The Alfa Romeo Spider was a part of our family from the time I was riding my bicycle with training wheels, to the time I was old enough to take the wheel myself. And it was the first car I got to own. It was a huge honour and a great responsibility, and I considered it an act of dad’s trust, which could not be breached. And so, to campus I drove in the dear old Spider.
It was 20 years old, so it had its antics, which only made it all the more endearing, because I had to get to know it like I would a person. Once that rapport was established, only I could drive the Spider. Any “stranger” behind the wheel would be stumped at the first traffic light when the engine died and refused to start again (because the air-conditioner was left running while the car was stationary).
I felt like I had tamed the Spider. I knew precisely how hard to pump the brakes, how long I could leave the wiper running before it would fail, and the exact spots where the convertible’s soft-top leaked when it rained. And I always kept an eye on the temperature gauge.
These Italian idiosyncrasies were predictable and oddly comforting, rather than disconcerting, thanks to the special bond I shared with my Alfa Spider, which was older than I was.