Tribute to the 88 Honda

I had an idea for a comedy routine that would include this derivative one-liner:  if your car is older than your paralegal . . . YOU COULD BE A PLAINTIFFS’ LAWYER!  I never came up with other humorous  Foxworthian indicia of plaintiffs’ lawyer status, so that was as far as I got.  But I would like to pay tribute to the car that inspired that hilarious line:  My 1988 Honda Accord.

January 1988:  Purchased.  At the ripe old age of 27, I had never actually owned my own car.   I had previously driven the family Fiat (in high school) and a hand-me-down Malibu — the quirks of which I have previously described — in law school.  In between, I lived on a self-contained college campus (where the Fiat was an occasional visitor) and then in Taipei, which had such an outstanding bus system that I spent three years not driving and not missing it.

Early Summer 1988:  Drove the Accord cross country to a summer associate position in Los Angeles.  For part of the journey, I was joined by the guy I was misguidedly dating at the time.  Advice for any young ladies reading this:  Young Ladies, do not attempt to teach your boyfriends* to drive stick shift cars.  If your guy does not know how to drive a stick shift car, my advice is just to dump him now, as it suggests that he is too coddled to make good boyfriend material.

Late Summer 1988:  Drove the Accord back across country to start my clerkship in VA.  Picked up step-brother in Santa Fe.  Based on fear of step-brother’s driving record (love you, Jeff!), undertook to keep the wheel to myself during a three-day dash from Santa Fe to Arlington, VA.  Another lesson learned:  you cannot get off the highway in Oklahoma and expect to get a good steak at a random steakhouse. didn’t exist in those days.

1988-89:  Lived in Richmond for my clerkship.  The Honda acquired the trunk gash it still bears today from some klutz’s attempt to attach a bike rack and (what the hell) a bike to the back of the car.

September 1989:  Drove to Minneapolis based on misguided relationship.  See supra.

February 1991:  Escape vehicle from misguided relationship.  Driven at great speed from MN to VA.  Stopped in IL to visit law school roommate, whose two-year old painted me a picture, which I put on top of the worldly possessions stuffed into the car.  To this day, I think of that 2-year-old (who, I believe, just graduated from college) every time I look in the rear view mirror and see the glop of yellow paint that remains from the inevitable moment when the picture flew up from the worldly possessions and adhered to the back window.

January 1992: Spun out in the snow driving to first date with Tim.  I remain very grateful that the Honda righted itself and I made it to the date on time.  Tim received early warning of my driving skills.

Later in 1992:  Acquired a “Clinton for President” bumper sticker, which would, even later, be covered with an X of duct tape when . . .

1993:  I loaned the Honda to my conservative brother.  It spent several months as the vehicle of choice for my sister-in-law to transport my newborn nephew — who is now 17 — as it had four doors to her CRV’s two.  That meant I got to drive around in a sporty red CRV for a few months.

1995:  Traveled to Denver in the back of a moving van.  I think it is still pissed at me for that.

Since 1995, the Accord has seen a lot less driving time, as Tim and I commute in the van.  It is now missing its hubcaps and the trim on the passenger side, which largely means that no one — no one — ever challenges me when I want to change lanes.  A few years ago, when I parked it on the street in front of our house for one night — it usually lives in the garage — someone broke the driver’s side window and crowbarred the original equipment radio and cassette (cassette!) deck out of the dashboard.  This had to have been the single most pointless and annoying crime in the history of crime, as the criminal ended up with a P.O.S. sound system, and I discovered that the cost of replacing that part of the dashboard — even without a new radio — exceeded the book value of the car. Luckily the thief left the lighter socket, so sound now comes from a jerry-rigged system involving a DC to AC outlet adapter and my smart phone.

From time to time, we talk about replacing the 88 Accord, but it never gives us a good reason to do that , and honestly I’m not sure how I’ll part with it.  Although automotive technology has advanced considerably in the past 23 years, I think the only thing I really miss is:  a cupholder.

* Upon rereading, I recognized the heterocentrist assumptions underlying this sentence.  So to clarify:  advice for any young ladies dating young men.  I do not have any data on the advisability of young ladies trying to teach their girlfriends to drive manual shift cars.

15 thoughts on “Tribute to the 88 Honda

  1. Kevin

    Weeping and howling. A great story extraordinarily well told. Homage owed and random thoughts as always. NOTHING beats old and true friends. Girls-boys, hetero-homo…same answer. I miss the ones that got away, e.g., the Gremlin and the 4-door Cutlass. The miles on the car associated with the boy, and the fact the friend remains…priceless! Does it have a name? Bessie is gone, but she left me great stories…(try tune of “Bobby McGhee”) “Broke down in Barstow with nothin’ but a lift. Fast lane on I-15. Attendants are a gift.” My country blog arrives soon.”


  2. Kevin

    Oops…random thought re: girls-boys, hetero-homo was truly random, i.e., if you have to show him/her/etc. how to use a stick shift…high maintenance.


  3. Amy Robertson Post author

    The Fiat was Mom’s — and not the pinnacle of European engineering, either. It had no air conditioning or power steering and the interior was a color that we referred to as “dog diarrhea brown.”

    Love the country song! And you must have looked very badass in the Cutlass!


    1. Blueloom

      Actually, the ugly olive green Fiat with dog-diarrhea brown interior started out as mine. But after Amy got her license, I handed it down to her with the proviso that she share the driving to her brother’s many baseball practices and games. After Amy left for college, I believe Bruce took over ownership for a while. Eventually, it reverted to me. In the great Commonwealth of Vahginyah, our cars must pass inspection annually. In the Fiat’s last year, our mechanic said (1) he would pass it as long as we promised not to drive it on superhighways and (2) he would not pass it the following year. I believe at that point we could see the road through the no-longer-existing floorboards. The late, unlamented olive green Fiat ended its days in a junkyard. “If you can drive it here, we’ll give you $35 for it. If we have to pick it up, we’ll give you $25,” said the junkyard guy. We drove it there.


  4. Vince Y

    Hilarious! I had an 88 too! But hardly as colorful an experience. POS? Point Of Sale? Oh, no, I get it! 🙂 I could tell you about my long term automotive companion, a 64 MGB. Just moved her into storage in prep for moving to Kyoto! Sniff.


  5. Amy Robertson Post author

    Wow – a 64 MGB – that is truly, unsarcastically, badass. I know the parting will be hard, but it sounds like you’re taking good care of her.

    So good to hear from you. And hope you’ll post to FB on your Kyoto adventures. What takes you there – work? sabbatical? early retirement?


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  7. brucecrobertson

    As soon as I started reading this, I knew I had to post my fondest memory of the 88 Honda, but you beat me to it. I brought my first child home from the hospital in it. And, yes, he’s driving now. And, to clarify, I put black duct tape over the Clinton bumper sticker, not duct tape. Important distinction – duct tape is forever; electrical tape is temporary. Out of respect for the car’s liberal owner, I made sure the 88 Honda could be flexible in being a conservative vehicle for a while, but revert to being a liberal ride upon her(*) return to her rightful owner.

    I also have some fond (and many not-so-fond) memories of Yertle the Turtle (AKA, the olive green Fiat). By the time that POS became mine, there was a 50% chance she(*) would start on any given day, a probability that dropped into the low teens any day the temperature was below about 40 F, which is to say about 80% of the school year. Many days, I would try to start “my” car to get to school, only to have to abort and walk.
    *Upon re-reading, I realized the traditional use of the feminine “she” or “her” to describe a vehicle (often used with boats) could be construed as sexist. I don’t care.


  8. Amy Robertson Post author

    Appreciated the electrical tape to permit the car to flip-flop in its political affiliations.

    As for the feminine pronoun, I always thought (based on zero evidence outside the confines of my own head) that that was used for boats and cars because the owners, captains, drivers, etc had a sort of human-like relationship with the vehicle in question, elevating it from “it” to “she.”


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