Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Two weeks ago on a Friday night I was going to pick C. up from working a late shift. As I hit a light, these two teens pull up next to me and start revving their engine like they want to race. Now first, they were driving an old Honda Prelude that had seen better days. Second, and most important, I was an "older" (than THEM!) woman driving a friggin Nissan Ultima for cryin' out loud. What were these children thinking? I had to chuckle to myself when the light changed and the kid went to stomp it - and promptly stalled out. If you're going to drag race, you should probably know how to power shift.

It brought back memories of my most favorite car. I loved my Z. It was the first real car I ever purchased myself - a 1982 Datsun 280 ZX, automatic everything, 5 speed with a fuel injected straight six. At first I wasn't too thrilled about the color, but then I realized how unique it was. There wasn't another one like it anywhere around. And hey, I got a great deal - it only had 2,000 miles on the odometer! My father, of course, was livid. You see, I couldn't drive a stick shift at the time. I was 18 and it was also my first major purchase without consulting him. Didn't matter though. I loved that car, and hey it didn't take me long to learn to drive it, despite all his screaming at me.

I was fearless in the Z. When you stomped on the gas the hood would rise in the air and the back end would dip as the engine strained to respond. Man that was a cool feeling. I have lots of great memories in that car, like my 21st birthday. Well, OK I don't remember too much about that other than I didn't drive, but instead stood up out of the T-tops as we were driving through downtown. There was some yelling and stuff involved, too, but this post is not about my 21st birthday. I learned things from that car. For instance, you can pile 6 teenagers into a 2 seater. The only thing I wasn't completely crazy about was the fact that the car talked. It could be a bit disconcerting if you weren't prepared for it. This really calm woman's voice would say things like "fuel level is low" (every friggin 1/8th of a mile until you filled it!) and "your door is ajar" out of the blue. Spooky sometimes, especially after a few drinks (yeah, I know stupid, but I was young and invincible).

I washed and waxed that car every weekend without fail. Real cleaning, too, not that spray with a hose crap I do to my current car when the pollen gets thick and I was watering the garden anyway. I'm talking Armor All inside and out, tire cleaner, rim cleaner, special glass cleaner, carpet fresh stuff and a thorough vacuuming. It took me at least a couple of hours. After I was married, the first time, I even replaced all the carpeting in the Z. She was gorgeous. I ended up putting about 125,000 miles on that awesome machine.

Unfortunately I made a few mistakes during that time. The first was marrying my first husband. The second was listening to him when he said that with that many miles on it, the car was bound to die soon and cost us a lot of money. What a moron I was. Had I researched it further, I would have known that those cars could go 200K - 300K or even more with good care. SO I let him talk me into selling it with the condition that we find a car I really liked before letting it go. After test driving several sports cars and finding something wrong with every one of them, much to his chagrin, I began to like the Toyota Supra Turbo. One day he called me at work and told me to meet him at a car dealer. He had found a Porshe 911 that was a deal. It was ridiculously priced because it was an automatic. Automatic for cryin' out loud! I wasn't having any of that wuss crap. Why would one have an automatic Porsche? We decided to go to lunch, I'm sure so he could talk me into it. By the time he had, reluctantly though, we went back and the car was sold. He never forgave me. I was secretly doing the happy dance inside.

Finally I narrowed it down to two Supras. Once was ice blue, the other was "plum," as they called it, but really it was dark purple. Call a spade a spade. Hubby called me at work one day with a surprise. He bought my car! I told my secretary I'd be gone for the day and headed home. I couldn't believe he bought my car without consulting me on the final choice, but he was controlling that way. I didn't care, I was just curious whether it would be ice blue or purple. I got home and he was waiting in the parking lot. "Well......." he said in anticipation. "Well what?" I saw no Supra. I saw nothing but my beloved Z. and a bunch of other nondescript vehicles. "What do you think? It's a convertible!" Uh yeah. It was a convertible alright. A convertible Pontiac...Sunbird. 4 cylinder. To this day I think he was trying to get me back for the Porsche incident. The best news he had for me was that he had a buyer for the Z and a check for the downpayment. All I had to do was sign the title and the guy would be back to pick up the car and pay the rest. Oh how I wish I had stood up to him and refused to sell that car. I cried all through the sale process. What it would be worth today I can only imagine. I'm not talking monetary value, I'm talking about worth to me. It was a symbol of my independence which I lost in that marriage and many successive relationships. I'd love to have that car back.

The Z would be appalled if she could see how I keep cars now. It's rather disgusting, and I can only think that it's an acting out of sorts derived from the trauma of letting my beloved Z go. Wash and wax every week? Honey, PLEASE. The only time my cars get cleaned out are when the trash reaches seat level. Now, of course, I do have an excuse. I gave birth to two of them. What children do to a car, no car lover should have to witness. There's a reason most families keep one vehicle "kid free." I must admit that #1 Son is good about cleaning my car out - when I ask him.

Last week my car began smelling like a dumpster...literally. Seriously. No joke. I did what I do best. I rallied the troops and was able to utilize my "you ride in it, you crap it up, you can clean it" speech. That one always motivates them (not really, but it always makes me feel better). Off they went to clean out the car. I outfitted them with plastic gloves, as I recommended that they actually go beneath the seats this time. I am safety conscious afterall. They grabbed several trash bags and my vacuum and were out the door. Below is a partial list of things found in my car during this most recent assault on "Funky Town," as my car has become known:

2- 5 inch diameter plastic Lincoln nickels
7 pounds of petrified french fries
9 ink pens (one exploded) in the colors of black, blue and 1 red
4 partially melted crayons
5 Happy Meal type toys
a bag filled with a small plastic milk jug that had exploded in the heat (there's your smell)
Numerous school papers from as far back as 2nd grade. The Little One is in 4th. You do the math.
3 pounds of pop tart crusts (the Little One doesn't eat the edges, only the part with fruit in it)
A half eaten 7-11 hot dog
2 "scented" magic markers
A mummified half eaten apple
2 coloring books (when is the last time that kid used coloring books? Years at least)
Enough candy wrappers to wall paper my great room
A crumpled book on Lincoln that I used last semester - good thing that class is over, I was wondering where that book was.
Various socks and clothing items
5 sports water bottles, but only 2 lids.
Enough cups, napkins, bags and wrappers to stock a fast food joint for a week.

Again, that's a PARTIAL list. Let us just say that after days of airing out and an entire box of Carpet Fresh (and two vacuumings), things are starting to get back to normal. At least I can drive the thing now without hanging my head out the window like a Labrador.

The Z would be appalled. And she would have kicked that Prelude's ass.



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Name: Cattiva
Location: Virginia, United States

About Me: I'm the mom of three: #1 Son (20), The Princess of Wails (17) and their baby brother - The Baby (6). I was a grad-student working on an MA in history until we were surprised - I mean blessed - with The Baby. I'll get back to it...someday (the thesis, not the kid - I have no choice concerning the kid). I am one of only a few people I went to school with who is actually using their history degree in my career (and to think my Father called it Basket-weaving!). I live a very hectic life amongst massive clutter. I call it a good day if we have managed to get home at night without losing one of the kids (no matter how hard I try!). Friends say I have a humorous take on life's happenings. The sad part is that what I write about is true. I laugh to keep from crying.

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