It's not about the house.

Friday, January 22, 2010

More or Less Bunk, Part IV: The Road Has Been Too Long

Well, folks, we've upped the tally. Poor Dumb Kitty --

(a.k.a. Dodo; real name Wilson) 

-- is this close to losing a toe. Got out in a snowstorm, ripped a nail trying to pull open the door (door opens in; can't say he didn't come by that nickname honestly), and now it's... Well, let's just say "gross" and leave it at that. Doctor says if he had his druthers he'd just take the toe right now, but Dodo is 16 years old and there's a good chance he won't survive the anaesthetic, so we're trying to avoid that if we can. Maybe when there's a definite outcome I'll write the whole story, and maybe it will be hysterical, but in the meantime just add two droppers of amoxicillin to the seventeen-pill total I gave before. Johnny says all the boys in the house are sick and all the girls are healthy. I say that's because us girls aren't out carousing in the middle of the night and licking at ourselves. Not anymore.

And yet, I soldier on!

(continued from the previous post...)

So everyone agrees the new car's great. Runs great, gets great mileage, doesn't have any rust or dents (not yet, at least, but at this point in the story I've only had it for a week). My dad's doing a Don't-Worry-Be-Happy dance at how reliable it is, and both of my mechanics have turned cartwheels. Everything is good. The car is great.

But boring? Oh my god, I'm driving the equivalent of orthopedic shoes. They may be the best thing for your lumbar structure, but they sure as shit ain't gonna get you laid. This is the first time in my life I've actually memorized my license plate before I got towed or had to call one, because it's the only way I can find the damn thing in a parking lot. Toyota Camry, feh! And not only is it a freakin' Mom Car with no personality at all, it -- okay, "she" -- is also the same green color as every other car manufactured between 1995 and '99. If there's one thing that this car is not, it's me. So how the hell was I going to name it?

Okay, "her."

(I don't know how the hell the mechanic sexed her, but maybe it's like when Dirty Boy sexed baby chickens: maybe you just have to know the spot to squeeze. Hey, speaking of which, we haven't had a look at Dirty Boy in a while -- and doesn't this seem as good a time as any for a little pick-me-up?

...ah, that's better. Now where was I?)

I've always driven shitbox cars. I simply do. I've never been able to afford a decent one, for one thing, and for another I don't really see the point. Even if I had the money, why should I spend $400 a month on payments, when I could spend less than that on insurance for a year? I mean, yes, towards the end there Chuck (TFT) was costing us the equivalent of a car payment every couple months, but that's why we took him out back and put a bullet in him. Never let a stranger shoot your dog, I always say.

Actually, we didn't. But that story's slated for, like, two installments down the road. And I've never really had the stomach to pull my own trigger on anything, although I would have liked to plug Veronica. Oh my god, but did I hate that bitch.

Ooh, that reminds me: I'm supposed to be talking about names, here.

See, I try to name my cars after a song I hear on the radio the first time I turn them on. And I do mean radio-radio, no cheating -- it's not like any of 'em ever had a working tape deck or CD player, anyway -- but I do allow myself a little wiggle room. It has to be a real name-name, first of all. Calling my car "The Wanderer" or "The Mess Around" would be ridiculous.

Rule two is that the name has to match the sex. Can't go calling a boy car Roxanne or Maggie May, else you'll wind up having to fetch him home from Harvard Square at 3:00 every Saturday and Sunday morning.

My first car was a boy, though, and he was named for "Alice's Restaurant." I don't know why it came on the radio right then, considering my parents bought old Alice for me as a college graduation present, so it had to have been May or early June. But there you go. I decided it was fate. And I also decided it was perfectly acceptable for him to have a girl's name, because if Alice Cooper could pull it off and still scare the pee-pee out of mothers everywhere, then why not a '79 Buick Regal two-door in diaper-brown? And sure enough, in his brief life Alice did more than his share of pee-pee scaring -- especially that one night, racing to make it back to Harvard Square by midnight, doing 90 on the work-zone Pike between altogether-too-close suicide rails. But poor old Alice blew a head gasket eighteen months after I got him, and the mechanic said we had to put him down.

That's when Veronica came along. '81 Dodge Diplomat in black. Looked like a police car and acted like a pig. Went through alternators like a good old boy throwing beer cans out the window, and leaked power-steering fluid even after I replaced the entire steering mechanism piece by piece. Well, all right, I didn't do it. The mechanic did. First (and last) mechanic who ever tried to call me "Honey," too. Hated that fucking cunt. It was just a coincidence, but the longer I owned her the happier it made me she was named for a song with the lyric "You can call me anything you like, but my name is Veronica." As you can see, I called her all manner of other things besides her name.

She was still hanging in there just to spite me when my Grampy Jim died, and the whole extended family agreed I was the one most in need of his car. At least, that's the story that I came away with and I'm sticking to it; if there was any dissent in the ranks, I would really rather never know. 1980 Chevy Impala, four-door, sort of a faded yellow. Or she started out that color, anyway. I had her for about a year before I made a bad left turn and got her all bunged up. Totaled her, as a matter of fact -- shifted her whole front end an inch and a half to the left (although you should've seen the other guy) -- but for sentimental reasons my dad paid for the repair. Mostly. I was supposed to swing the paint job but I didn't, so for the rest of her life she had a black hood and a slate-blue front right side. Cecilia was her name, although in the eight years I drove her she never shook my confidence or broke my heart. Not until the day she finally and irretrievably gave up the ghost, and I literally chased after her on the flatbed wrecker down the middle of the street.

By this time Johnny and I were living together, so with Cecilia's passing we got our first "new" car from George. A grey Chevy Astro, '86 or something like that. I don't remember. It seemed so sexless and obscure after Cecilia, I never had the heart to learn its name. I don't know how long we had it, either, or even really how it came to die. Just that it had a bad distributor cap, so it used to leave me stranded when it rained.

Same with the next one. Not the cap, I mean: the anonymity. Some stupid, giant-ass, Ford E-150 souped-up pleasure van. George didn't find him for us, Johnny bought him from a friend, and I half-heartedly dubbed him Babe the Blue Ox 'cause he was. But I can't say I was sorry when he failed inspection one year later on account of you could see the asphalt whizzing by right through the floor.

Then came Francine, and I already told you about her. She wasn't named for a song so much as for Ms. Reed, the Very Fine Lady who sang (among countless other things) with Lyle Lovett and his Large Band. The first time I laid eyes on that old Caddy I just knew she was the kind of ride Ms. Reed deserves. Check it.

Right? She got me excited about naming cars again, Francine did. Then POW! and along came The Fucking Truck.

So that brings us right around back where we started. To me, waiting to hear what sort of propaganda my anonymous Japanese Lady might preach to me through the radio.  

You didn't think I could do it, did you? But I did. Nearly 1500 words with absolutely no plot-development at all! That's got to be some sort of record, don't you think?

To be continued...


HPH said...

So look, you have a car that was built back in the mechanical heyday of Toyotas. Back before recalls and sticky accelerators. (Do you call them Toyoletts now??) A car that won’t leave you stranded and whose boring, frumpy personality could be with you many, many years. It is your sworn responsibility (hate that word) to give her a name that will put curves in her wheels and a shine on her front grill. NO FRUMPY NAMES. It’s amazing what a hip name from a loud song and a few colorful decals can do for a gal. Go forth, embrace her drabness and make her spirit shine!

DonnaStaf said...

I thought for sure I saw a contest coming...

ege said...

Oooh, I completely forgot I used to do those! All right, the New Car does already have a name, but I'll think of something to contest real soon.

Oh, and HPH, I'm not so sure you'll be happy with the name I chose...

Anonymous said...**

ege said...

Oooh, Anonymous, you almost got deleted because you look like spam -- but at the last minute I saw the "hitler" at the end (which, oddly enough, I do not see anymore) and realized where you were sending us.!

I actually registered Dodo with them a few years ago, but it was so long ago I don't remember my code name or password anymore. Hm... Maybe that should be the contest!