I got my first driver's license on the morning of my 16th birthday by rockin' 100% scores on both the driving and written tests. With the biggest smile ever, I proudly drove my red used 1981 Dodge Colt hatchback to school right after I was handed my temporary license. Thinking back, I probably left my stunned and emotional mom in the dust after I peeled out of the DMV parking lot without even looking back or waving goodbye. Freeeeedom!
Even though other kids at school got new BMW's, Fiero's, Integra's and Suzuki's with stereo systems that cost more than my car for their birthdays, I was totally grateful that my mom bought me my little red Colt. Plenty of friends I knew would only dream about getting a car in high school. This car meant new found independence, no longer taking the bus or walking to/from school, driving to my favorite beach (the hatchback was perfect for beach chairs), driving wherever I wanted, learning how to drive a stick shift, and well, you know, I was beyond happy.
Sure, I wanted to be able to park in the Hey! My Rich Parents Bought Me A Brand New Car parking lot instead of the Mom's Hand Me Down I Have to Work Nights To Pay For Gas Don't Mind The Minor Dents alternative lot. But, those rich kids with their new fancy cars didn't appreciate how lucky they were and raced around and crashed those flashy shiny cars and got more dents and scratches than celebrity diva drunk drivers. No thank you.
I will admit, though, the one disadvantage of my car was that it only had AM radio. I could barely afford gas, so I certainly couldn't buy a new car stereo. So, I listened to the only station I sort of liked that wasn't talk radio...oldies. Oldies meaning the 1950's and 1960's. These decades were absolutely foreign to me, as I grew up listening to 1970's folk music (think James Taylor and Joni Mitchell). Suddenly I'm exposed to Buddy Holly, Temptations, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Beatles, Elvis, Righteous Brothers, Supremes, and the Beach Boys. This was not exactly what I had in mind as a sixteen-year-old who was just handed the keys to independence.
At first I was rather annoyed (after all, I was a teenager), but once I started listening, really listening, I became more and more familiar with the songs and artists. I (gasp!) actually started singing along and discovering my favorites. I'd hear myself exclaiming "ooooh, I love this song!" and be-bopping around as I drove. Then, I noticed the oldie songs would be in movie soundtracks, diner jukeboxes, and be remade by current artists. I recognized them! I had a new appreciation for the talented and innovative artists, catchy tunes, and groundbreaking sounds. I was won over.
As soon as I could afford it, many many months later, I finally bought a new detachable face car stereo...with FM radio and everything! Amid my excitement as I watched my shiny new stereo being installed, I had a brief moment of "aw, bye bye my sweet happymiss AM radio, you were good to me"...but then...then the stereo cranked out a U2 song and there were tears...tears of sweet modern music joy!
**yes, that's me around the age I got the FM stereo (I was too busy driving my car to take any decent pictures of it so this is the best I can do)