I know I’m not the only person on the planet who names my cars. In fact, I’m willing to bet a lot of people do — probably more women than men.
My first car, a little blue Renault, I named Ozzie. No idea why — it just looked like an Ozzie.
My next car was a red Studebaker Hawk when I was in the Foreign Service in Pretoria, South Africa. One of the Foreign Service officers was leaving and sold it at a price I could afford. The car came pre-named: The Sexy Red Flash. So Flash it was.
In London I got a second-hand Peugeot and named it Scout because it was a trusty little guy who accompanied me on all kinds of adventures into uncharted waters — and meadows and villages.
When I got home to California several years later, I bought a second-hand Volkswagen squareback (fancy name for little station wagon) which I named Jeremy Spencer after two of my favorite Englishmen: Jeremy Brett, an actor, and Spencer for Winston Spencer Churchill. It was a German car, but nevertheless, the English name seemed right.
And on and on. And now, three months after I’ve bought a cute little sparkly Ford Escape, I’m still casting about for a name! After I’d bought it and the dealer had done all their little last-minute things like detailing it (well, they called it detailing, I call it running it through the car wash), and filling it with gas, the salesman took me outside, handed over the keys and said, “Here she is.”
“She?” I asked. “It’s a girl?”
He looked nonplussed. “Ah, I don’t exactly know. I just thought it was a girl.”
“All my cars have been boys.”
We stood and looked at each other for a moment and then at the car, then back at each other. He shrugged.
“I just never thought of a car as a girl,” I said. He nodded mutely. Obviously, that was not a question that was going to be settled that day.
And so it is, three months gone, and I’ve still not found the right name. Several people suggested Scout Junior, in honor of my last car, a Ford Explorer named Scout that I absolutely loved. But that would make three Scouts and somehow it just doesn’t seem right. This little guy deserves his very own name, but I’m starting to get desperate — all my cars have had names. Even the Toyota Rav4 which I loathed, had a name. I knew almost from the beginning that I wasn’t going to keep it, but told Phyllis Palmer that I was just looking after it until its rightful owner came along. “Oh,” she said, “it’s a foster-car.” So it became Foster.
Yesterday it occurred to me that perhaps I haven’t been able to find a name that fits because maybe — is it possible? — could this be a girl??
Several girls names immediately presented themselves: Veronica, Felicia, Amanda, Rosalind. I rejected them all. Samantha, I’m thinking now. It could be Samantha. Miranda — how about Miranda. I had an aunt by that name and it’s a Shakespearean name. Hmmm…
Every time I get in him (her?) I start reciting names out loud, waiting for the one that clicks. So far, no clicks. I’ll keep trying, and I’ll let you know. Maybe you have a good car name?