In 1998, without a test drive, I bought a brand new, Honda Prelude. The car made me say "Wow" right out of the dealer lot and my satisfaction grew daily. In the beginning, I'd wash this car 1) every couple of days, or, 2) after so much as a speck of mud was discovered on the fender -whichever came first. I would use only the gentlest of auto hand-wash soaps. After these baths, the entire surface of my Prelude would sparkle like a jewel.

Within a month, I knew every inch of my new "Lude," and our relationship was, indeed, intimate. The need for a worthy nickname became obvious. I decided to name her "Creamy," because I couldn't imagine a car rollin' any smoother or sweeter than she did with her glimmering, pearl-white finish.

For a four-cylinder, I was surprised at the crazy torque her 195 horsepower could crank out. She'd hide her horses unless I pressed down hard on her throttle in which case she could make 'em scream real nice while thrusting any passengers deep into their seats. When Creamy screamed, she could devour an onramp in no time -inserting me between any two cars I chose.

Creamy was so good to me and she never complained -aside for an occasional soft tire or a rare interior rattle that was easily silenced with a small, folded piece of something wiggled into a crack just so. Those quirks were not expensive and, therefore, not worrisome. I chalked them up to "character."

Creamy saw the real me. She sure did hear me sing and dance like no one else did or has since.

She carried me through some dangerous driving situations -her agility helping me to avoid several serious accidents.

Creamy was privy to my romantic relationships. She helped me pamper the "keepers" and she drove me to the perfect curb for drop-off of the others.

She saw me through several job changes, and many of the most memorable times of my life.

Her stereo was magnificent. If Creamy wanted me to dance, she would pump it up until my insides felt massaged. I'm sure she laughed at my DWD (Dancing While Driving) but the music was too loud for me to hear her satisfied chuckles.

In 2003 Creamy's warranty came to an end. I made the tough decision to upgrade my car. After careful consideration, I opted to sell to a private party to remove risk of getting ripped-off on a dealer trade. I didn't tell Creamy my plan. She wouldn't have understood. There was no reason to make her suffer before she had to be told.

I listed Creamy in AutoTrader for an even $12k, hoping to get $10.5k. I included a nice photo that choked me up because she looked so doggon good. Within a day a mother and her seventeen-year-old son were buzzing the intercom outside my condo. Creamy was about to be judged for adoption. I opened the garage and led them back to my precious wheels. When I saw Creamy's headlights facing me, the pre-cry tightness began in my throat -I'll never forget it. I think my voice may have wavered as I circled Creamy with them, pointing out the expected minor dings. When the boy kicked Creamy's tire I stifled a reprimand by biting my lip and quickly looking away. I patted a tire with my hand -as an example to the boy, and assured him that each tire was brand new.

Creamy couldn't look at me. She finally knew. Her tinted windows reflected the betrayal that was written all over my sorry, fickle face. The excruciating thing was a sense that she had already forgiven me! After she had faithfully transported me anywhere I wanted to go, heated my feet in the winter, blew refreshing a/c on my face in August, here I was, selling her! And she just sat there and took it! At that moment a knife, twisted into my heart, would have been more comfortable than her forgiveness.

I looked at the boy. The grin he couldn't hide and the hope in his eyes consoled me with the notion of a good future home for Creamy. He stared at this five-year-old car that had obviously been loved and rubbed with a diaper every week without fail. He looked under the hood but knew he didn't need to. He turned to his mom and shrugged as if to say, "This is amazing." She then pulled a pen and checkbook from her purse. She approached me and said, "You have taken wonderful care of this car." She then handed me a check for $12k without a whisper of negotiation.

I was tempted to ask for a private moment with Creamy but I resisted. It was done. Why masochistically draw out the pain of ending a great relationship?

As the boy drove Creamy out of my garage, his mom and I followed, walking to her car parked in front. She said, "This is going to lift his spirits so much. Two weeks ago he totaled a white Prelude identical to yours. I hope he has better luck now." My knees buckled but I managed to catch myself. Then, in the distance, I heard Creamy screaming away in a gear that was way too low.

I held myself together until the mom left. Inside my house, I flung the check in the air and fell to my knees. The check twirled, landing face up, right in front of me. "Blood money," I gasped. Gripping and twisting the front of my shirt, I began to wail, "Oh, what have I done? Whyyyyyyyyyyy?"

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