Lua Vanessa Aspasia Himmelblau

One hears it said that Americans, or modern people in general, are far too attached to things and possessions. I am with the people who observe that most people are actually inattentive to things: accumulating them is not the same as cherishing them.

I’m a flake, I admit it. I named all my handbags back when I still carried such things. They all seemed to have distinctive personalities, and I appreciated their service. The same goes for at least some instruments of music (a guitar is pretty person-like) and any complex piece of machinery that you interact with. My first computer, who had a habit of going haywire right from the beginning, was Lucrezia Borgia; the second (a hand-me-down from my Republican Albino Ex) came to me with the name Ronald Reagan (“insufficient memory at this time,” I said). The third was a cheerful Dell whom I named Brother Juniper. The Cute Engineer finally built me a custom job and I call him Sebastian.

Naming your car is a bit more mainstream, though it seems to occur more in novels than in real life (Peter S. Beagle, in The Folk of the Air, dubbed his hero’s bulky van Madame Schumann-Heink, after a chunky opera singer who was once heard to protest “Mein Gott, I haff no sidevays!”).

I had two intransigent American hatchbacks early in my driving career, Valeria Desesperanza and Esclarmonde de Foix. When I latched onto a well made, genuinely new car it took a while for me to figure out what her name was, but one day “Melissa” popped out of my mouth. I never became aware of any secondary name. She was and is Melissa; loyal, gracious, stout-hearted, old now — nearly twenty-three — and, I sometimes detect, hanging in there more through nobility of spirit than anything else. I stroke her dashboard when I am starting her up, especially on cold mornings, and lately I have taken to explaining that I will get someone to help her out soon.

I still felt that I had to talk to her a little when I brought home the new car. I have a twentyish friend who can afford a car or insurance, but probably not both, and I can kind of imagine the old girl enjoying one last fling with a young fella. I think she is OK with the idea. He’s coming by to look at her tomorrow.

Meanwhile, after several suggestions and a couple of tentative ideas of my own, the new one informed me this morning on her first mission that she wanted a rather grand pan-European name incorporating one submission from Azahar, the name of a Barber opera whose waltz motif has always haunted me, the name of the woman who many say was the model for Socrates’ Diotima (“the stranger woman”) and… well, the dealer says her color is “Celestial Blue.”

I think they look like family.


12 thoughts on “Lua Vanessa Aspasia Himmelblau

  1. They do look like family! And I’m impressed at how well Melissa looks for her age.

    When I first moved to Sevilla with Lua I noticed how the sky was a lighter and clearer blue than up north in Salamanca where we used to live, and on fine days I’d look up and say, “the sky is as blue as Lua’s eyes”. Though I think I forgot to mention that although she was very pretty she was also the crankiest thing on four paws I’d ever met. So you may want to reconsider…

    • Aspasia, who was temperate, wise and capable, is there to balance off that quality. I kept looking at the blue color and thinking of the picture of feline Lua that you linked, and it just stuck with me.

      And Vanessa (in the opera at least), though a bit of a Gothic heroine, has endurance.

  2. They do indeed look like family. And I spent about fifteen minutes the other day in Ahazar’s photo gallery, shrieking like a two-year-old at the kittens! The kittens! The leetle Siamese kittens! But that’s a different topic.

    I believe my Honda is slightly hostile to me, and I don’t think it wants a name. I also think it is a male car or possibly transgendered. It’s always seemed somewhat uncomfortable with me, though it displays a grudging respect.

  3. For a while my husband supplemented his assistant professor’s salary by doing (when he could get it) free-lance work in opera. It allowed us to subsidize a lot of fun things, like a new roof. Everything in our house had a grand name, including the “Burning Fiery Furnace” furnace.

    It replaced the over-achieving furnace that clearly came with 1940 house (Mike Mulligan style). We used to lie in bed and when the furnaced kicked on, my husband would say: Prepare for takeoff.

    Surely a nickname will emerge for your car. You can’t always be so formal.

  4. My nearly twenty-two year old Cherokee would die of indignity and shame if anyone ever gave it a name. In the unlikely event I ever sell it, I shall have to interview prospective new mates closely to ensure this never happens.

      • Oh, absolutely. We got it instead of a minivan just before our first child was born. My sons drove it in high school. I drive it every day now and hope to keep it (though not drive it) until I die. No names, though. It will look at me funny and probably throw off a tie rod on an icy road in self-destructive protest if I try such a thing. It’s part Canadian, you see, and is tortured by its innate inability to decide whether to be metric or SAE.

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