Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cuban Cars, the Antidote to Auto-Agnosia

One of the many things I worry about is my inability to identify cars. I lie awake fretting that I might one day witness a crime (A heist, a gangland shooting, money laundering) and actually see the culprits escape in a getaway car, and then be completely unable to identify the getaway car. I would be the one witness to this crime and I would be unable to help solve it, unable to help justice be done, and unable to bring the perpetrators to justice. I would fail my fellow citizens, and all because I don’t know cars. Other than red from green, and sedan from station wagon, I cannot distinguish models or makes. I am hopeless. I suffer from auto-agnosia.*

But in Cuba, even I could tell that the cars are very old and American. And the ones that were not very old and American, were also old but made in Russian or Bulgaria.We won't go there. In Cuba, I made a point of trying to read the logos and hence distinguish a Buick from a Chevrolet from an Edsel, because in Cuba, that seemed like an important thing to do.
Also in Cuba, the cars came in wonderful colors, real colors, not the pathetic excuses for colors (the muted maroon, the muted forest green, the shabby grey) that inhabit the highways and parking lots of New York.

In Cuba I thought about cars more than I have thought about cars in the entirely of my life outside of Cuba. I thought about riding in cars that were manufactured when I was in kindergarten. I thought about breathing the fumes of these cars that date back to the Middle Ages. I noticed that a certain Eastern European car has a logo that is deceptively like the BMW logo, and do we think they did that on purpose?
We wondered what would happen to all these antediluvian cars when “normalization” comes to pass? I wondered if someone in Cuba would like to acquire CSB’s 1947 Chevy truck that resides, inert, in the back field.

* I am basing this word, which absolutely should be a word, on prosopagnosia or face blindness, from the Greek for face, “prosopon” and for not knowing,”agnosia”.


Lizzard said...

Do you suppose it's the perfect commentary on our modern life that all cars look alike now and the only thing that distinguishes them is the logo?
Now that the borders have been open, we can say good-bye to Cuban cars and probably cigars!

Webb Rowan said...

I'm glad I work in the car financing industry, I get exposed to all sorts of cars every day. Definitely not as flamboyant and unique as some here, but enough for me to start recognizing some of them at least! Haha!