"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman
Monday, August 02, 2004
stories about cars
this started out as a completely different post. it started out as the corsica christmas story. but the intro material got so lengthy that i knew no one would make it to the corsica part. so i wondered how to organize it all. and i realized that a lot of my recollections involve automobiles. i've already shared one and a half of them here. i'll get to the rest, i hope, with some semblance of entertainment value, and before the details and facts grow rusty. but in what order to reveal these anecdotes? first, let us get the early years out of the way.
i seem to spend a lot of time in my car. or at least i used to. now my commute to work is 15 minutes, tops. but i used to spend a lot of time in the driver's seat. i like to drive, so that's ok. i don't like to ride, though. i am an uncomfortable passenger. i never know what to do with myself if someone else is driving. i can't wait to get out. if i'm driving, then i'm doing something, i'm in control, i have a purpose, a mission, an objective. if i'm the passenger, i feel like a third wheel (excuse the bad humor) - like i'm just baggage.
until recently, my car sound system was better than my home sound system. this should say something about my priorities. now i have the 5.1 home system, but i almost never use it. i still listen to about 40% of my music in my car. i'm that guy sitting in the parking lot at his destination waiting for the song to end. yeah, that's me.
btw, next lottery winnings go towards the kenwood auto 5.1 surround system. damn skippy.
like lovers, some cars are more memorable than others. my first car is still my favorite. it was a 1976 datsun b210 named yaz pistachio. the only car i ever named. other cars could stop on a dime. this car could do a u-turn on one. i miss that car. i'd trade any car since to have her back, in all her four-speed glory. my two favorite memories of yaz are driving through upstate ny with my best friend, and parking on the side of the road with liz monahan while peter gabriel's 'i go swimming' blared from the tape deck, watching liz play air drums for all she was worth. any guy who doesn't fall in love with a girl playing an air instrument has no heart, and worse, no hope of ever having a soul. it's an indiputable fact that there is nothing more beautiful than a woman caught up in the passion of music, except perhaps a woman caught up in passion itself.
a gazillion years later i had a nissan sentra. a steel car. the last real metal car i owned. it was spoils from the battle of marriage. it was originally my wife's car, a five speed, inherited from her sister. but the wife could not drive a stick, so when i bought an automatic hyundai from wife's uncle, we traded cars. at some point both cars fell into my name. shortly after we separated she seized the engine in the hyundai, leaving me to pay the wrecking costs. but before that, for a brief while, the sentra became my home. hotel nissan. i spent a few weeks in the winter of 1997 sleeping in truck lay-by's off the long island expressway. now my legs go completely to shit on cold damp days.
i had only two cassettes with me during those weeks; if you know me at all you will understand that that was more tortuous than the weather. to this day portishead's dummy and genesis' calling all stations have unusual associations for me.
the nissan got a new trunk shortly after ex-sister-in-law bought the car new. she and would-be husband went to the drive-in theatre (go ask yer momma) one night while would-be wife and i watched tv with future mom- and dad-in-law. sister-in-law and beau came home early. seems they'd had a fender bender. at the drive-in. somehow they'd managed to kick off the parking brake and roll back out of their parking space into the car behind them. seems they couldn't reach the brake. on account of they was in the back seat.
do you know how hard it was to keep a straight face while sister-in-law related these facts to daddy, while beau got tinier and tinier?
the nissan got me to virginia and back to new york countless times during 1998. i lost a headlamp to a deer (who survived with less damage than the car), and eventually lost the whole car to wear and tear.
but this story wasn't supposed to be about any of those cars. it was supposed to be about another one. to ease my way back into the social circles of the blogosphere, i leave the order of the telling to you. i will eventually get to them all, but the choice is yours as to which tale comes first.
there is the honda, of which part of the tale has already been told.
there is the ford explorer.
there is the chevy corsica.
all of these vehicles are gone now, but each has a story of a rise and fall, complete with blood, sweat, and tears. your choice. i'm only the piano player.