Naming the new car

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Feature

I have been torn about what to name my new car. We are starting to bond, so finding a name is crucial.

The bonding is coming more slowly than it did with Esmerelda, the big green conversion van I had until 2004, when I bought Chrissy the Chrysler. Chrissy and I bonded fairly quickly, too, and I named her as I was driving her home.

But this car is different. It’s smaller than any car I have had since my college days. It isn’t a Gigi-grandmother car, but it isn’t a reclaim-my-youth car either. I expect it is my most practical car – good gas mileage, excellent safety features.

It’s definitely a “she.” I have only had one male car in my life, the BattleWagon, a big bronze station wagon with fake wood decals on the side. He was a monster of a car, and I always felt so safe in BattleWagon. He had a “going to get you there” attitude and could haul as much as a pick-up truck. I loved BattleWagon, even when the fake wood decals started peeling off the sides.

My mother always named her cars “Betsy.” When one Betsy wore out, another Betsy took her place, no matter the model, make or color. When I started driving, I tried to rename Betsy the Monte Carlo we had “Monte,” but it just didn’t stick.

When I got a car of my own, as a sophomore in college, it was an AMC Hornet Hatchback. I started calling her Hallie the Hornet, but my grandmother didn’t like having a car named after her, so the car became “the Hornet.”

My first try at naming the new car was to rhyme something with the make. I tried out Tessa the Toyota, hoping the four-wheeled Tessa would be like the human Tessa in my life, a friend who is smart, practical, lots of fun and beautiful. She is also reliable and safety-wise, so it fit.

But somehow it didn’t work for the car. My 12-year-old grandson, Cohen, was visiting, so I asked him for help. Cohen tolerates a lot from his Gigi, so he gave thumbs up or down to some of my ideas, which included names such as Teeny, Jewel and Ruby.

Finally, Cohen, looking at her beautiful red color, said, “How about Scarlett?”

Sherri and the new car, Scarlett

Scarlett. I liked it immediately. I’m sure Cohen wasn’t thinking of Scarlett O’Hara, but I was, so the name fits both because of color and character.

I think my Scarlett will be a fun car, more frivolous than Chrissy. She is easier to maneuver, but she knows her own mind. She likes to look good and constantly beeps at me to get back in my lane to keep her paint job safe. But I think she will be strong and resilient, in spite of her pretty face.

Welcome to the family, Scarlett.  I hope your stay with us will be a long one.


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