True Love Travels on a Gravel Road by Becky Robison
I named your car Schnauzer because its bumper dragged like a tattered gray mustache on the pavement. It growled the whole drive to Vegas, but it didn’t fall off. We got married at a chapel on the seedy end of the Strip, where my friend Iris had been working as an Elvis impersonator-slash-ordained minister ever since her divorce. After pronouncing us Man and Wife, she sang “Love Me Tender” in a low vibrato, so close to the real thing. She offered to string cans to the car, said the chapel saved all its guests’ empty beers for just that purpose, but we declined. We knew Schnauzer already made enough noise to herald the approach of the happy couple, bark bark.
I named your car Ghost because I didn’t see or hear it before it ran over my left foot, splat. Later, when you told this story to our friends, you said you thought you’d seen a ghost—me, in shock, swaying white and woozy in the crosswalk. But I was real enough to climb into the passenger seat when you offered to drive me to the hospital. Elvis was on the radio, and I sang along to distract myself, well my hands are shaky and my knees are weak, I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet. When the triage nurse asked about you, I felt guilty—I didn’t want to say, this is the negligent driver who destroyed my foot. Instead, I told her you were my boyfriend. And you acted like one—you stayed by my side through the x-rays, the bandages. You gave me a lift home and I asked for your number. You thought it was for insurance. As soon as the walking cast came off, I asked you to marry me.
I named your car Lullaby because I always fell asleep when I was inside it—even when I was driving, which caused more fender benders than I care to admit. You only agreed to marry me on the condition I stop driving it, and I only agreed to marry you on the condition we buy a scooter—I had to get around somehow, it’s not like we’d go everywhere together, even if we did vow til death do us part. I named the scooter Elvis because it sparkled the shiny gold of a 70s leisure suit. I wanted to ride Elvis to our wedding, make an entrance, walk down the aisle to “Burning Love.” You said that would embarrass you. Instead you drove us to the church in Lullaby, and I woke groggy in the parking lot, drool dribbling on the pearl neckline of my dress.