About 10 years ago, a good friend of mine was going through a nasty divorce and, in a successful attempt to piss off her husband, sold me (for a thousand bucks) the Range Rover he'd bought her instead of an engagement ring.
I was stoked. A five year old Range Rover was a huge step up from my geriatric Volvo wagon that smoked, drank and passed out cold in the street every so often - usually during rush hour when I was on my way to work.
In a fit of early 20's irony, I named my shiny new Rover Nigel - and aside from the occasional overpriced British breakdown, he ran reliably (which, for a Range Rover, is unheard of).
Despite having only 11 inches of clearance, Nigel tore up dirt roads - I never met a jeep trail that Nigel couldn't take - most of the time without even heating up his engine, and he still looked good in Beverly Hills even when he was really dirty.
I tied all kinds of things to his roof, stuffed him full of all types of work gear, estate sale finds, lumber, electronics and in one memorable day - three cheap 'street corner' area rugs and a full set of patio furniture.
Over the years, Nigel's paint faded from a snappy British Racing Green into sort of a just puked pea soup with a side of rust flakes - I never had him repainted, though. I still loved him - faded paint, torn stained upholstery, non-working rear windows, cracked dashboard - even the occasional part falling off as Nigel got older.
A few days ago, his engine died, and Nigel left me stranded on the side of PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) in Malibu.
I got the bad news from Mike the Mechanic (yes, that's really his name). To get Nigel running again will cost about twice what he's currently worth - and since Range Rover didn't make big changes to their body style for over 10 years, Nigel's worth more in pieces than he is as a whole. Mike hooked me up with a local junkyard, who gave me a surprising amount of money for Nigel.
The flatbed took Nigel away yesterday. I went and cleaned out all my stuff (My CD's, the mini disco ball hanging from the rearview mirror, an "Austin Powers" action figure under the seat that I thought I'd lost) and said goodbye, then stood there in the middle of the street, watching Nigel get towed out of my life.
I'll miss you, Nigel. It's not going to be the same around here without you.