When I was young my granddad drove a green Nissan Datsun. It was a putrid, mint green. The interior was smoggy and relentless, as close to umber in tone as you would wish. As a complete unit it wasn’t too dissimilar looking to a chocolate lime.
The carpet, the same off brown as the seating was a thick shag pile, all gnarly and knotted holding a damp, oily mildew under the fingers. It had caught, in its web over the years rusty screws, loose change, hairpins, sweet wrappers, the sort of detritus you might expect to find rattling around in a typical, old family runner. These objects however were securely woven into the fabric creating a precise carbon dating of the vehicle for any future archeologists that might happen upon this anthropological gem.
In the school holidays I’d sit on the back seat whilst my granddad ran errands. I always thought, when he told me we were going to run an errand, of an exotic place where I would witness new and exciting landscapes but it was usually just Woodley precinct or the high rise flats where my aunty Hilda lived.
On one of these particular errands I had brought along a packet of strawberry Hubba Bubba. Upon lodging a piece into my mouth I quickly grew disappointed with the flavour and unable to stand the synthetic, saccharine burst I took the fluorescent pink wad out of my mouth.
As my granddad careered round corners and swerved up curbs in his usual fashion I struggled in the back, sliding from one side to the other. Trying to keep a grip of the seat with my childish thighs and hands I let slip a grip of my wretched blob of sticky bubble gum. It jumped across the seat and sprang forward into the matted brown jungle. In a desperate attempt of retrieval I nudged it deeper into the brown unknown. It tangled wildly and gladly into its new home. I yanked and pulled, uprooting clumps of sticky pink and brown fur, but the more I struggled the more the gum assimilated with its new environment.
From that day forward my granddad’s car had two distinct odours – the thick, comforting smell of stale cigarettes, cloaking the upfront interior with the territorial pride of a feral street cat. And in the back, the oozing sickly sweet smell of strawberry Hubba Bubba.
My granddad’s sighs could not keep my glad heart from leaping. Despite the frowns that gathered neatly above his kindly eyes, I was left with a gluttonous sense of pride. A warm feeling from the bond I believed my granddad and I now shared, represented in the mingled, wreaking odours that our bad habits had imprinted on that green Datsun forever.