever since. He and I took a trip to the east coast almost right away and we've been back and forth from Toronto more times than I can count. He has taken me to Provincetown and the Florida Keys, New Hampshire and Michigan. He's heard me weep and rail over broken hearts and bruised friendships and has carried me through snow and rain and hail in style for more than a decade.
This weekend, though, was nearly the end for us.
On the way to my annual Girls' Cottage Weekend, a light I had never seen before lit up on the dashboard, and the steering wheel suddenly seemed very tough to turn.
I made it to the cottage with a bit of worry at the back of my mind, but since Sweetie was also out of town, I decided there wasn't much that could be done about the situation, and I would just wait to see what would be.
Pulling out from the cottage on Sunday afternoon, the stiffness was still in the steering wheel, and that odd light was still on, but I made it down the 400 without too many worries, all the way to Penetanguishene Road. That's when the fan cut out, and the radio suddenly quit, but came back on again after a few seconds. When the speedometer started doing wonky things and the airbag light came on, I started to think that I was actually in really, really big trouble.
I sent a text to my sweetie asking where he was, and then sent another saying my car was acting funny. Just as I hit 'send' on the second note, Byng started not to respond to the gas pedal. I only barely managed to steer to the side of Horseshoe Valley Road and park before he just... quit. The windows were down, there wasn't even a click when I turned the key. The clock was still working, but that was it. My journey had ended for the day.
Happily, my mobile was charged enough to allow a flurry of texts and phone calls, and within two hours, Byng was parked at a garage in Collingwood courtesy of the CAA.
By five o'clock Monday, 25 hours after what I thought was a death rattle, I was driving my sweet little rusted ride home again, good as not-new.
I'm thrilled because I've been saving up for a new car and I don't quite have all the money I need just yet, (yes, Dad, I should have started saving as soon as I finished paying for Byng, I know....) but I'm also a little disappointed. I saw quite a few cool looking Minis for sale online in my desperation yesterday. I hope Byng doesn't find out I was contemplating cheating on him.
Thank you to Import Auto in Collingwood for prompt, friendly and reasonably-priced repairs, and to Fraser at B&B towing for being such a fun guy on a horribly hot day. Also to Sweetie for his roadside rescue and ride home.