Racer

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By: 
Michelle Phillips

My best friend Heather and I, who is more like a sister to me (her kids call us aunt and uncle), have been cooking up a plan for the last couple of months. Back in May, my niece, Keyla, called me to ask me if Matt and I would sell her my Miata. She has been taking driver’s ed this summer and gets a school permit in August. 

At the time I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with the car. It is nearly 20 years old, and I have driven it for more than 10 of those years. I was concerned about how we would come to a price. Insurance is higher on a sports car, and Keya doesn’t know how to drive a stick. These were all of my arguments. 

Keyla is very responsible for an adult, let alone a teenager, but all of these things were concerns for all the actual adults, not just me. Heather and I spent many nights on the phone talking about whether she should have a car that my whole family calls “the Racer.”

Matt and I discussed this many times, and even argued about it a little, but in the end we all came to an agreement that she would get the car for a nominal amount, and I would drive my mother-in-law’s old car. Then in a couple of years, when her brother, Cael, gets a permit, we will sell him that car. During these negotiations, I reminded him that Keyla will likely choose our elderly housing. 

Though we both agreed that we should not just give her the car because we don’t want her to have a sense of entitlement, we wanted to sell it to her cheap. I would much rather she spend her saving when she is in college and needs it than on her first car.

Heather and I also decided that I would be the one to tell her that we were selling her the car. I called her last week, fearing that she had been tipped off by all the conversations Heather and I had had in the last eight-ish weeks. 

We chat for a minute and catch up, and she says, “What’s up, aunt Michelle.”

I replied, “Uncle Matt and I have decided to sell you the Miata.”

She screamed so loud, more than once, that I was sure I would never hear properly again. My status was elevated from the “best aunt, ever” to the “super, greatest aunt, ever.” 

She was really appreciative and aside from the super, greatest aunt, ever comment, thanked me repeatedly. I will be the first to admit that I have always spoiled her, and she and I are a lot alike. We bonded when she was in the womb, though, when I would talk to her and sing Grateful Dead songs with my face inches from Heather’s bludgeoning belly and she would, in turn, kick Heather. 

Heather and I coordinated a time for them to come pick up the car. As it turns out, Keyla’s church youth group will be on their way home from a trip to the Dells a couple of days before we planned the pickup.  That means we get two whole days to hang out before Heather gets here. Now I need to figure out how to entertain a 15-year-old for two days.

I have decided to take part of that time to teach Keyla how to drive stick. Fortunately, I live in a secluded neighborhood, so there are some great places to kill the engine, roll backward and become flustered over learning the whole gas/clutch thing.

I remember learning, myself, like it was yesterday. My mom yelling at me to “give it more gas,” as I incrementally rolled backward into a ditch, and the neighbor had to pull me out with his tractor. Then her exclaiming to my stepdad that “you can teach her to drive.” In hindsight, that was best for everyone. 

Matt and I are happy that we can share in this milestone with Keyla. Driving really is a coming of age step for teens. Now let’s hope the Racer can live up to her expectations. 

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