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THE PRINCESS AND THE BEETLE
Story by Lois Grace



Once upon a time, there was a handsome white Beetle (with red basket-weave interior) who lived with a nice Princess and her husband, in a small house in the suburbs. The Beetle was named Bogart, and he shared his garage with an equally handsome blue Single Cab named Vernon.

Bogart had been another lady's Bug until the Princess bought him and took him to her house in 1975. Bogie was very happy there, as the Princess was retiring her Single Cab truck from daily driving duties, and had bought Bogie to take Vernon's place. The little Bug was so reliable and fun to drive that soon the Princess and the Beetle were driving everywhere: they went to the beach, they went shopping, they drove back and forth to college. They even took the Princess' husband and went on a summer vacation to the Grand Canyon! The loyal little Beetle was very proud of himself on that trip, as the husband's battered blue Bug, Humphrey, was not up to such a journey. But Bogie knew the Princess counted on him to get her around on her trips safely, and return her home reliably. And he did just that, for many, many years. And life was good.

As both the Bug and the Princess got older, people teased them about their close relationship. Why don't you buy a REAL car??, asked one of the Princess' BMW-driving friends. "Sooner or later EVERYONE outgrows a Volkswagen", said another friend, after selling all of her own. The comments continued but neither the Princess or the Beetle listened. It didn't matter to them that everyone else was driving a mini van or a Yuppiemobile or an SUV. All they knew was that they still enjoyed each other's company and the friendship they had built over the years. The Princess lavished attention on her Beetle, rewarding him for his reliable miles with new Michelins, a hand washing (without soap of course) and wax (Meguiar's, also of course), or perhaps a tune-up. Bogart got only the best. When he needed a fill up nothing would do except for the premium, highest-octane gas the Princess could find. The cost of such premium fuel was not cheap, but the Princess knew if she used bargain gas Bogie might get sick. So she spent a bit extra each time to give him the best she could find.

The years passed quickly, so quickly that the Princess did not realize that Bogie was getting tired. He still started and ran enthusiastically, but bad things were going on under his deck lid. She took the same thorough care of him as she always had but life for both of them was soon going to change. As with most friendships, Bogie and the Princess had had their share of ups and downs, but with good mechanical care Bogie always recovered, much to the Princess' great relief. Little did they know that all their miles had taken them to an inevitable conclusion: a burned piston. Not seeing that something was happening with her faithful little friend, the Princess and her husband eagerly packed Bogie with a picnic, preparing for a long drive to the BugORama in Sacramento. It was on the way home from this VW event that the Beetle could take no more. He tried and tried and tried, but the darned piston would not obey him. On a long, steep hill on the 6-lane freeway, the piston said "BOOM!" inside Bogie's engine. Bogie himself said "POP!" in a loud and insistent voice, making the Princess tummy do flip flops. She turned to her husband and said "What is wrong with my Bug?? He just popped and now is barely able to keep going! Oh dear, what will become of us?? What will become of BOGIE???" While one might not think a 6-lane freeway the ideal spot for a Beetle breakdown, Bogie had chosen it carefully. There was room to pull over and look inside the engine compartment, and it was still light (darkness would not arrive till the three got home). Like the loyal and reliable friend he was, Bogie drove the remaining 45 miles to the Princess home, knowing that if he delivered her safely there, she would make sure he got the best of care. And so it was that with only 3 pistons working the Princess and her husband arrived home in the weak and weary Beetle.

The Princess did get the best care for her Bug, and his engine was fixed to the proper specifications. Once more they motored happily along for many years. The Princess loved her little car so much that she even had a special engine built for him in 1995, as a reward for all his faithful service. (It was also because the Princess knew that his tired old engine was ready to blow again, an effect of just being worn out) Bogie loved his new engine, it was quick and quiet and so smooth! The Princess loved driving him. Then one day she drove a friend's Golf. She didn't think she cared for the radiator or the many other water-cooled things about the Golf. She didn't think she liked the very non-Beetle styling of the Golf. But the air conditioning (something Bogie didn't have) was wonderful, and the Princess was getting old and grouchy in hot weather. The Princess began looking for a Golf for her own, but she didn't tell the white Beetle. She didn't know for sure if she'd get a Golf and didn't want to upset her old friend in case she didn't.

Bogie found out about the Golf when a red 1990 GTi pulled into the driveway behind his spot in the garage. "Who is this??" thought Bogie. "Surely she can't be serious, it has a RADIATOR!", thought Bogie. "Maybe it's a borrowed Golf", offered Vernon, helpfully. And then it dawned on both of them: the Princess actually intended to DRIVE this Golf every day and leave BOGIE at home! The Beetle was crushed. He never thought the Princess would abandon him like this. He wondered if he were going to be sold now that she had a newer, air-conditioned sports car to drive. He wished his new, fancy engine were something wild, something with not one, but TWO carburetors so the Princess would love him again. He despaired for his future.

The Princess knew nothing of all this, of course, as Bogie had not told her how he felt. It didn't occur to her that he'd think she would actually not want him anymore. She was, first and foremost, an air-cooled VW fan, and didn't think Bogie would doubt that for a moment. She went about her business, thinking Bogie was safe and happy in the garage. He was safe, and in the garage, but he was not happy.

And then, one bright sunny day soon after this, the Princess raised the garage door and the bright light came streaming in. "Come on, sleepy head! Wake up! It's time for us to go for a ride!" she said as she took the Beetle's cover off. "I hope you don't think that because I have the Golf now you can get away with not taking me places anymore," she told him. "I love driving you and would miss you terribly!" The Beetle brightened, hearing her words, and started right up, just like the old days. The Princess got in and backed him carefully out into the driveway, and the sunshine. The warmth felt good on his cold deck lid, and as he began to warm up they zipped off down the highway. The Princess told him that while she did enjoy the Golf and was very impressed with how it drove (and how fast it was and how great the A/C was to have on hot days, and how well it cornered,and how, after all, she really did think it was a rather cute little beast), it was not a Beetle and she just wanted him to know that she could not live without at least one Beetle. She continued on, telling him how she intended to drive him at least once a week, because she didn't want him getting the arthritis that Vernon got from sitting idle so much. She said she was hoping Bogie had not worried that he might not be good enough for her anymore. Bogie was still her one and only "Bogey-man".

The Beetle never again wondered if he'd done something to upset the Princess, or if she didn't love him anymore and was just going to park him and forget him. He knew that, like Vernon, he had become more than just an old Beetle to the Princess. He had become "precious metal", too precious to risk driving daily on the freeways of the large city where the Princess lived. The Golf would take over that duty, and while Bogie sometimes felt sorry for the Golf because of this (he figured Golfs had feelings just like he did), he was happy to snooze in the garage for a few days each week while the GTi took over commuting with the Princess. He never again doubted the Princess feelings and continued to adore her, and she him. He felt he was a very lucky Bug to have been chosen that day, way back in 1975, among all the other VW's that were for sale then. All those VW's and the Princess picked him! He chuckled to himself as he thought of this, then snuggled down deeper into his car cover. It had been a busy day, and he was a bit tired. Once again life was good, and they all lived happily ever after.

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