Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

You Are What You Car

Jackie K. Cooper

Today I bought a new car. Just like that. It didn't take a lot of research or days of trying one car out and then another. I just went to my local Saturn dealer and bought it. I didn't get a sports car (my mid life crisis is on hold) or an SUV. I didn't look at red cars or convertibles. I just went with a standard sedan in silver.

As I looked at the car, it brought back something I heard years ago. My best friend Tucker told me, "You are what you car." In other words if you wanted to be seen as slightly edgy, pick a slightly edgy car. Or if you wanted to be sporty, pick a sporty car. I looked at my silver sedan and repeated to myself—you are what you car. And I car conservatively.

Now inside my new car, I have On Star and Sirius Radio. I also have leather seats and radial wheel covers. So what you see is not completely what you are getting. The same with me. I have my moments of adventure.

Cars, though, have never been a big thing with me. I just want something that gets good mileage and is reliable. That is why I traded cars. My wife's car (she gets my hand-me-downs) has been acting up. I really didn't feel safe with her driving it back and forth to school every day. Plus, it has 169,000 miles on it. We do tend to drive our cars till they drop.

I honestly tried to get my wife to take the new car, and I am going to keep on her about it. But she says she only drives to school and so she doesn't need the newer car. However, she has been oohing and ahing over "Mini-Coopers." She thinks they are cute. I even heard her telling a friend that she thought the convertibles were great. If I hear her saying it would be nice to have one in yellow or red I will know her mid life crisis has kicked in!

One reason I keep cars for so long is that I become attached to them. A few days ago the car I have been driving wouldn't start. I came out of a movie theater, and it just wouldn't catch. I called my wife to come get me and then I called a towing service. After I made these calls I said I am going to give it one more try. The car started.

When I got it to the garage I use, they said it was a bad sensor. They also told me they couldn't believe the car started. But I understood. My car had reached down and summoned all its power to make the engine start one more time. That's the kind of relationship I have with my cars. They take care of me and I take care of them.

That is the kind of tender loving care I will give my new car. The one that says I am a silver Saturn sedan kind of person. I am what I car, and doggone proud of it.


Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events.

Cooper has lived an exceptionally interesting life and portions of it are contained in his first book Journey of a Gentle Southern Man. The journey continued in Chances and Choices.

Jackie's first two books, Journey of a Gentle Southern Man and Chances and Choices, were reprinted and published by Mercer University Press in July 2004. His third book Halfway Home was published by Mercer University Press in October 2004.

Cooper's fourth book, released in 2006, is The Bookbinder.

Visit his website, or email Jackie.


© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012