Happy Hump Day! Today’s Chapter finds Elsa on the cusp of great change (in vehicles). While she is eager to embrace change, she gleans insight to the madness of those who may not so readily embrace change. I dedicate today’s blog to all those who are brave enough to look, and to see, the idiosyncrasies of their parents within themselves.
Crazy B*tch (Memoirs of a Lemon Lover in Recovery)
Chapter 11—“One of a Kind Character Car…$500/OBO”
Now that I had a “newer” car to drive (eventually), we began to prepare Ol’Bruiser for resale. My dad was in his glory—he was surrounded by his dream car—in various ages. He left the chalk board out, erased the X’s and O’s and replaced them with two columns—both checklists of items “to do” for each car. Not surprisingly, Ol’Bruiser’s list was every bit as long as my new car’s checklist. My mom would look at that board with glassy eyes. Then, she would sigh (which sounded more like a sob) and go hide in her sewing room for a few hours.
My dad and I barely noticed as we were both obsessed with our respective missions. I desperately wanted to get into my new car and would do just about anything to make that happen. My dad, wanted to ensure we got to keep Ol’Bruiser for as long as humanly possible—which meant that he was in no particular hurry to finish his work on either car. For the first few weeks, in fact, he spent most of his time just contemplating and adding more items to each list.
I got my “mechanically inclined” on. I pressured my dad by adding a “work schedule” on his glorious chalkboard. I identified blocks of time each day, where I would be available to work on the car. I let him know that I fully expected to have stuff to do during each of those blocks—and not just the fluffy stuff like sorting wrenches. He tried his ‘master negotiator’ skills on me, but was stopped short by my mom. “For the love of all that is holy! The girl is begging to help you get this shit done, and you are fighting her on this? I am going to say this just ONCE: She wants to help you, she will help you, and you WILL give her stuff to do!” My mom’s voice started to crack a little at the end of her rant, and up close, you could see that she was shaking. Her pent up rage was palatable, and not just a little scary.
It only took four months, but Ol’Bruiser was ready to be listed. Or at least she would be once we could agree on a price. My dad originally wanted to try listing it for one thousand dollars—a substantial mark up on a one hundred dollar car. My mom’s left eye started twitching when she heard this. I am not sure my dad noticed, but I voiced my concerns, and since I had had a hand in Ol’Bruiser’s repairs my concerns were carefully considered and, miraculously, accepted. My mom’s facial tick subsided into a bemused smirk as she watched me ‘negotiate’ my dad down to a more reasonable asking price.
My dad had inadvertently created a bit of a Franken-haggle-stein when he took it upon himself to impart to me his “master negotiator” repertoire. Watching the two of us negotiate with each other was much like watching a world-renown chess champion play a game of championship chess with him/herself. I easily anticipated his every move and counter move. My dad was no match for me. In a conversation that could easily last up to three hours with anyone else, I was able to haggle my dad down by 50% within a half an hour.
He was quite pleased with himself, when the first print ad came out. “Look at that! Oh, she photographs so well, and there isn’t another car listed here that even comes close to her. Fasten your seatbelts, and clear the memory on the answering machine: the calls are going to start flowing in!”
The ad itself, was no great shakes. It simply described Ol’Bruiser at her current status, listed a price of $500 (or best offer) and included a photo of the car from one sunny day a couple of years ago. As far as the paint job went, Ol’Bruiser hadn’t changed a whole lot since I first started driving her. That is one of the perks of both fibre-glass and tar; neither one rusts or corrodes significantly from road salt.
The phone did not exactly ring off the hook. Sure, there were a few calls, some didn’t even laugh at us, much. However, if ever one needed proof that indeed there was “one born every minute” need only look to the one person who was really interested in Ol’Bruiser. Now some might argue that this guy could only have been some long lost love child of my father’s; however, I would argue this guy was nothing more than a kindred spirit and possible lodge member of the distinguished order of crazy men.
He pulled into the yard on a motor scooter whose motor sound was reminiscent of the olden days of Ol’Bruiser. The first words out of his mouth were, “Wow! She looks even better in person!” This guy either had an impressive command over sarcasm, or he was a deadly serious enthusiast. He was head over heels in love. I didn’t hang around for small talk, I ran into the house to get the keys for his test drive. If this guy was like my dad, I suspected I might be able to talk him into paying more than the listed price for Ol’Bruiser.
Throughout the test drive, this guy used words like “beautiful vintage”, and “stunning classic” much more than any sober man reasonably would have a right to. My dad rode along in the passenger seat singing a heart-felt back-up to all the praise. I, on the other hand, sat in the back seat holding my jaw in a box. In my near twenty years, I had yet to see something so bizarre, tragic, and yet compelling. Train wrecks had nothing on this experience—not only could I not look away, there was a perverse part of me who didn’t even want to look away.
This guy insisted on buying Ol’Bruiser on the spot. He brought a bungee cord, and with my dad’s help, he strapped his motor scooter to the roof of Ol’Bruiser, and drove away. The whole experience, from start to finish, was nothing short of bizarre and amazing. Watching Ol’Bruiser drive away, with a motor scooter strapped to her roof, was the shiny red bow on top of a stellar day of weirdness. I couldn’t imagine my time with Ol’Bruiser ending any other way—I could try, of course, but I would not succeed.