By on August 26, 2013
The old matchmaker herself

The old matchmaker herself


It was a crisp fall evening; I was at the wheel of my 82 Chevy shortbox headed home on I-29 toward Omaha. I was recently graduated, freshly employed and deeply in love.

Slightly older, hard-working and smart, we met 14 months prior, just before my senior year of college when I was 28. That night ended innocently, but went until 6 AM. Cash-strapped, I paid for our next date with my electric bill (worth it). On our third date, Train’s “Meet Virginia” played on the car radio. Her oldest sister’s name.

“Why doesn’t someone write a song called Vicky?” She cheerfully asked.


This memory struck me now as I was returning from an official trip to Alabama. After a month being re-exposed to my roots and at the wheel on my steed, I was struck by divine country inspiration. Across the bench, I reached into the glovebox and found a pen. Alas I had no paper; so instead, I poured my heart onto the title envelope like a hapless teenager and wrote a song called “Vicky.”

As it often is with the vehicles that punctuate our existence, the truck was supposed to be temporary. My Samurai suddenly accelerated its oil evacuation to a quart a day. The heater fan had stopped, and road debris constantly struck me in the back of the head via rusted out wheel wells. The pickup was charity from a classmate.

it also had no exhaust, my neighbors hated me

it also had no exhaust, my neighbors hated me

The Chevy was a redneck’s dream; a Scottsdale with crank windows , no AC, Dana axles, and a three speed stick with granny gear. Under the hood rested a glorious 350 topped with a Carter 4 barrel feeding boom juice through a set of Dart heads. A huge cam provided a glorious song at 5,000 RPM through a set of cherry bombs and 2 ½ inch duals. It had powered a modified dirt track racer, but the chassis was sold to fund college. Despite the 330 horses, no one wanted the V8, so it ended up in this truck. That truck ended up in front of my tiny college house.

She crushed Mustang GTs with a SBC howl, then gave ‘em taillights. She could pass anything but a gas station.

Which brings us to the future Ms. Mental; the Scottsdale was equipped with minimum instrumentation, and the famous wheel gas gauge had a broken pointer. A “guess” gauge with 8 MPG in rural Nebraska resulted in quite a few times by the side of the road until my devoted gal arrived with a gas can. She started carrying one after I got the truck. On dates she was perfectly content to forgo the comfort of her AC and shoulder-belt equipped Saturn, slide to the middle and buckle in there.

Now on a deserted stretch of Iowa blacktop, I scribed the lyrics to “Vicky.” A talented friend wrote the music and recorded an instrumental version so I could practice during my commute. All I needed was the perfect opportunity.

The trucks gods smiled, few months later the same musician friend was tasked as the MC for my surprise birthday roast. After a night of brutal mockery that can only come from true friends, it was my turn.

For my rebuttal; I stood, pointed at the MC and he produced his guitar. During my performance, I took her by the hand, led her to the front of the room and produced flowers. The picture tells the story; the guys laughed, the girls cried. For the final verse of the only public performance of “Vicky,” I dropped to my knee and produced the ring.

Ha ha! Sucker! She's mine now.

Ha ha! Sucker! She’s mine now.

The truck passed quietly that summer, the SBC fell victim to Midwestern low-octane ethanol and the body was rotting from road salt.

Peter Egan once wrote that couples who date with bad cars last longer than ones who court in comfortable and reliable ones. I knew if she was willing to come rescue me on some farm road, she could probably handle other challenges; like me being gone for half our marriage, dumb car decisions and a permanent carpet stain near the garage.

And she has. October is our 12 year anniversary.

(If you live in the midwest and enjoy John Denver, catch my talented friend Chris Harman, his wife Dorothy and Dustin West with An Evening)

W. Christian Mental Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. He is a graduate of Panoz Racing School, loves cartoons and once exceeded the speed of sound. Married to the most patient woman in the world; he has three dogs, a Philosophy degree and a gift for making Derek and Jack wonder if English is actually his first language.



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9 Comments on “Bowties, Small Blocks and Good Women – A Love Story...”

  • avatar

    That was a really, REALLY good story, the perfect way to start a week that seems is gonna be incredibly tough…

    Congratulations on the success in your marriage, a good girl is hard to get!

  • avatar

    “…slide to the middle and buckle in there.”


    Great story, and congratulations. Damn you, overly protective/restrictive US Government regulations…dudes who DON’T drive pick-’em up trucks used to be able to get that kind of action, too.

  • avatar

    Goodness me, that’s a sweet, sweet story. Congratulations!

  • avatar

    Thank you Sir .

    When first I met my Sweet Lady , she rode in my various old rattle traps without complaint , even bought me ‘E’ rated tires for my old panel truck once , I knew she was a keeper and by golly , she is ! .

    She likes me to take her to Las Vegas occasionally , she gambles and I walk the various junkyards finding obscure car/truck/Moto parts I bring back to L.A. when we return .

    One spring she asked me to take her and three of our Foster boys , I did so in our old ’82 Mercedes with R-12 AC (SWEET ! 65° F the whole way!) but I grumbled because I had no room for the full set of European spec. Mercedes bumpers I’d found for $50 in Henderson .

    That August she asked me to take her again and suggested we take my 1976 GMC C2500 pickup , similar to your old rig , no AC , manual tranny etc. – I said no , we’d take the Mercedes again and she told me ” I thought maybe you’d find some more old bumpers and I don’t like it when you miss out on parts…” .

    No , I never plan to let her go any more than you do yours ~ happy 12 years and may many more be in your future ! .


  • avatar

    When I was dating I usually showed up on my first date in my old 83 CJ-7. Pretty crude, uncomfortable, but in decent shape. Most found it pretty cool.

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    All REAL Jeeps are cool.

    After the passing of the XJ Cherokee, about the only REAL Jeep nowadays is the Wrangler.

  • avatar

    “Peter Egan once wrote that couples who date with bad cars last longer than ones who court in comfortable and reliable ones.”

    A beater certainly weeds out the shallow ones.

  • avatar

    “Peter Egan once wrote that couples who date with bad cars last longer than ones who court in comfortable and reliable ones.”

    It must be true! My wife of 33 years went on our first date in my Gremlin. Had to be love.

  • avatar

    Wow, that was an amazing story, loved it!

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