Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Probably Angered A Witch Doctor Somewhere

I was never that interested in gardening. I've always gotten bored and dusty when I've tried it, despite the fact that my mom really likes it and my grandmother and uncle are god damn obsessed with it. I'm really more of a plant killer, honestly. I'm a good cook, and the very basis of that is killing plants.

For the past four months or so, though, I've been killing cars. And you can't eat a car. Not very easily, at least.

It started around February, when Tabitha, my 1996 navy blue Oldsmobile Cutlass, decided to overheat right outside of Becky's old apartment.

You should really see this car, it's a beauty. It's unfashionably blocky, pockmarked from a hailstorm or two, speckled with rust spots. There's a scratch down the side. The interior is made from the same cloth as hospital robes. The radio (which included a tape deck that nearly always had Steely Dan's Greatest Hits wedged into it) was installed improperly, so rather than displaying the time of day, displayed the amount of time you had been driving through a complicated "always starts at noon" mechanism. I'm pretty sure that something was dead under the hood (aside from the water pump! oh!).

But for realz ya'll, the water pump was broken. That, combined with routine maintenance and the repair of all the things fucked up by my engine overheating, cost about a grand to repair. So I paid it, got my car fixed, and was okay with it. I mean, I never seem to have that much money: I'm essentially a secretary, I pay rent, and I like to spend a little extra on food and alcohol when I can. I absorbed this cost nonetheless, because I really loved that car.

Then the head gasket broke.

A head gasket malfunction is the cardiomyopathy of the automotive world. You can get a transplant and survive, but it's prohibitively hard to do, and might not work. I had to take my car to a tiny garage down on the fringes of Chapel Hill, where a man with a cast on his arm sat behind a desk and estimated that I would pay $2,500 to fix the gasket, at which point I decided to let Tabitha go and buy a new car.

I was sold a 2003 Dodge Intrepid SE by "Ben," a mustachioed charmer of a man who, in his throaty, comically-Middle Eastern accent, relayed a story he had told his son, apparently recently:

"Never marry a beautiful woman, because she won't be yours. Marry a rich ugly bitch, and take all the money you can. Ehhhh, I need to shut up."

He also did bits from Borat with one of his fellow salesman, and this was wierd because he sort of talked like Borat already. It's felt like it would if Colonel Sanders did a Foghorn Leghorn impression--funny, but not for the right reason.

I like my Dodge Intrepid. It has low mileage, a CD player, airbags, etc. It's a pretty good, regular-ass car, which is what I want. I'm a regular-ass guy and I can't afford one of those Japanese cars anyway.

However, this past Friday the old Dodge Intrepid decided to downgrade itself from "regular-ass" to "suck-ass." I was driving some friends back from a night of debauchery when Alison remarked that my windows weren't working. Then I noticed that my air conditioner wasn't working. Then I noticed that my turn signal wasn't working.

It was fucking hot. I spent a huge amount of time on Saturday sitting in my hot car, trapped on Hwy. 54, with my shirt off, opening the door at every red light. And on Sunday, it worked again. And on Monday, the same stuff started happening, only this time with a clicking noise to accompany it.

I calmly drove the car down to the Carrboro location of Chapel Hill Tire where they looked at me blankly and told me that they couldn't get me in until Friday. They also told me that it might be a fuse problem. I don't think it is.

But it's cool. I called the Franklin St. location, who told me to take it in this morning. There, a sciuridine man told me that there was nothing they could really check, and that, if the problem returns, I should just sort of jiggle the key in the ignition and hope for the best.

So essentially I learned that my current car problems are undefinable and probably interminable. Is it my aura? Am I learning about my wizarding heritage by accidentally breaking things? If that's the case, why haven't I turned my desk into a walking version of itself yet?

Incidentally, Tabitha is still parked by my apartment. I haven't gotten up the stones to give her to the Kidney Foundation yet.


Remi said...

Jeez, Joe. Have you considered calling The Car Guys?

(I am lucky that I get to drive someone else's relatively-new and trouble-free car.)

Alison said...

CAR TALK! oh man, remi has the right idea. you should have a party on saturday morning where you call click and clack and get them to tell you what the fuck is happening with your car

Remi said...

That would be hilarious. You should definitely have a party and call Click & Clack (the Tappitt brothers)