Columns

Name that car!

My friend Sarah loves her car. Seriously loves it. So when a rogue deer did significant damage to it one dark February night, she was heartsick.

When she finally got it back from the body shop, she posted a photo of it on Instagram, rejoicing that her Honda Accord’s sleek midnight blue body had been restored.

A friend commented that she loved her car too, and asked Sarah if her car had a name.

Regular readers of this column won’t be surprised by her answer.

Some months ago I wrote about Sarah’s cat – a boy named Rose, with no middle name to give his feline status some dignity.

I suggested Rose Henry. Sarah’s husband balked.

“His name is Rose. Just Rose,” he insisted.

So, of course her beautiful blue car is currently nameless.

Our family vehicles have always had names. After all, sometimes I feel like I spend more time with my car than with my family. I can’t have that kind of intimate relationship with some nameless hunk of metal.

Currently, I drive a gold Oldsmobile Intrigue. Her name is Golda MyDear.

She wasn’t my idea.

When I was finally ready to downsize from the minivan mama life, I imagined my next car would be a ’65 cherry red Mustang convertible. Or a sporty SUV.

But my sister-in-law’s mother could no longer drive, and they wanted to get rid of her car, so as not to tempt her. It was in great condition, with very few miles, and it ended up in our driveway.

A four-door sedan formerly owned by a granny wasn’t what I’d planned, but after a few days behind the wheel, I began to appreciate her tight turn radius and easy ride.

Golda and I hit the road when my book, “War Bonds,” came out. She faithfully took me to bookstores across the state.

I thought everyone named their cars, and judging from the response to my social media post about Sarah’s nameless Honda, lots of people do christen their rides.

My friend, Annie, drives a Pilot named Pontius.

“When it was brand new, I became irritated with how concerned I was with it and to humble myself I named it Pontius,” she wrote.”I realize it’s not a Pilate, but Amelia Earhart seemed too long.”

Betsy has a Subaru named Ruby Sue.

Just reading that makes me happy.

The Curless rigs have more prosaic monikers. “Our truck is the Big Nasty, and the SUV is Grocery Getter,” wrote Gail.

Candy said her first car was a Ford Pinto named Bean.

Some folks give a nod to pop culture. Fans of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films will recognize the origin of Rob Brewer’s Sequoia. Its name is Groot.

His wife calls their Acadia, Katie.

Go ahead. Say it out loud.

My friend Denise said she calls her car Honey, because when it tries to go up a hill without slowing down, she just has to say, “Oh, honey. …”

Susie says her car is “Andretti, because I’m Mario!”

Steven drives “Vandola,” a cross between a van and a gondola, and Kris has Flo the Ford Flex, and Sven the Volvo V70.

Our family fleet included the Red Dragon, my ’75 Pontiac LeMans that one hot summer in our glorious BC (before children) years, took Derek and me all the way to Disneyland with frequent stops due to vapor lock.

The first minivan I drove was christened The Miracle.

With a third child’s birth imminent, we desperately needed a bigger, more reliable vehicle than my aging Ford Tempo.

We couldn’t afford a car payment, so each night during bedtime prayers, our oldest sons prayed for God to send us a minivan.

A few weeks before Zachary’s birth, Derek’s brother and sister surprised us with a used Dodge Caravan.

“We just felt God wanted you to have this car,” his sister said.

“It’s our miracle!” our firstborn said.

Miraculous or not, our cars get us where we need to go. They help us provide for our families. If that’s not deserving of a name, I don’t know what is.

Alas, Sarah’s beloved Honda is still nameless.

My husband suggested she call it The Deer Slayer, but I haven’t had the heart to mention that to her. She’s dealing with far more important issues at the moment.

“Seriously,” she said. “I’ve been too busy trying to think of a middle name for our cats.”

Well. You have to respect her priorities.

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” Her previous columns are available online at http://www.spokesman.com/staff/cindy-hval/. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.

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Columns

Family, friends, foes and Facebook: Election 2016

There’s a reason I keep my Facebook page politics-free, and it has little to do with being a journalist.

I don’t like conflict. I don’t like name-calling, and I really, really don’t like intolerance and ignorance.

Sadly, there’s nothing like a contentious election season to bring out all of the above. But I purposely keep my political views to myself. In fact, for someone who’s written a column about her underwear, I’m actually an intensely private person. Imagine my surprise when I found myself unfriended by a family member following the election.

My apparent offense? I “liked” a comment another family member had left that repudiated a label often used during passionate political posts. The label? “Privileged white male.” The PWM in question explained why he was tired of his opinions being dismissed with this label and I liked his explanation.

Bam. Apparently, hitting the like button on that comment exceeded her tolerance level. Keep in mind I’d never disagreed or argued with anything this person had posted.

I’m not alone in my experience. A friend was banished from Facebook friendship by a family member because he admitted he’d left the presidential spot blank on his ballot. He couldn’t stomach either option, so he did what he felt was honorable.

He was accused of being a sexist, racist jerk and told that he should … well, I can’t print the rest of the rant in a family newspaper.

When imagined incorrect interpretations are applied to Facebook likes, when rage and rhetoric rule the day, how then can our country and our community move forward? Is it possible to stand and fight for causes and people we’re passionate about without dipping buckets into wells of hatred and splattering others with venom and vitriol?

I’d like to think it is. Perhaps part of the solution is getting to know the “other” among us.

In the weeks preceding the election I had coffee with a friend who said she honestly didn’t know anyone who would vote for Donald Trump. She was joyfully planning a small voting victory party for election night.

That same week I had lunch with a friend who said she didn’t know anyone who would actually vote for Hillary Clinton. “Of course, that doesn’t mean she won’t win,” my friend said. “It’s just that I can’t imagine anyone I know choosing her.”

My reticence renders me like Switzerland, so both of these friends felt comfortable tossing around labels about people who would vote for the candidates they opposed.

“Underclass, undereducated, sexist bigots,” my liberal friend opined.

“Sensitive snowflakes, elitists and whiny millennials,” my conservative friend asserted.

And therein lays the problem. The minute we apply a blanket label to anyone who may vote differently from us, we’ve ensured our bubble is intact. We have become so comfortable in our social and political isolation that we have lost touch with the wider world.

This past week I’ve seen an outpouring of grieving and gloating on social media, and while the hateful rhetoric of some shocked and saddened me, I was relieved that my closest circle of friends had more measured thoughtful reactions.

Whether frightened or hopeful about the next few years, I hope the path forward will include listening and learning from those who differ from us. Hatred can never be part of the solution.

Violence won’t beget tolerance or peace. Rage doesn’t lead to enlightenment.

Our children are watching. They’re listening to our words. They’re reading our posts on social media. If we truly want to create a safe world for them to thrive in, we owe it to them to forge ahead with courage and to take every opportunity to choose love.

The words of Martin Luther King Jr. have never been more apt, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” You can listen to her podcast “Life, Love and Raising Sons” at SpokaneTalksOnline.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/ columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.