My car is something special. Not only is it over ten years old but we brought it over from Ireland so it has Irish plates and the steering wheel is on the right-hand side. That would be enough, right? But there's more.
It is a Toyota and originally from Japan. I know what you're thinking, 'of course it's from Japan, it's a Toyota.' But I mean it was driven in Japan. Did you know they drive on the right-hand side too? I had to go back and look at Lost in Translation again to confirm. When we first bought it from American friends in Dublin we would find receipts in Japanese for huge amounts of Yen. This means our great white, psychedelic blue interior Toyota was driven in Japan and then sent over to Ireland on a boat where an Irish person bought and drove it, sold it to Americans who in turn sold it to us.
And now She lives in the South of France. Not bad for a 7-seater born in Japan in 1997.
We have driven Great White to every corner of the Green Isle and back; loaded her down with all our possessions we didn't pack for shipping and brought her to France. She spent the morning on a ferry from Ireland to Wales, drove us across Wales and England to spend a night on the ferry to France and then made it across this Texas-sized country like a champ. How could I not love this car? Warts and all.
It does bug me a bit that she's such a head-turner here. I'm marked out as a foreigner even without opening my mouth. I can't even drive around unnoticed, pretending I'm just as much of a Frenchie as the next person. But it's hilarious to watch people take it all in. They do a double take. Look, pause, look again. Sometimes even stopping dead in their tracks to inspect the plates and then nod, 'Ah, Irlande.'
This is especially true when ma Fille is sitting in the front passenger seat. It's like when I first moved to Ireland and would freak out when the person in the passenger seat was reading the newspaper or happened to be a dog. "What?! Who's driving that car?!", I would think for the split second it took my brain to remember. Imagine when the Frenchies see a little girl in the driver's seat. It makes me laugh to watch their expressions and subsequent realizations.
Toll booths, parking garages, drive-thrus and gas stations are fun too. If I don't have a child with me to reach out and handle the ticket getting and bill paying then I have to put it in park, unbuckle and streeetch over. The other day as I did this to pay for gas the attendant smiled and asked, 'Where is your car from?' 'Ireland.', I answered.'Oh, are you Irish?', he asked. 'Ma voiture est Irlandaise mais je ne suis pas.'
Really the old girl is Japanese. But I didn't want to confuse things.
She's not sexy but she turns heads. And she's gotten us where we were meant to go. Long may she last. I hope the squirrels or sewing machine or whatever it is in there that keeps her moving along doesn't give up on us anytime soon.
Cheers to you Great White, the best dang car on four wheels, so y'are.