September 1992 On the used car lot, among the Volvos and other ho-hum vehicles, the red Mustang convertible lifted its head and promised boots and saddle, independence, adventure.
Newly single, I arrived in Oregon from the east coast—and a city with an incomparable subway system—eager to own a car after years of being a passenger in the family station wagon. It was also a chance to re-invent myself in the West.
I had a part-time job and an apartment, so I recruited a new friend to drive me to used car lots to search for a car. It must have been all those Saturday afternoon cowboy movies my mother let me take my younger brother to because once I spotted the Mustang, nothing else mattered.
However, a few things did actually matter: having put the “horse” before the cart, so to speak, I wasn’t able to drive the car since I didn’t have a driver’s license. My friend obliged and soon the red Mustang was parked below my window. At some point that night, reality returned as I realized without a driver’s license I couldn’t purchase insurance on that red convertible that was at the moment sending out “steal me” messages. As a consequence, I might end up without a car and minus what I had paid for it.
Next morning, I’m on the phone to the used car place asking to return my Mustang. You guessed it: the response was “You bought a car, lady.” I’m sure the salesmen are laughing still. So my friend again drove me to the lot in the convertible, and I began to beg to at least exchange the Mustang for something less lethal for a new driver to handle. Did I mention I had also ignored the fact that in Portland it rains most of the fall and winter and well into spring?
The end of this story (in which I tell myself I temporarily lost my mind): I exchanged the red Mustang convertible for a white Ford Escort, most likely an ex-rental car, and after a dozen drive school-lessons scored 100% on the written test with compliments on the behind-the-wheel portion.
September 2023 Having recently watched all five seasons of Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone, I forgive myself for the Red Mustang Mistake. Who among us wouldn’t want to be that young woman, slim-hipped in her Levis, girl and horse moving as one creature, audacious and hell-bent around the barrels, racing for the joy of it as much as for the prize money?
Marcia Silver has been a full-time resident of Manzanita for 10 years and a happy volunteer at the Hoffman Center for the Arts in the Writing Program and the Gallery.