Lately, our minds have cast back to the winter of 2003-2004, when a certain vehicle — eventually to be known as “The Biscuit” — came into our lives.
Michael and I were fairly newly married and we’d moved to a 2 bedroom apartment in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, where the alternate-side on-street parking restrictions were loose enough to convince Michael he’d be willing and able to move the car from one side of the street to the other twice a week. And he convinced me I wouldn’t have to worry about it.
Shortly after taking possession of the car — which we bought online through CarsDirect.com — we made an extended road trip to Texas for Christmas via St. Louis, where we visited my aunt and uncle. Later, he carried car seats for the first time when my brother and his family visited.
Little did we know we’d be nearly retracing our big road-trip steps in less than a year, when we drove across the country with my loyal cat on my lap, to our new home in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was before this move that we purchased the Thule car top carrier that made him so recognizable.
That next February, we made an impromptu President’s Day trip to Yosemite, staying in a tent cabin and encountering far more ice and snow than we would have imagined. The Biscuit wore snow chains for the first and only time of his long storied life.
He became known as “The Biscuit” during our time in California, when both Michael and I read the book “Seabiscuit” and agreed that our vehicle shared at least one characteristic with this famed race horse. Neither one of them looked like much, but, when power and speed were needed, they kicked in and brought them. Michael remembers driving along Highway 1 along the California coast — a beautiful route he carried us on a few times — and seeing the shadow of the car on the sheer cliff on our right, as the sun shone in the West over the Pacific. The shadow looked like a horse running alongside us — Seabiscuit showing his true equine origin.
Callum was born when we lived in California, and he came home from the hospital in our faithful Biscuit. Rory did too, after we moved back to New York and settled in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
The years of New York living were tough on The Biscuit. While still a young car, he got into a little scrape (with Michael behind the wheel) in Chinatown, and, later, he was broken into. At one point, a careless car or street-sweeper driver got a bit too close and tore off the driver’s side mirror. He’d seen better days.
Finally, Michael and my brother, Jay, drove The Biscuit across the country for the last time, as we moved to Central Texas in 2010. It was a good environment for his later years, when he acquired a brother (a Chevy Silverado pick-up) after my father passed away. It was the first time he’d not been our only family car, but I think he enjoyed the occasional rest.
His bright red color and car-top-carriered silhouette, along with the Scotland flag sticker and the Panthers Football decals, made him a standout figure in the small town we moved to. Everyone knew it was Michael (or occasionally, me) when the Biscuit made an appearance. He got waves and greetings and was easily recognized in the elementary school drop-off lines where he was a regular fixture.
One of those elementary school drop-offs didn’t go according to plan, however. I got a call one morning from Michael, who let me know the Biscuit had been rear-ended along the route to school, while both boys sat in the back seat. The impact was strong enough to push the car into the vehicle ahead of him, too, making for quite a spectacle and traffic delay in our small town that morning. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured.
That was the end of the line for The Biscuit, and the insurance company soon confirmed it — he was a “total loss.” The tow truck showed up on Christmas Eve after we’d said our goodbyes. He was a good car and served us very well.