The world isn’t always a kind place. I know that. Today was a particularly heavy news day for me. Sometimes the stories you hear just hit you harder and the case of Hassan Al Kontar is one I feel helplessly connected to.
Which is why hearing Friday’s episode of CBC’s As It Happens was so timely. The podcast was all about a mint condition 1986 Hyundai Pony for sale in Quebec for $15,000 and chronicled the rise and fall of this economic Korean vehicle in the Canadian market.
For those of you not familiar with the Pony, this commercial will give you an idea.
In high school and my first years of university (1996-2002), I drove a silver 1984 Hyundai Pony. Its features included a manual choke (think of starting a lawn mower), a sweet cassette deck, a cup holder, carpeting throughout and rear defrost. All of which were directly marketed in their advertising campaign (CBC’s As It Happens). Nevermind frivolous accessories like power steering, digital clocks or heat that worked, this Korean marvel of the 80s had exactly what my family and a lot of Canadians wanted – it started (most of the time) in the winter and it was cheap!
Now, my parents must have bought our used Pony in around 1987. I can remember riding shotgun with my tight perm, backcombed bangs, and Fisher-Price Sun Jammers thinking I was “like, totally rad” in this ride. Flash forward to 1996 and I became the lucky heir to this family treasure.
My friends and I dubbed this vehicle, “the 80s-mobile” and we kept all the original cassettes my father got for 99cents from joining Columbia House. Taylor Dayne, Billy Ocean, REO Speedwagon, Tears for Fears and Sade were amongst the stellar artists whose tunes were blasted on our daily commute to school.
By this point, the Pony was a little worse for wear. You had to open the door with a coat hanger because the handle fell off, the passenger side seat was falling through the floorboards and it seemed to drip antifreeze or some sort of greenish blue liquid onto my foot while driving.
The car didn’t do well on ice; I may or may not have slid up on a curb a time or two. The car didn’t do well in snow; we got stuck nearly every new snowfall and my friends and I would have to dig the Pony out. Every January my parents got me a CAA membership and one year I remember using up all the free tows by the end of the month.
But what that car lacked in practicality, it made up for in character and in stamina. The Pony was near its end many times but it kept running long enough to be passed on to my sister and sold to a lucky stranger after that for $200.
Nostalgia is funny.
It distorts the way things really were. I’m sure when I was stuck in a snow bank for the 10th time in a single month I wasn’t thinking of how great my crappy car was.
Nostalgia is a privilege.
You can look back fondly even in the difficult situations you had only because you have a hopeful future. And not all people have this privilege.
That’s why on this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend I feel thankful to laugh with Shaun over stories about my 1984 Hyundai Pony.