What Drives You?

Posted at 14:25pm on 8th April 2009

Once upon a time there was a little white car, shiny and new. It had been specially made by its designer so that they could go out and about together, and although the little white car knew that there were bigger, fancier cars than himself, he always felt that he was – well, special!

He knew that sometimes the bigger cars went with his designer into the city – and though he’d never seen the city, he sometimes heard them talking and knew that they progressed majestically down the Malls, pootled around the parklands, and drove up roads thronged with crowds and lined with buildings so tall and imposing you’d get a crick in your bonnet trying to peer up at them.

But for himself, he enjoyed nothing more than cruising off into the countryside with his designer at the wheel, where the sights and sounds and scents filled them both with delight. If the little white car thought about it at all – and he did, quite often – he knew that sharing that pleasure with his designer enhanced it for them both.

True, there had been one or two occasions when the little white car’s designer had had to reprimand him. Once it was when he’d become too excited with the flight of the herring gulls and, wanting to join them, had strayed too near the cliff edge. His designer had jammed on the brake so hard that it hurt the little white car and – just for a moment – he’d felt like shouting ‘I hate you’ because, after all, the designer had spoiled his fun. And there was another occasion when he’d wanted to cross a ford when the river was in full spate and again, he’d had this painful slap on the brake.

The little white car held no hard feelings, however (though secretly he sometimes wished he could just let rip) because each time it happened, his designer took him quietly on one side and told him that he was so special to him, and loved him so much, that if anything befell him it would break his designer’s heart. And the little white car couldn’t bear to be the cause of bringing pain to his designer.

Until, that was – well he couldn’t help himself could he? It happened to all adolescents, he was told: falling in love. And whose engine wouldn’t race, he’d like to know, at the sight of the little red shiny car whose Easter bonnet dashed across his line of vision one bright and beautiful day.

‘C’mon!’ she called, flashing her headlights at him. ‘Can’t catch me!’ and off she sped, wheels screeching with laughter, her pretty horn hooting to him to follow.

To his credit the little white car did look round to see if his designer was about. But the temptation to hit the road, to enjoy what this little red doll of a car was enjoying – well, it was just too much, wasn’t it! How could any lusty little boy car be expected to resist? He shot a second guilty glance over his wheel arch, then flung himself into gear, pushed his accelerator hard to the floor – and he was off, engine racing, fuel pumping through his carburettor, rubber tearing into tarmac as he careered around corners until there, at last, the love of his life was in sight.

At least – he thought it was her. It was hard to be sure. For there in front of him were more cars than he’d ever seen or imagined! Hundreds of them - all brilliant colours, red and orange, yellow, green and blue, indigo and violet - and all turning to flash their headlights at him. Him! Imagine! He blushed a pale shade of pink.

‘How d’you manage to go so fast?’ he asked, shyly, to conceal his embarrassment.

‘What drives you?’ they asked in unison.

‘Why, my designer,’ he replied, confused.

‘No, silly! What makes your engine spark?’

He blushed again, a deeper shade of pink.

But before he could reply, the little coloured cars chorused, ‘We run on stardust! It’s the best.’

‘Stardust?’ asked the little white car.

‘We were once like you,’ they continued. ‘Boring, ordinary, insignificant little white cars. Now that we exude colour and excitement, everyone wants to follow us; to be like us.’

The little white car hung his bumper, his radiator grill downturned. He’d never felt ordinary or insignificant before, but now he could see that the feelings he’d had of being special to his designer were nothing compared to the vibrancy of these brightly coloured cars. He longed to be like them. To be free. To hit the road; to chortle into town; to party; to be the envy of all the white cars, big and little, that slept at night in his designer’s garage under the protection of his guards, and that only ever went out with their designer at the wheel.

‘Want to be a follower?’ asked ‘his’ little red car, alluringly.

‘Oh, yes!’ he answered, unreservedly.

‘Gotta make changes . . .’ she said.

‘Yes! Yes!’ He nearly swooned.

‘You can’t be cool and do what we do without stardust in your tank.’

‘No! No!’ he agreed. ‘Where d’you get the stardust? Show me. I’ll follow you wherever you go.’

‘It’s dangerous,’ warned the little red car. ‘You gotta take risks. Expose yourself. Show the others you got guts.’

‘Anything! Anything!’

He was nearly begging now, gagging to be a follower, to be one with the crowd.

‘He’s in,’ the little red car honked to the others. ‘Now here’s what you do. You have a choice. You either jump from the cliff top where the herring gulls swoop and make their nests. Or you cross the ford when the river’s in full spate. It’s up to you.’

The little white car nearly stalled.

‘Don’t do it!’

He heard the voice of his designer as if he were at the wheel.

‘Don’t do it. You’re too special to me. I love you too much. Don’t put yourself at risk.’

The coloured cars began to rev their engines, drowning out the sound of the designer’s voice in his head.

‘Well?’ they honked, beginning to turn towards the cliffs. ‘You comin’ or what? Can’t hang out here all night. We’ve a rev to attend.’

The little white car’s engine sputtered again. For a second he hesitated. He thought, briefly, of the cool white garage, the cool white designer, his trips in the country and the bigger cars’ trips to the city. Then he put himself in gear, shoved his accelerator hard to the floor, and revved up so loud he felt as if his carburettor would burst.

‘Coming!’ his horn blared, with a squeak of adolescence. And he shot off in pursuit as fast as his little pink pistons would take him.

Who, he thought, as he dashed through the lanes to the clifftop, who but the most boring, insignificant little white car would want haemoglobin in their tank, when they could have stardust.


© Mel Menzies, 7th April, 2009

Photo: Paul Eaton

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