An Ode to Bootstrap Belle

I found you on Craigslist,
the cheapest of the cheap.
And even then I haggled
and got you even cheaper,
because you were ugly
and no one else wanted you—
and she was leaving for Paris on Wednesday.

You were rusty all over
and you smelled of reasonable suspicion
and your tires were all different
and you wobbled if we went too fast
and something clunked in the back
and you burned oil
and second gear was obstinate
and buttons didn’t work
and I had to whack the radio
and once I whacked a hole in the door to let all the rainwater out.

But you were loved,
a trusty companion at the end of her life
with just a little life left in her.
She said you were “a real bell!”
Did she misspell ‘belle’? Probably.
True, though, your soul was sound.
You still had a bit of zoom zoom spirit.

So I bought you, a bargain,
for a disposable amount,
because I had moved and just started my business
and the smart thing to do is “bootstrap! bootstrap!”
(as all the guys with Honda Civics say)
and I didn’t have much strap to begin with.

I was just using you,
and in truth you were disposable,
not worth much taking care of.
But you didn’t mind
and you performed your task with aplomb.

I parked you far away,
because in truth I was ashamed;
sheepish when clients or colleagues saw you.
Let’s face it: you weren’t a lawyer’s car
or a plumber’s car
or a plumber’s teenager’s car,
and try as I might to not care,
I did care
when all the punk 3Ls at the bar exam had Audis and I had you.
(Not that I would ever buy an Audi.)
I guess I felt not a little bit like Jimmy McGill.
But still you didn’t mind
and you performed your task with aplomb.

Remember that time
something died in your trunk?
And I didn’t know it until the spring thaw?
It wasn’t your fault,
and in truth it’s a decent story,
and now I know how to clean up liquid dead thing.

That’s just one example
of how you were more than your rusty parts.
You were bootstrapping
and hustling
and struggling
and worrying
and pluckiness
and doggedness
and most of all
a family provided for.

This week you died
as I thought you would:
in the line of duty,
not in some shed, or field, or auction lot.
That would not have fit you.
Something happened
and I heard the knocking
and still I pushed you—
I had meetings to get to,
if only you could get me fifteen miles more.

You couldn’t,
and stalled out at a busy red light,
your parting gift another modicum of embarrassment.
I didn’t really mind, though.
I knew this would happen sometime.
And you gave me a fine excuse
to enjoy the beautiful weather
and spend a little more time with my family.

And because of you, the next day
I had enough cash
to buy a Honda Civic.

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