Crazy B*tch (Memoirs of a Lemon Lover in Recovery)
Chapter 46—Half-Way Across the Lake…
It had taken nearly a whole month to fix my car. Granted, driving the Jaguar was nice, but I was missing my beautiful black car. Each week I would phone the garage (I didn’t drop by in person lest they decide they needed the Jaguar back), and inquire about the status of my car. Each week I would hear the report of one thing being fixed only to discover another thing had broken. A more suspicious woman would have gotten suspicious. My dad trained me differently as a result, I rarely got suspicious—paranoid sure—but rarely suspicious.
I knew too much about my car to be easily duped. Each subsequent repair required was both legitimate and expensive. Nils, emboldened by the acceptance of his marriage proposal, suggested that perhaps either I wasn’t as savvy as I believed (savvy people have better taste in cars), or the garage was blatantly breaking one thing for everything they fixed just to get extra money out of me. No matter how you sliced it, he was questioning my intelligence, and the integrity of both my car and the shop I took it too. I did the only thing a girl could do: I told my dad on him.
Now, my dad loved Nils as if he were his own. His lecture to him was gentle, but lengthy. It included a comprehensive history of Sweden, our family lineage, and the copious training he gave me while I was growing up. Nils got to hear about how I was on the tools before I went to school (which was an exaggeration, I was a robust six year old when my dad let me use the oil filter wrench for the first time). He also heard the story about the power steering hose, which to my horror, intimated that all I was going through was just karma for that one fateful night.
I sat there stunned. My eye started twitching and my chin quivered. I always thought my dad had forgiven me. I reflected back to all the time we had spent on our cars since then all the while I thought that I had served my penance, and that my dad and I were “good”. He was there for me at every step, guiding me, defending me and cheering me on, or was he? Did he council me to get cars that he thought were what would “serve me right”? Did he really see me as someone who wantonly and purposely broke his power steering?
My mom tried to distract me by talking about something called “Purse Bingo”. She figured this would be a fun game to play at my bridal shower. I told her I didn’t deserve a bridal shower, and then I started to bawl. Through heaving sobs I told her what I had overheard. My mom was quiet, and I assumed her lack of denial was confirmation of what I believed to be true: I was a bad driver, and person, and thus did not deserve any kind of anything from my parents anymore. Clearly I was such a horrible disappointment to my dad. After all, any car in my care either gets written off or run into the ground.
My mom’s silence, as it turns out, was more of a loss for words. She just held me until Nils found me. Once Nils scooped me up into one of his gentle giant hugs, my mom went off to find my dad. Since I was enveloped in the peace and glory that is a Nils hug, I was blissfully unaware of the hushed and intense conversation that ensued between my parents. Nils took me home, and I remained unaware of what transpired between my parents until much later.
In the meantime, Nils and I got to talking. He was unimpressed by my dad’s lengthy discourse, and it only strengthened his resolve to help me find my way through this fog of utterly blind devotion I had going on. My dad’s theories on how I “earned” this car in the most profound ‘karmic’ sense registered nothing more than a snort of derision from Nils. The only helpful thing that arose out of the “talk” my dad had with Nils, I thought, was that Nils gained a fuller comprehension and understanding of all the subtleties of the relationship I had with my beautiful black car.
When I went to pick up my beautiful black car, Nils came with me. I figured he wanted one last chance to drive the Jaguar, and I couldn’t blame him. Besides, he more than earned the many “atta boy” and “you’re a lucky guy” accolades he was bound to receive once the news of our engagement got around the garage. What I hadn’t accurately anticipated was Nils’s interrogation of my mechanic. Apparently Nils had done his own research over the last three and a half weeks, and was armed with some very well researched questions.
To my relief, all questions were answered thoroughly by my mechanic. We both were taken on a tour of the under-side of my beautiful black car. All was explained in a very thorough, and methodical manner. The only detail Nils took issue with (quite justifiably) was the level on the fuel gage of my car. He knew I left the car with a full tank, and now the car’s gage sat on red line: if we were lucky, we’d have just enough gas to get us to the nearest station.
I was too busy paying the five thousand dollar bill when Nils came thundering into the garage. He had a fiercely long screw driver in his hand, and he was wielding it up and down like some kind of hammer belonging to a guy named Thor. His voiced boomed throughout the garage. It was, thankfully, virtually devoid of profanities, however it was chalked full of rage. Apparently the screw driver flew across the windshield when he turned on the wipers. It very nearly caused some serious damage to paint, glass, and fiancé. Furthermore, the gas gage was dangerously low—he accused them of trying to damage my fuel pump—among other things. Words like “money gauging Voertbroed peddling hacks” bandied about the shop floor. I stood in a frozen panic. I had never seen anyone go off on a mechanic like that. In my family we revered mechanics the same way most people revere doctors, and we never dared speak to the person who fixed our brakes in any manner less than polite and sweet.
Perhaps more chilling than that were Nils’s next words. He slammed the over sized screw driver down on the parts desk and said, “Thanks in no small part to you bandits, Elsa is stuck—she can’t afford to keep this car, and it is too messed up for her to sell at any kind of redeemable price! Is that how you keep your customers—through extortion and entrapment?”
Nils’s words were a little dramatic but not inaccurate. I was half way across a lake—so to speak—and was equally damned to drown regardless of whether I chose to turn back or to keep swimming. The real question was then, how much longer could I tread water?