June 06, 2006

The Beast

Today is 6-6-06. My very first car was nicknamed, "The Beast," and I'm well-aquainted with the "number of the beast" hoopla (ref. Revelations 13:18). When I went to get that car registered, finally making it up to the counter after waiting in the switchback DMV line for approximately two years, the following exchange ensued:

DMV clerk: Do you care what license plate you get?
Me, confused: Do I get a choice? (I had already scoped out the vanity plate options and decided they weren't for me.)
DMV clerk: No, not really.
Me: So, um, if I don't have a choice, why are you asking me if I care?
DMV clerk: [in a whisper] Because this is supposed to be the next one. (Holds up plate emblazoned with the license number CMG-666.)

Me: I'll take it! [Insert sound of the long snaky line of God-fearing Chemung County people behind me gasping in horror.]

Apparently the clerk had tried multiple times to assign that plate, but kept having folks flat-out refuse. Contrarian that I am, I thought, "Well, maybe this will lessen the chances that someone will steal it."

Not that theft was likely to be on anyone's mind. The Beast was a 1972 Buick Skylark, w/ a massive V8 engine that cranked out horsepower a-gogo. It also guzzled gas like nobody's business; if you went up a steep enough incline at a sufficiently aggressive pace, you could visually observe the gas gauge needle going down.

That's a fully restored and slightly souped up '72 Skylark, probably pretty close to what designers who had trained with Harley Earl had in mind... a thing of beauty, n'cest pas? If only I'd held onto her a few more years. But because of The Beast's strength and power, I tended to drive her like this:

So my car wasn't showroom material, but well-loved nonetheless. Eventually I moved to New Jersey; with new plates, the Beast no longer wore "the mark of the Beast." Still, everyone who ever rode in her called her that. And when the time came -- no functioning heat, scary knocking noises in the engine, etc. etc. I put an ad in the paper saying that she was free to a good home. (Since my chauffeur grandfather had given her to me, it somehow didn't seem right to make a profit on her.) I made sure to hand the Beast along to a mechanically-minded young man with a gleam in his eye, and for several years afterwards I was inordinately cheered by a few scattered sightings of her still out there on the road terrorizing the cars with some book value left in 'em.

So I'm not afraid of days or license plates numbered "666." How 'bout you?

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