Friday, August 5, 2011

Why won't this car die?!?!

My car is dying. In fairness, it isn’t my car. It is my wife’s car. Or maybe I should put that in the past tense; it was my wife’s car. In fact, to be clear, it was my wife’s college car. This 1997 Chevy Cavalier now has legendary status in our family, it can survive anything. In fact, to my dismay, it survived being picked up and tossed by the recent tornadoes. Of course, it landed wheels down and showed little damage. She just brushed herself off and kept on running.

Unfortunately for the car, she isn’t my favorite. In fact, she isn’t even close. You might ask, “Why do you drive this antique with nearly 200,000 miles on it?” Well, I made a commitment. I once said, as long as it runs, I’ll drive it to avoid a car payment. Let this serve as a word of caution - I said that five years ago.

How did I end up driving this car in the first place? Well, as in many families, our circumstances dictated the type of cars we purchased and drove. When we got married, I was driving my dream truck. It was big, manly, and a stick shift. Unfortunately for that truck, my wife couldn’t drive a stick shift. Additionally, at the time, I had a job that was quite some distance from our home and big, manly, stick shift trucks don’t generally get good gas mileage, so it had to go.

The next circumstance was that we had children. Apparently, somewhere in the marriage and family instruction book it requires previously rugged outdoorsman to purchase powder blue minivans once they have families. I must have missed that day in class and I never received the manual, but his is what I am told. So we bought the minivan and I’ve must tell you, nothing screams TOUGH like a minivan with automated side doors.

So, getting rid of my truck that only I could drive and trading it in for a minivan, which was for my wife to drive, left me with the car.

Just so you understand, I am a big guy and the Cavalier is not. So getting in and out of this car is somewhat like watching the clowns pile out of the compact car at the circus. Let’s just say it is not the most comfortable car. But after a couple of years, I made it my own. Unfortunately, this story gets worse. About two summers ago the air conditioning went out. I took it into a mechanic to see how much it would cost to get it fixed, “$1000” the big, greasy, tough guy behind the counter said in a tone that suggested he wondered why a big guy like me would be driving a girly little circus car. It seemed a little high, so I took it somewhere else to get a second opinion, “$1200”, the woman behind the next counter said with a look in her eyes that suggested she thought I was less of man because I wanted AC in my little toy car.

The price clearly wasn’t going to get any better so I pondered my options, do I put a $1000 air conditioner in a car that was only blue book valued at $600 or do I simply sweat through the summer? Being the cheap guy I am, I decided to sweat it out, I could use to lose a few pounds anyways.

Well, that was two summers ago and I am midway through my third summer in my little antique girly car with no air conditioning and despite all the pounds I sweated off and despite of the judgmental glances I receive at the stop lights, I’ve grown fond of my little car. I own it now, it is no longer my wife’s college car, it’s mine. But she is fading, she creaks when she turns, she starts slower, and little warning lights are coming on all the time. Maybe it is in this year that I turn 40 that my own aging has given me sympathy on all things aging and loyal over time. When she goes, she will be missed. At least until I get back in my dream truck!

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