That time when August reached out to smite me in new and tortuous ways.
(Originally published August 14, 2006)
Back in the spring of 1997 when I was driving to meet my husband for a camping trip, my little red Ford Mustang, the car my parents gave me when I turned 17, the car that was completely paid off, began smoking from the steering wheel.
So we took it into the dealership to get serviced, and being the young, inexperienced, newly married twenty-somethings that we were, we accidentally gave off vibes that said, “we might, at some unspecified time in the future, be interested in purchasing a new car,” and thus we became magnetically bonded to a salesman named Rocky, who did not leave our side for the next six hours, until we departed with not just a newly repaired Ford Mustang, but also a new Ford Explorer.
The next day we of course COMPLETELY FREAKED OUT because that was the biggest purchase we had ever made in our lives, and holy cow, what in the world had we just done?! But eventually we calmed down and realized that we could still afford to live in our apartment, and we would not have to stop eating, and everything was just fine.
Fine for us, that is. Apparently, in the Explorer’s mind, our little episode of Buyer’s Remorse was STRIKE ONE against us.
But we didn’t know this at the time, so we just continued driving happily along. Sure there were a few rough patches along the way, like the whole “Firestone Tire Debacle”. Remember that? I certainly do, because for like an entire year every single conversation I had with my mother began by her saying, “So, are you still riding around on the tires of death?”
So we replaced the tires, and then we moved into a house with a garage so the Explorer got to live inside under cover, and it was all good.
But then in 2001 my husband decided to purchase his uncle’s Z car, and because this car was sort of a work-in-progress, it was awarded the Explorer’s spot in the garage. So now the Explorer had to live outside again in order to make room for this new young whippersnapper of an automobile, and it was seriously pissed. And that was our STRIKE TWO.
So the Explorer decided to take those long, lonely nights outside and use them to plot against us. And for two years it watched, and waited, and planned, and then in the summer of 2003 it struck back at us by filling itself up with The Most Repulsive Odor Ever Smelled By Human Beings.
There truly are not words to describe just how vile this odor was. It was so bad that it was an actual physical presence that surrounded the car and bodily repelled people away from it. No one would go near that car, and on the occasions when we had no choice but to drive it somewhere we were shunned, because we smelled just as bad as the car did.
And the Explorer laughed its maniacal, evil-genius laugh.
But eventually my husband and I regrouped, and we decided to show that car who was boss by completely stripping it down to the bare metal, like so:
We wiped down every single surface inside that car. We took out every single piece of fabric and steam cleaned it.
And finally, stripped of all its defenses, the Explorer gave up the source of the odor so we could repair it. And ever since then we have all lived together in a reasonably peaceful coexistence. Until this summer, when the car turned on us again. I have no idea when, or how, or why this happened, but apparently we have earned our STRIKE THREE.
This time the Explorer has decided to use the time-honored technique of Divide And Conquer, meaning that when it’s just me this car acts like all those pretty, popular girls in high school who couldn’t be bothered to even acknowledge your existence, much less scrape off from the bottom of their pointy designer shoes the scum of the earth who is you. But when my husband’s around it turns into cute, sexy, flirty girl, the sweet Southern belle of the ball, who is nothing if not completely caring and giving, and who is deeply wounded that you would even insinuate that she ever acts any other way. Bitch.
So this is what my summer has been like.
I go to run an errand in the Explorer.
The car starts fine and takes me where I need to go.
I come out of the store.
I attempt to turn the car on.
The car glares at me, says, “What-ever,” and goes back to idly flipping through a fashion magazine while pointedly ignoring me.
I call my husband.
Me: “G-r-r-r, STRANDED, aarrgghh, HATE, (howling), EVIL, (unintelligible angry noises), DEATH!”
My husband: “I’ll be right there.”
My husband arrives.
The car sees that there is now a man present.
The car: (blushing, batting its eyelashes, and twirling its frilly skirt) “Aw, did you come all this way just to see little ole me?”
The car starts instantly.
And did I mention that the car waited until the summertime to enact its evil plan, a time when it is approximately 587 batrillion degrees in Atlanta AT ALL TIMES?!
But last week the car made a fatal error. You see, it was waiting at the airport for my husband, who unfortunately had chosen to return to America from a completely different country on the day that all those bad people got arrested for their plans to do bad things on airplanes involving bad substances in liquids. So after a very long and thirsty day of traveling he arrived at the car only to find out that it had now decided not to start for him. And he finally saw it for the lying, two-faced, trashy car that it was and he took its ass right to the repair shop.
But not the one where Rocky works. Because we don’t really need another car. Once we slap the Explorer back into submission we’ll be just fine.
Wait-did you hear that? It sounded like…someone laughing.