Biff America: I now pronounce you car and wife
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Donna Sweet got pregnant three times due to a 1964 Chevy Impala.
To be clear, she didn’t get pregnant IN a Chevy Impala. She got pregnant because of an Impala.
I know this to be true because she told me; and she, better than anyone, should know.
Donnas’ three children are now adults. The Impala and the guy who owned it are long gone.
Donna and I have become reacquainted via e-mail. She contacted me out of the blue last winter.
She grew up about 20 miles away from me. Our fathers worked together. Donna was a few years older, 10 years more sophisticated, and I had a huge crush on her. I think she married when I was a senior in high school to a guy named Paul Sweet who I met only a couple of times.
My dad retired, her dad died and my family lost touch with hers.
I knew she was long divorced, never remarried and had done well for herself selling real estate around Boston.
I haven’t been back to my old hometown in 10 years ” since I lost both my parents ” and have heard nothing about Donna in at least that long. But last March I got a short letter from her. She had stumbled onto a column of mine in a magazine back east, which had my e-mail address.
We caught each other up on our few mutual friends and our families. Being that I type at the speed of a glacier, I tend to keep my e-mails short. Typically, she would write a fairly long message. I’d write back making a few observations, ask some questions and peck out a paragraph about myself and situation. She would usually respond with a beautifully written, well thought out, communique telling me about her life, work and children. I think for her, the distance between us was conducive to candor because she seemed to enjoy writing with frankness.
What I took away from her letters was: She was successful, content, fulfilled with her work and hobbies and was not looking to remarry. She mentioned friends, mostly women, a passion for sailing and her love of her three children ” all whom have graduated from college and are successful themselves. She said she was well aware of my youthful infatuation and admitted that, at the time, she thought I was “cute in a dorky kid with acne and a speech impediment sort of way.”
I got the impression ” not sure how ” that she might no longer be interested in men, but I never asked.
I did ask her how long she had been divorced and if the process was painful. She told me she had been single for more than 25 years. “Aside from my kids, I often forget that I was ever married,” she added. “If I’m honest with myself, the only reason I ended up with Paul was because of that damn car.”
She went on to explain that when she was in high school Paul was one of the first kids to have his own vehicle. Donna admitted that Paul Sweet was dashing, a few years older and good looking. “But what first got my attention was that 1964 Chevy Impala,” she said. “While the other girls were going to cheerleader practice after school Paul and I would drive to Cape Cod or New Hampshire, have a cup of coffee and turn around and drive home; my parents wouldn’t let me be out late on a school night.”
Donna went on to explain that of course she grew to love Paul Sweet, but what first caught her eye was that convertible. She explained that she married on her 21st birthday; continued to attend Jr. College and didn’t get pregnant until she had graduated.
“I was young sheltered, and wanted to have a life of my own. Paul wasn’t a bad person but I had already given birth to three kids before I realized we had little in common.”
After her divorce Donna had a few bad years. Child support and alimony barely paid her bills and she was lonely.
Donna wrote: “During those tough years, when I’d looked back on my life, the happiest moments ” aside from the birth of my children “was driving back from the Cape with the top down.” She added, “How pathetic is that?”
Since then Donna has done well. A secretary job at a real estate office led to an associate position, which led to a broker’s license which has turned into a 40-foot sail boat. “I’m not going to lie to you, Jeffrey.” She wrote. “I’m a little wealthy and totally happy.”
I asked Donna Sweet if I could tell her story. I told her that some might find it interesting and others might take away a message. She agreed as long as I changed her name and our exact relationship, “But feel free to use the name of that car,” she said. “That Impala was nothing but trouble.”
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.