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  • Lance Mannion
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Jim 7

No, Lance, the most un-American thing about you is your capacity for introspection and reasoned, thoughtful articulated discourse.

The car thing is second.

By the way, did you ever buy a station wagon?


Let me just say at the outset that I like Jim7.

And gee, Lance just struck a chord in my own car strangeness. I have never cared about cars either. Have never had a new one.

BUT. I enjoyed filling out one of those email questionnaires from a far-away chum when two questions lined up like this:

Q: If you could drive any car, what would it be?
A: I don't care about cars.
Q: What kind of car do you drive?
A: Benz.

And, for some reason, those ads for little metal car collectibles - you know, the detailed classics, with doors and trunks that open....those - always grab and hold my attention. I have no idea why.

Ken Muldrew

I have no desire whatsoever to dress up my car, but I can't call it a benign presence. All my cars have been constant sources of anxiety and unease. As the mother of a newborn is apt to wake suddenly, the instant her baby starts to cry, so am I compelled, much against my wishes, to respond to any sound or feeling that does not belong. The 5 stages of grief are always played through, in sequence, though some fixes get performed often enough that the time between the initial sensation, and a stop at the auto parts store, is short enough to belong to part of the same trip. Other times, the job is so dreadful that acceptance and denial become fused into some bizarre hybrid. I went without 3rd gear on my last car for years because having removed the transmission once (to replace the clutch), I was not about to subject myself to that kind of misery again without cause.

I used to dream about owning a new car; one under warranty so that every time it broke I could simply take to the dealer and get it fixed. I don't think that I could do it, though. I don't know why, but I have this thing about fixing things. There is a part of me that just cannot admit that if someone else could build a thing, that I couldn't fix it. There is a line in Tracy Kidder's "The Soul of a New Machine" where the head engineer declares, "Give it to me, I can fix anything". I used to think of that as a boast but it's really a curse, a brain pathology. If only some other region of my CNS had been messed up, I could be in Vegas, boozing and whoring, instead I'm underneath a filthy car, drilling out another bolt that sheared off due to rust. Definitely a curse.

A car is transportation, sure, but it's hard won, and never restful. And then eventually you have to put it down, and that just about kills you. It's almost like taking your horse to the glue factory (or it would be if horses weren't high-strung psychotic lunatics). But in the end, it does come down to transportation, and even if you have just a few tens of thousands of kilometers to get it past a half-million (with an engine that could easily last until a real million), there are only so many hours in a weekend before one needs transportation again on Monday morning.

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