A slope-backed Cutlass Salon much like this one was owned and driven by one of my fellow high school students in the early Nineties. It was blue and in amazingly good shape (from the outside, anyway) when he got it. I had always assumed it had been a hand-me-down from an older relative – perhaps a grandmother or an aunt, but since I wasn’t even on a first-name basis with him, I never managed to get the story. What I do remember is that one of my friends in particular referred to it as resembling a “big Citation”. The phrase “big Citation” still makes me crack up in present day, only because it actually kind of fits. I wonder what ever happened to that car.
When I spotted the above example, I was on a commuter train from downtown Chicago to the affluent suburb of Hinsdale for a job interview. I was in my second month of unemployment after my previous employer of over ten years had laid off my entire department. Needless to say, and though my position’s elimination was through no fault of my own, I was feeling like such a loser during that bleak time. As I looked out the window at this ’79 Salon base-model coupe (of which just 8,400 were produced that year out of about 564,000 Cutlasses total, and against 278,000 Supreme coupes; in other words, just 1.5% of total Cutlass production), I suddenly identified with the Salon’s own loser-dom. To quote that Jimmy Cox tune, my favorite rendition of which was delivered by the great Nina Simone, Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.
As this train pulled away slowly from this station continuing toward Hinsdale, I made a point to straighten up my posture a bit in my seat on the upper deck, taking note of this Salon’s hunched stance. This Salon was clearly a winner, though, having made it over thirty years by that point in such fine, apparent shape. Somebody loves you, Baby.
Friday, January 21, 2011.