Patch is Alive!

Posted by on Jun 6, 2006 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I’ve only owned three cars. The first one I bought with what amounted to about half of my life savings when I was a college freshman. The car I purchased was a Pontiac 6000LE (don’t forget those last two letters…limited edition, baby). It was a total hole of a car. We bought it from people we knew, though we were not especially close to. I didn’t really want the car, but I felt pressure because my dad left the decision in my seventeen year old hands and because the people who wanted to get rid of the thing couched it as “helping me out.” So, off I drove in the August heat in my new maroon beast.

Within a month of owning it, I had the carburetor rebuilt. By Christmas, I’d had it rebuilt twice. Then I sunk more money into that blamed carburetor in both February and March. By mid April, with absolutely no savings left, I was starting to loathe that machine. Sure, it was still getting me around Omaha, and Helen too because I used to drive her to work at a day care that was nearby the former ComFed Tower. But something was dangerously wrong with that car. While I would be driving, at a fairly high rate of speed, the engine would just quit. Nothing doing. I would have to (without touching the break) throw it into neutral and restart the engine, praying that it would and that the traffic behind me on I-80 would somehow telepathically know I was a road hazard and proceed with caution around me while I performed auto-CPR.

I’d progressed from the basic knowledge of car resuscitation to a certified engine EMT. When my friends and I would hang out, it was a valid option to take my car because I was that good at it. In late April, when it was still cold out, a bunch of my ridiculous college friends and I drove it over to that stinky lake in CB. After hanging out in the chilly air for a bit, we decided to jump in. I remember having my jeans on (so as not to scare the friends with my pasty white winter legs) and not being able to pull myself back up onto the dock because they were weighing me down. One of the guys actually had to jump back in and push my rear while I heaved myself back up onto the dock (as if wearing your jeans into a lake wasn’t drawing enough attention to my body issues).

If you’ve never been to that nasty little lake, you wouldn’t know that the water stinks…kind of like sewer water or maybe just Iowa in general. Dripping wet and now stinking like sulphur we all piled back into my car and drove cross the river to the dorms. We found our way back in and got cleaned up, but the fabric seats in the Pontiac were stained with the stink.

The next day when Helen and I got in, we both almost choked. It was bad…roll-your-windows-down and be-happy-for-the-cold-blasts-of-air because-at-least-they-don’t-bring-up-bile-in-the-back-of-your-throat bad. By the end of May, the engine was all but gone and one hot (upholstery stinking) day it gave out altogether. No amount of key turning could revive her. I coasted into a gas station and called my dad, who drove me the rest of the way to the Tower. He went back for my car, which by then had chilled out enough to start right up, and he got to practice a little CPR on his way home…with a semi in his rearview (closer than it appeared). We drove to a dealership that night and he bought me my second car. The car I loved.

I know white Chevy Cavaliers aren’t very special. They are everywhere in Omaha. Not so much in Dallas. There are more white Audi A6s here then there are all colors of Cavaliers, but it was super fun to drive after my craptacular Pontiac. It had bucket seats and was kind of like a roller-skate to look at. I could zip in and out of traffic and get great gas mileage. I could park anywhere and not worry about how wide I was or if I was too far in or out of the space. I drove it to Colorado the very first weekend I owned it. Loved. Loved. Loved.

Then one day I noticed a strange smell. Something just a little off. Something not quite right. But I ignored it and kept bopping around town. Then it got worse. Every day. A little stinkier. A little more pungent. Until it was TERRIBLE. I COULD NOT stand it. I’d looked everywhere and figured that the smell was hiding in my air vents because every time I turned the air on, I was hit with a nasty blast of stink. Maybe a mouse had crawled inside or a kitty cat had been all burned up in there. Something terrible must have happened in my air vent!! But I had no way of getting into the air vent and even then I didn’t know what was in there, so I just kept ignoring. Then, one day, I found it. Cleaning out my back seat in a frenzy I reached under the seat and I found IT…an apple, or at least, it used to be. Way under the passenger seat, it had been rotting and decomposing right there in my floor board that whole time. I just couldn’t see it on my rather sketchy inspections because it was shoved so far under that seat and then wedged into the metal cross bar. I got rid of the apple, but the stink never really left.

On the last day of March in 2004, just two months before our wedding, a giant truck didn’t stop for a stop sign and gave my adorable little Cavalier an enema. It was pretty horrific – not just the whole part where I flew up and hit my head on the passenger side sun visor (thanks a lot seat belt! You are only of value if I am flying forward, but no one told me how useless you would be if a huge truck picked up the back end of my car and launched my body vertically) but also the part where my car was totaled. A few days later, my dad took me to get all of the stuff out of it and the back end was crushed so severely that I almost couldn’t get my headlamp out of the trunk. Dad worked a little magic and edged it out.

The man’s insurance company gave me a check for a tiny amount of money that did not allow me to purchase a car of equal importance or value. It was a very small amount, but Jud and I took it and put it toward the down payment on our Olds Alero. We liked the leather seats and he liked the black exterior (although, now I think he may not enjoy the way it looks so dirty so quickly). We bought it in April of 2004. A few weeks ago?…I noticed a smell. I hadn’t been in any lakes and I looked around under the passenger seat REALLY closely, but I didn’t find any apples. I started apologizing for the stink before people even got near the thing. I bought a car air freshener because, you know, if you can’t get rid of something, just cover it up! That will make it go away. The vomit on the ground? Just put a rug over it. No one will notice!! Be sure to make it a fancy rug, though, or they may not be distracted enough visually to stop using their other senses. And the smell grew.

Jud gave my car lots of attention this weekend — new tires freshly aligned, a good washing and vacuuming, cleaned out the papers and crud. And guess what? No apple…just what used to be a sandwich in a ziploc bag wedged between the driver’s seat and the seatbelt. Also, he found his old sunglasses. Just when I thought something tragic might happen to my latest stink mobile, Jud took away the danger and low and behold — a fresh smelling, very nicely handling, clean car. Whew.

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