Crazy B*tch (Memoirs of a Lemon Lover in Recovery)
Chapter 9—Stalwart? Well…You May Be Half Right…
The new tires made a world of difference in driving. It was just like summer again—except much colder. Even though the tires went a long way to assure me, I never really got over the well earned terror I had of dark, icy and snowy roads. I gained a very healthy reverence for personal safety: it was the one gift from my dad’s mad plans.
Driving in the winter was reduced to a minimal problem. That left plenty of room for other more challenging problems—not the least of which was starting, and staying ‘started’. The colder it got, the more challenging my starting problems were. At first it was no big deal, I would stall at lights, and most times was able to restart rather quickly. To those who drive standard transmission know that stalling can happen sometimes at lights. Although to be fair, Ol’Bruiser would usually stall before I made any attempts to pull away from the traffic light.
Eventually the stalling also started to happen during turns. Again, this was no big deal during right turns, but downright awkward during left turns. I began to express my concerns to my dad. I guess I must have really loved the way he said “Hmmmmm! That shouldn’t happen!” One time, I was explaining to him the events leading up to the stall. He stopped me at every single opportunity:
“So, Dad, I was driving home along the highway 204 and I—“
“Wait—what direction were you headed?”
“home Dad—I was headed HOME, and—“
“North or South?”
“[sigh] West actually, but like I was saying—“
“Highway 304 doesn’t run East/West”
“I know, that is why I was traveling 2-0-4 and I—“
“You said 304”
“I am pretty sure I said 204, anyway, like I was saying, I was heading west on highway 204 and I started to decelerate in order to turn right, on to our road and—“
“Which direction did you turn?”
“Seriously? I—turned—RIGHT–on—to—our—road and then I no—“
“Were you headed north or south?”
[pounding head on wall] “north, Dad, I was heading north because I was turning RIGHT on to the road HERE!”
“Don’t get lippy with me young lady, if I am going to help you I need all the details!”
“Okay—Okay! First, I drove West on Highway 204 for eleven kilometers, and then I decelerated and down-shifted to prepare for my right-hand-turn north onto Titlting@Windmills Drive, I was approximately 0.76 kilometers south of the house, here, and for no obvious reason, the engine dropped to less than 700 rpm and stalled. It was a clean shift and the engine did not lag.” I spat out that information with the speed and diction of a world class auctioneer.
“Oh…you were driving home—why didn’t you say so from the outset?” My dad was not joking, or even being the least little bit sarcastic. I made little, inaudible, squeaking sounds of rage, and walked slowly and carefully out of the room. It wouldn’t do for me to try and punch a whole through the wall—especially considering I punched just like a girl.
My dad seemed reticent to investigate the problem initially. Since I was able to easily restart the car, he really had no reason to feel panicked. I was, conversely, not feeling the same way. The stalling was not showing any signs of slowing, in fact, it was quite the opposite. Ol’Bruiser was now taking to not starting at all if left to grow cold. In fact, even in times when she was plugged in, the warm blocker heater didn’t seem to have any influence on whether or not the car would start.
These stalling episodes went from random occasions to regular, weekly, effing cold events. There was still a kind of unpredictability about things though. For example, Ol’Bruiser NEVER stalled, nor refused to start when my dad was around—no matter how cold it was. She began to take some kind of spiteful pleasure in making me look delusional around my dad. The closest it ever got to him witnessing her stalling was one time when he turned his back to reach for a wrench on the far side of the workbench, Ol’Bruiser dropped 200 rpm, but recovered in time for him to turn around.
My only viable witness was my mom, she was out shopping one day, and spotted me crouched under the hood of Ol’Bruiser. As she approached, she witnessed the many different attempts I made at starting the car. Ironically, as she reached earshot, the car’s engine exploded back to life. It was an impressive sight, but nothing that would convince my mom that there wasn’t something fishy going on with that car. Sadly, her words of concern seemed to wash right over my dad. If he didn’t see it with his own eyes, then it simply didn’t happen.
His logic made me very nervous. If he ever deigned to transfer this logic to other aspects of my life, then it wouldn’t be long before he would be convinced that I was a drug smoking, bi-sexual, poly-amorous whore. After all, he never didn’t see me not doing those things, therefore, I must be all those things. Huh? My dad’s logic was never really all that air-tight, but it was a one of a kind thing, truly unique in every way!
However, Ol’Bruiser did stray from routine on one particularly cold evening. I was stranded, and there was nothing getting that car started. I tried everything, and then, in sheer numb-fingered desperation I called home looking for my dad. I was hoping that he would be willing to drive out, and show his face so that Ol’Bruiser would roar back to life so that I could get home to my nice, cozy little bed.
My dad did leisurely rush to my rescue. He showed up and asked me, as if I never considered it, to turn the ignition key. To his astonishment, the car did not start. It was a first. Another first was the three grueling hours he spent getting Ol’Bruiser started. It was a hollow, and finger and toe numbing victory.