Thursday, July 13, 2006


If you took all my working knowledge of cars, crammed it into a food processor, rolled it out on your granite countertop, put it in a 9x13 pan, and threw it in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, you would have a casserole that would be dreadfully small, and would taste like burnt car tires. It’s an old family recipe.

Essentially, for me, my favorite kind of car is one without a car payment attached to it. Having said that, I can recognize the writing on the wall, and I know when a “non-payment” car has metamorphosed into a dilapidated car. This is the sad story of the 1991 Honda Accord I have been driving for the past two and half years. I started out quite appreciative of the car. Two and half years later, I want to shoot it with a bazooka.

The car was initially given to my youngest brother, Dehn, when he was in high school. A spoiled, wealthy, generous friend of his had received a new car from his parents, and he gladly handed over this Honda, absolutely free, to Dehn. It had a few dents in it, and the odometer didn’t work, but you couldn’t beat the price. When Dehn left the country for a couple of years (no, the mob was not after him), my parents asked if we might find the car useful. And we thought we just might.

Now, the thing about Hondas is this: they will never die. You may have heard this before, but after the apocalypse, only cockroaches and Hondas will survive. Yes, this thing refuses to die, but 30 months later, here is the state of the 1991 Honda Accord:

*Odometer doesn’t work.
*Speedometer doesn’t work.
*The gas gauge doesn’t work.
*No stereo (stolen and never replaced).
*No seatbelt on the front passenger side.
*Electronic beeping sporadically goes off, indicating passenger seatbelt (which does not exist) is not engaged, and may continue beeping from 3 minutes to 3 days.
*One window in the back of the car was broken, and replaced with a tinted window (the rest of the windows are not tinted, of course).
*The pre-existing dents were knocked out of the car, but the dents were never sanded and repainted, giving the car a “leopard” look. Which is good camouflage if you take a Honda on safari.
*The driver’s seat is not adjustable, so one must be 6’ or taller to sit in it and reach the pedals.
*There is no door handle on the inside of the car on the driver side. In order to get out of the car, one must roll down the window, open the door from the outside, roll the window back up, and then get out.
*The window on the driver side won’t roll up all the way.
*Neither will the windows in the back of the car.
*Once you turn the car off you must wait three to seven minutes before the key will disengage from the ignition. Otherwise it locks up and will not release the key.
*The air conditioning works, but produces a funky smell.

My brother came back to the United States (shhhh, the mob doesn’t know), recently got married, and has found himself in need of a car. And boy, have I got the car for him! Here are the perks:

*It’s absolutely free!
*You can take it on safari!
*Drive it all day, and your odometer maintains the exact same mileage!
*“Really officer? My speedometer didn’t say I was going that fast!”
*You can play “Gas Roulette” where you get to guess how close you are to being out of gas. (I’ve only lost twice!)
*Teach yourself to sing, rather than fiddle with a pesky stereo!
*One of the back seats is 1.3 degrees cooler, thanks to a new tinted window!
*Gives you plenty of time to decide if you like your parking space, while you wait for the key to disengage!
*Check the weather before getting out of your car! Do I need an umbrella? A hat? A poncho? You’ll know when you roll down your window to let yourself out of the car!

The happy ending to our story is that over the past two and half years I have managed to put aside enough money to buy a car with cold, hard cash. So I am now living the dream of having a car that’s not only paid for, but features such luxuries as fully operational seatbelts and accurate readings of speed, mileage, and gasoline. Of course, the downside is I will now have to rent a car should I want to go on safari.