The Love Bus was the First Love of my driving life, which I came rather late to at the age of 36. The idea that I could just jump into it and drive wherever my heart desired without looking up timetables and working out connections quite simply Blew. My. Mind. I was happy. The kids were happy. The Love Bus was happy. My husband was also happy – mostly because it meant he could sit in the passenger seat and line up vodka jelly shots along the dashboard.
Then the cracks began to show. The Love Bus started to let me down. It made me refine my skills at entertaining small children in roadside fields while it overheated. It made me flash my breasts in a country pub. Its door started falling off without warning. Every noise it made caused me the kind of anxiety usually only experienced by first-time parents.
But it when it broke down the last time on The Long Journey Home, I was Officially Over It. As my friend MGK pointed out, it was like an abusive relationship that I had to just walk away from, never to return.
And she was right. The Love Bus became as good as dead to me. Whereas I’d once cried at the thought of decomissioning it, this time I was dry-eyed and cold. I never wanted to see it again. Not even to say good-bye. And in any case, it hadn’t taken me long to find myself a New Car. With functioning air-conditioning. And a key that didn’t require me to jiggle it around for half an hour to get it to turn. And a floor that wasn’t covered in 100s & 1000s, squashed sultanas and stale cake crumbs (yet).
And then my husband decided we should fix the Love Bus and sell it, rather than end up paying someone else to take it away for scrap metal. As far as I could tell, his reasoning behind this move was pretty much: “We’ve poured so much money into the thing already, why not pour some more in?”.
And so The Love Bus went off to be rehabilitated at the mechanics and soon returned with a reconditioned engine and a new automatic transmission. At which point, it proceeded to sit untouched, unadvertised and (most certainly) unsold outside our house for one long month.
Most of the time, I just carried about my business as if it wasn’t even there. It’s like I couldn’t even see it any more. But some nights it felt like The Love Bus was standing out there with a boom-box held over its head, blaring out some Peter Gabriel song, willing me to come out and play. Still, I couldn’t afford to open my heart to it again: I remained unmoved. Unmoved, that is, until the first Gentleman Caller arrived asking to look at The Love Bus.
The Gentleman Caller was a man with a small business who wanted an old van for his fleet of old vans. To be quite frank, he didn’t look good enough for my Love Bus. He kicked its tyres and even sneered at the little dent on its side that I’d caused while parking next to a trolley bay. I didn’t think he would appreciate its magnificent turning circle, nor its rainy-day picnic venue potential, nor the fact that its documentation listed its official colour as ‘Champagne’. And he quite obviously didn’t, because he offered us far less money than we were asking.
“He’s not good enough,” I said to my husband. “He doesn’t deserve it.”
“Well, if we don’t get our reserve price, we’ll just keep it,” my husband replied.
Um… Put that way, I wasn’t so sure. Especially since we were standing in the long black shadow of credit card debt thanks to its recent extreme makeover.
But while I didn’t want the Love Bus myself, I most certainly wished it well. I wanted it to go to a nice family. You know, the kind of nice family that would look after it and take it nice places and who didn’t mind spending quality family time alongside the highway waiting for the engine to cool down and/or the roadside assistance guy to arrive.
At the very least, I wanted the new owner to appreciate its turning circle. In fact, I think I’m going to add the words “Impress your friends with your U- turns!” to the FOR SALE sign and draw some love hearts on it. Of course, that would involve me actually going over to it and touching it, which might give it false hope that we’re going to get back together after all. So I might just get my husband to do it – including drawing the love hearts. And then I’m going to make him drive around in it until he finds a genuine buyer OR it breaks down again.
I think we all know which one is more likely to happen first.