French Chic & Slim
News and Opinion from Anne Barone to Keep You Chic & Slim
7 Febuary 2016
Wonderful One-Hoss Shay / 4-Cylinder Camry
My grandmother was fond of reciting Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay (The Deacon’s Masterpiece). A shay is a carriage, an American mispronunciation of the French chaise, a light pleasure carriage pulled by one horse. (Some of Jane Austen’s characters rode around in a chaise.) In the Holmes poem, the well-designed and well-built shay endures for a hundred years, then it "went to pieces all at once, and nothing first, — just as bubbles do when they burst.”
If I were to update Holmes' poem, I would write The Wonderful Four-Cylinder Camry. Recently, my faithful 23-year old Toyota Camry, like the Deacon’s shay, has gone to pieces “all at once, and nothing first, — just as bubbles do when they burst.”
She has been a wonderful car. Her age now is 23 years, a venerable age for a vehicle that has required few parts replaced — none of them major. She was a much-appreciated gift from one who wanted to help the Chic & Slim effort succeed. Not new when I received her, but well cared for and all parts in good condition. From our beginning 14 years ago, there has always been something regal about the car’s behavior. So I christened her Empress of Japan and called her EOJ, pronounced ee-oh-jay in my best rendition of a Japanese accent.
All four times when her problems were so severe that she had to be towed to the mechanic’s shop she managed to get me home and into my own driveway. Then she sensibly refused to start until repaired. I was never stranded on the roadside or in traffic.
This past Wednesday when EOJ once more made it home to the driveway and refused to take me out in traffic again, I knew the Empress wanted to retire. Just to make sure I understood her message, she dumped a little puddle of coolant (very poisonous to cats) on the driveway. Thursday I purchased a new car.
In the USA, particularly in the region in which I live, we are so dependent on personal transportation that our vehicles become partners in our lives and work. Certainly the Camry was a partner in mine. In the days when I was shipping the Chic & Slim books myself, she hauled hundreds of pounds of books from the freight depot to my home. The Empress served me — and by extension, you, the Chic & Slim readers, very well. Merci EOJ.
image: Merci also to the unknown contributor who shared this old, out-of-copyright postcard via Wikipedia. And merci to the shay owner and his horse who posed for the photo those many years ago.
be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone