Happy New Years Everyone!
In keeping with my inner-geek, I started a New Year’s resolution early. I have decided to use my blog, at least in part, as a venue to do “chapter-by-chapter” releases of works I have “in progress”. So for next little while Musings of the Flirting Impaired will feature, “Sequel Mondays”, as well as ” Ugly Volvo Wednesdays” (One can only imagine what I have in mind for Fridays…muwahahahaha).
Unlike Survival of the Flirting Impaired, and its sequel: Bride Elect (Evolution of a Bridezilla), the writing featured on Ugly Volvo Wednesdays is NOT a memoir. Sure it is inspired by true events, but it is really a personal satire, and the satirical exaggeration is so frequent and intense that my departure from reality is distinct (and for some a little scary! HA!).
So without further verbosity, may I introduce my first fictional work: Crazy B*tch (Memoirs of a Lemon Lover In Recovery). Please comment, and share nicely with all you know (especially if you know some literary agents, or Oprah Winfrey)…
Crazy B*tch (Memoirs of a Lemon Lover in Recovery)
Prologue—Welcome to LLA (Lemon Lovers Anonymous)
My Uncle once described me as “a DAMN good driver”, and his uncle once told me that I “back up just like a man!” In my family that is very high praise–especially once you place any chauvinistic metaphors into their respective socio-historical perspective. My mechanic loves me–and not just because I spend thousands of dollars at his shop annually–but also because I am one of a few female clients who is savvy enough not to fall for the first blinker-fluid salesmen I meet. Ergo, every single, bank account leaching, repair on my car is one that I thoroughly understand, and is proven justifiable.
I am the circus-freak equivalent to that gorgeous, straight, human being who remains mysteriously single–or even the sweet, smart, and financially stable human who falls prey to gold-digger after gold-digger. I am an enigma–and not in a wholly affordable or romantic way.
Hi, my name is Elsa, and I am addicted to crappy cars…or at least I was…this is my journey to recovery.
It is hard to say when it all started. Any good therapist would try blaming my parents, but that is just dadness wrapped in insanity and it couldn’t be any father from the truth. (Freudian slips not withstanding.) My dad is very mechanically inclined, and ever since I could remember, he was extolling the virtues of his favorite car. Granted, he was usually under the hood of his car, or chatting up the guys at the parts desk of the dealership while he was doing so. Nevertheless, I guess you could argue some imprinting took place. He loved the imports—particularly the ones from Sweden. Among the many other things I inherited by the sheer virtue of genetics, I also inherited his proclivity to the Swedish imports. Not unlike a Dr. Suess book, the story of my addiction is resplendent in colours, repetition and absurdity.
Section 1—Black and Blue Car
Chapter 1—“No Kid of Mine is Taking a Road Test on an Automatic!”
I got my learner’s permit at the tender age of fifteen. Some of my friends got their permits earlier, but I just felt too young to do so some how. Finally, after much haranguing, and several bribes (both overt and passive-aggressive), I finally got my learner’s permit, and commenced to learning how to drive—a standard transmission. Many of my friends were learning on an automatic, and their strides were notable. I, however, was striving to pull into the driveway without stalling. Did I say pulling into the driveway? I meant backing into the driveway (and consequently, the garage). Among the other “musts” of my driver’s education, I had to be able to back up the same—if not better—than I could go forward. I also had to log several hours of tractor driving so that I could “see what my wheels were doing” when I was trying to parallel park.
I know it has been said it takes a village to raise a child. Well, by comparison, I would have to argue that it took at least two villages and, perhaps, a goat to teach me how to drive. My dad was the first to start. He had an excellent track record. His distinguished list of students included a couple of aunts, an elderly neighbour, and my two older cousins. All former students went on to become excellent drivers—and all got their licenses on the first try. It was a point of pride for him to teach his own child to become a savvy, and impeccable driver. Suffice to say, I was something of a game-changer. I also, legend has it, inspired some serious, self-inflicted, male-patterned balding.
I think the biggest difference between me and my dad’s former students was the car used in said lessons. I had the dubious honour to learn the art of driving on the first version of his dream car. In the past, while he had his dream car, he also had other “clunkers” to use on his students. By the time I came along, the clunker cars of the past had expired well beyond their shelf life. So, as others looked on with a repressed sense of resentment, I got to enjoy my driving lessons using dad’s “dream car”. It was an experience rife with lectures about the corrosive evil of un-wiped finger prints, heated rants about the smell of scorched clutch, and, my favorite, lectures about how I should treat the cars around me like nuclear weapons manned by lunatics. I found out later that I was the first one to enjoy that lecture series. The others before me had to make do with out it—lucky bastards.
As it turns out, shifting wasn’t so horrible. I grew to enjoy it—eventually. I even learned the highly coveted technique of starting on a grade without the use of a hand brake. I was no natural talent, but as far as efforts towards any endeavour reliant upon my coordination skills, shifting was not as much of a “train wreck” when compared to my past efforts with jumping rope, riding bike, and track and field events. With each driving lesson, my dad was smacking is forehead less and less. There was a glimmer of hope that in time we could actually progress to a place where genuine father-daughter bonding might happen.
Until we reached that moment, however, I had to console myself with warm and fuzzy ‘Dadisms’ like: “Keep driving like that, and you’ll be buying me a new clutch”; “Keep driving like that and you’ll crack up the car”; and my personal favorite “Oh–for fuck’s sakes!”. Our time together was never dull, and the conversation was always…interesting. My dad’s hearing would get all but Vulcan like, and consequently would hear the tiniest little clicks, clunks, and pinging. Each little sub-frequency sound forecasted certain disaster for the car, along with the “subtle” intimation that it was something I did. To be fair, I was never accused by him directly. Instead, he would say things like, “That sounds like the clutch belt slipping, someone must be driving her too hard”.
My dad’s cars were always some unnamed female. All of his cars, clunker or otherwise were always a “she” or “her”. I never really gave it much thought until I heard one of my friends refer to her new car as a “he”. Really? There are boy cars? How…weird! Parents have a powerful capacity to shape and mould reality for their children. Without any other frame of reference, or basis for comparison children readily process the actions, beliefs, and words of their parents as the gospel or cornerstones of reality. I was no exception, in fact I was more of a mutation. Much to my mother’s relief, any semblance of the Electra complex I had was swiftly transferred to “her”: my dad’s car.
I soon grew to hate her. She was such a bitch! Always faking all these little sounds to fake injury– she was totally setting me up! She’d stall in times in times when I knew she wouldn’t have stalled if it had been my dad driving her. Sometimes, while trying to parallel park, she would be a total mean girl and keep me from getting into reverse. One time, while getting into the car, she smacked me down with the door. She made it seem as if it was a gust of wind—but I knew better. My arms and legs were covered in bruises, and many a night was spent crying myself to sleep. Girls can be so mean!
The game-set-and-match, came one night while learning how to parallel park. Both my dad and I had committed ourselves to staying at it until I could parallel park like a robot. It was later in the evening, around ten o’ clock, when I first heard that bitch make sounds not unlike a buzz saw. She kept up with her petty crap every time I turned hard left or right. Eventually steering became near impossible. The power steering hose up and broke, and my dad blew his gasket. Tourette’s people around the world stopped and gaped in envy and wonder at the torrent of swears and profanities that followed. I was disowned, disinherited, and left to walk home. I wasn’t abandoned and left to walk home alone. My dad took the hose off of the power steering, locked the car, and started the march home. He invited me to stand there and cry like a baby provided I be advised that the only way I would get home is by foot. When I looked back at her, she seemed to have a certain sanctimonious smug glow about her. That would prove to be my last lesson in that car. The relief, on all sides, was very palpable. I won’t lie to you, I was pretty tempted to share my celebratory ice tea with her—or at least the equivalent in sugar.