Ugly Volvo Wednesdays!

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Crazy B*tch (Memoirs of a Lemon Lover in Recovery)

Section 3—Black Car

Chapter 36—They Say His Name Used to be Henrik Fjord…

Being back at square one offered more than just a sensation of de ja vu, it was a sensation I felt intimately familiar with: reluctantly, intimately familiar. I was without a car, and under a time pressure to find another car. My dad was pretty excited about going car shopping again. Gone were the concerns about our beloved import line going by the way of domestics. My dad was convinced that these cars were still being made and assembled in Sweden. He created a theory, more of a hypothesis really, that soon became a hard and fast reality in his mind. My mom just wanted me to find a reliable and affordable car. Her requests were summarily dismissed by my dad, and since I was in the ‘beggars can’t be choosers’, I got sucked into my dad’s vortex of delusion and thus was unable to hear any wise, or reasonable advice.

I trusted my dad implicitly, because I truly believed he had never led me astray before. He taught me everything he knew about cars, and driving. If my dad still believed in our beloved import, then it didn’t matter what stories he told himself, because I knew he knew his stuff. I couldn’t really afford, nor justify, a brand new, straight from Sweden, car. I had my sights set on a used car. There weren’t a great deal of used cars on the market, and our pickings were slim. My dad assured me this was a good thing. First of all, so few cars on the market indicated that these cars were still so awesome that people were hanging on to them. Secondly, with only a few cars on the market, the test driving would be done in a flash.

My dad was right, we were able to test drive every single available car in the city in one day—three cars in total. I had no desire to travel beyond the city for a car. I had time restraints after all. The first car we drove prompted my dad to wax nostalgic about Ol’Bruiser. It was, at its best a “mechanic’s special”. While I was pretty handy, I was really looking for something a little lower maintenance. I figured I could, after all, appreciate the luxury of having a low maintenance car.

The second car, by comparison, was nothing short of awesome. It was a turbo, it had a spoiler and it wasn’t even ten years old. It also had low mileage, a beautiful paint job, and it went really fast! It was very different from what I had owned so far. It was sensible, comfortable, sporty and fun. Both my dad and I felt very encouraged, but we still had one more car to test drive. It was also a little beyond my price range. If I decided to buy this car, I would, for the first time in my life, have car payments.

The third drive was very bland by comparison. It was all sensible and very little fun. It was a mom car, or perhaps even an old man car. There were many luxury features. The seats didn’t just have warmers, and adjustable lumbar support, they were programmable and automatic. They would automatically adjust to any setting I programmed into the system. It drove like a boat, in that I felt like I was floating. I didn’t like floating—it was too reminiscent of being in a roll-over.

We went back for another drive in the second car. I had to be sure. My dad really would have bought all three if he could have. I had to make this decision, more or less, by myself—and that is why I let my dad do all the driving on the test drive. If I drove this car one more time, I knew I would fall head over heels, and likely deploy my dad’s negotiating skills. I couldn’t afford to end up paying more than the listed price for this car. So, as my dad drove, I listened for any little clunk, rattle or pinging that could help me haggle the price down.

My dad, without a whole lot of effort, played devils advocate in this venture. He was able to justify and dismiss every little thing I found. He even, in a bold move, dismissed all the brake dust I found on the wheel wells. He managed to contrive a hypothesis explaining why the dust might be nothing. He really liked this car, and it was clear to me that nothing would make him happier, nor make him love me more, than my getting this car.

To me, pleasing my dad was the holiest of holy deal breakers. With him on board, I had an enthused mechanic and consultant. I had the car of his dreams, which would make him happy. If he was happy, then I would be happy. I could rest easy knowing that I had his approval and ringing endorsement.

When I drove this car I knew in my heart of delusional hearts that this car was special. It was just like all her mighty ancestors: resplendently Swedish and unfettered or tainted by the pirates of Auto-America. I could indeed believe my dad’s theory that indeed, once upon a time, that infamous captain of the American Automobile Industry’s name truly was once really Henrik Fjord.

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