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Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's Not the Years, It's the Body Damage

From winter, 2010.  Thought we could all use a blast of cool air -- perhaps coming up through the floorboards...

We bought a 14 year-old car last summer. It’s nothing exciting, more of what we call a “grocery-getter”. It’s a small car, a humble car. There is no worry, with this car, that you will be approached by someone pretending to like you just to get to your money.

That’s why we got it. We’re flying under the radar over here.

The mechanic described the engine as being in “great shape”. And so far, bless him, he’s been right.

The years have been good to this car, engine-wise.

You know what that means, don’t you?

That’s right. The car's disintegrating.

The driver’s side window, for instance, comes off its track if you roll it down more than three-quarters of the way. This is not, as you’d imagine, a problem in the winter. Interestingly enough, however, it was quite a problem this last summer, when we broke the switch that turned the heat off.

It was 94 degrees outside.

And we had the heater on.

It was the Summer of Talcum Powder.

I finally gave up on winding the window down and simply pretended that the car had air-conditioning.

After a while, you don't even notice.

The safety belts have gotten in on the fun as well. The passenger-side restraint, for instance, was seemingly designed to pull out only far enough to securely strap in someone weighing under 80 pounds. If you jiggle it properly, however, and if you can really suck in your gut, it eventually releases enough to be used.

Funny how often the ability to suck in your gut is part of the answer.

Then there was the damage done this past fall when the four-door, lane-wide Cadillac next to me in traffic slid off its axle and destroyed the right-side headlight and turn signal.

And now?

The three feet of plowed snow up against the garages in the alley, having been rained on, frozen, and then melted down to the leaden consistency of an embassy’s barricades has evidently acquired a cruel intelligence and has begun randomly attacking passing cars.

At least that’s how Willie describes it.

He has no idea how both sides of the bumper have been shattered. He does recall, though, "sliding softly”, he says, into a glacier after being forced in that direction by the deeply grooved ruts in the alley.

The bumper’s right side, made of only the highest quality plastic available, was ruined. He shimmed the headlight in with two pieces of wood.

Two weeks later, the left side suffered a similar fate; and its headlight was shimmed by use of three pieces of wood and a shoelace.

“Really?” I said. “What, are we out of duct tape?”

“I have no idea when the left side got wrecked! Just all of a sudden I’m walking out to my car and there it is!”

“So you think maybe it happened in a parking lot?”

“Well, noooo,” he drawls. “I did find the pieces in the alley when I took the garbage out…”

Ah ha! So he does have an idea how it happened!

Well, it is a 14-year-old car. Nothing lasts forever.

And she still runs like a top.


Eva Gallant said...

We once had a car like that! It was a tank! An old Chevy that survived the abused heaped on it by 3 teenage boys!

Simply Suthern said...

I have 14 yr old car. 237000 miles. Everyone wants me to get a new one. You deserve it they say. I think they just want me to have car payments like they do. She gets me to work. The windows and heater switch both work and the AC is cold. However, now that I now listen to books on CD if the Disc player goes south I may have to trade her.

Silliyak said...

But you are a hardy people

Sioux said...

I had POS cars before (pieces of "sheet") and although people would stare, I'd be smug in the knowledge that it had been long ago paid for...in cash.

One I had I called "The Rattler." It would continue running and shaking and rattling after I turned off the ignition. That one WAS a bit embarrassing, but if I turned it off and ran quickly away from it in the parking lot, not too many people saw me...

Daisy said...

Well, as long as it runs! Ha! :D

We've owned a couple of cars like that.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Think of it this way - having been cooked to a turn in the car, you can let the flesh rest in the high summer spread...

Gotta love a good little runner. &*>

jenny_o said...

"It's not the years, it's the body damage."

This is exactly what I say to myself when I look in the mirror!

River said...

Better put in an order for the BIG box of duct tape. Wrap her up good and proper, that car will keep collecting your groceries for years.

Gigi said...

Haven't we all had a car like that? They could take a lickin' and keep on tickin'...unlike these modern cars...you look at them funny and they are destined for the scrap heap.

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

It may be nice to have a nice looking car but is more important to have a car that doesn't spend more time at the mechanics then it does with you..........how a car looks is not as important as how a car goes

Geo. said...

Inexplicable damage while parked? Hmm, from whom did you buy it? Could it have been the used car of Dorian Gray?

Indigo Roth said...

Sounds like my kind of car. It works. Having to put fuel in it is pesky, but not an actual design flaw. Apparently.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You've totally described the Momvan. I'm wearing hats because my hair doesn't handle no A/C well at all--the wind makes me a wreck!

Pat Tillett said...

We had a car much like yours. It was an old beat up VW bug. Not only did we drive the heck out of it, our three oldest kids all learned to drive in it and then took it over as their car. They did it in succession and they drove it for about two years each. We did require each of them to get a part time job for gas money and insurance. When the fourth kid was ready to drive she said she hated it, didn't want to learn to drive in it and didn't want to be seen in it. We said okay and sold it. She then asked us what she was going to do for a car. We simply replied that we just sold her car.