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The Home Team / The Subaru's last ride

Published 1:23 pm, Saturday, April 6, 2013
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It seemed like a no-brainer.

Nana, about to turn 90, announced her retirement as a driver ... bringing a collective sigh of relief to the rest of the driving and pedestrian population of the Philadelphia area. Her 8-year-old Toyota Corolla would wind up in the Land of Misfit Cars -- also known as our driveway. Matt and Greg live in NYC; their cars are parked in our driveway. Robby goes to school in L.A.; his car is in our driveway. So is my car. And Carol's car. And the family SUV. You remember how we were taught in driver's ed that the majority of your accidents will occur within two miles of your home? Well, most of ours occur backing in and out of our driveway.

Carol and I had been forced into adopting a new policy for the Herman Parking Lot: New car in, older car out. If Nana's Toyota was to join our fleet, another vehicle would have to leave.

All the math pointed to the Subaru. The Subaru is 16 years old. It's got 69,798 miles on it, and most of those were hard miles racked up by teenage male drivers. Turn the key, and it sounds like a bike with baseball cards in its spokes.

The Toyota, on the other hand, has a grand total of 8,420 miles -- all of them accumulated gingerly by a very cautious grandmother.

So yes, a no-brainer. Still, I wanted to run it by Matt. Even though Carol and I technically own the Subaru, and even though it's our driveway, the Subaru is really his car.

Matt said he couldn't argue with our logic. But that he was still a little sad.

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. Matt has a sentimental streak, much more so than his two brothers -- neither of whom, I'd be willing to bet money -- will even notice that the Subaru is missing.

The Subaru was his first car. It was his only car. He drove it as a high school football jock in Westport. He drove it as an undergrad in Hartford ... and as a graduate student in Boston ... and as a young professional in Manhattan. He drove it with several different girlfriends. He drove it on countless trips to Vermont in the winter, to Montauk in the summer.

When Matt got the Subaru as a high school junior, Bill Clinton was president. It wasn't Carmelo Anthony who was starring for the New York Knicks (Melo was a high school student in Baltimore back then), but Patrick Ewing. Matt's little brother Robby, now a sophomore at USC, was a devilish little 4-year-old, and Ricky the Beagle wasn't even a gleam in Mama Beagle's and Papa Beagle's eyes.

On a recent Sunday night, Matt drove the Subaru over to the Greens Farms train station one last time, on his way back to the city. He got to say his goodbye.

A few days later, Carol sent him an email, saying she was thinking about the Make-a-Wish Foundation as the Subaru's final destination. The Make-a-Wish charity is a big favorite in the Herman family, largely because of its heart-warming segments about kids and athletes we always see on ESPN. "I feel like the soul of the Subaru belongs with these kids," Carol wrote.

To which Matt replied:

"As the primary owner of this Subaru that I didn't pay for, I authorize you to choose the charity you feel is most deserving of a car that for 16 years was unassuming, always-welcoming, loyal, lovable, and dependable. Well, until the brakes and engine stopped working. And it seems like you're leaning toward Make-a-Wish, and I agree with that. Please let me know what you end up choosing so maybe I can go visit one day. I'll miss you, Subaru! But you're going to a better place."

"The Home Team" appears every other Friday. You can also keep up with Hank's adventures with his dog, Ricky, on his blog, "Beagle Man," on the Westport News website, at: http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/ To reach Hank, e-mail him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.