by Heather Howard
Way back in what now seems like dawn of time, I managed to earn enough money to buy my very own car. The chosen vehicle was 2-door “strawberry” Dodge Neon. I had fallen for car’s big round dopey head-lights. All the way to the dealership, my mother insisted that I rethink buying a Dodge. “Their trouble,” she said, as we drove down the highway in her reliable Maxima. My father added, “The car has no track-record. You don’t know how it will perform.” Their words were wasted because, a few painful hours later, the car was mine.
Skipping forward four years, the little Neon’s lease was up. Contrary to my parents’ fears, the little inexpensive Dodge never gave me a moment’s trouble. Unfortunately, when the Neon drove out of my life, it took with it my days of worry-free driving. Since that point, my foreign, trendy and “reliable” vehicles have been, well, not reliable – in fact, at times, they’ve been down right dangerous.
The trouble first began when I purchased, what I now call, the “Incredible Exploding Car.” The small impractical VW Cabrio was a proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” At first, the car was simply cute, sassy and so much fun to drive. After I learned to manage its manual transmission, we got along like the best of friends. Then, without warning, the trouble began.
On that fateful dark evening, I was driving home from work on a major Interstate, listening to the radio and reviewing my day. Suddenly, I felt the Cabrio pulling grossly to the left. I knew immediately that something was wrong. So, I worked my way across six lanes of traffic into a poor-excuse for a shoulder. When I exited the car to get a good look, I saw that my front left tire was gone. No, it wasn’t flat; it simply wasn’t there. It had literally exploded. And the remnants were everywhere. After two long hours, I was back on the road with my spare, just happy to have survived.
Unfortunately, the car was not satisfied. Two months later, upon starting the Cabrio, its battery exploded. It didn’t sputter, spark or simply shut down. Yes, like the tire, it had exploded! After hearing the loud pop, I jumped out of the parked car, grabbed my cell phone and sprinted across the parking lot. At that point, I didn’t know if something else was going to blow! When my husband arrived, he peeked under the hood and, to his surprise, he found battery entrails everywhere. At that very moment, we both concluded that it would be prudent to purchase a new car.
Wanting a safe, non-explosive vehicle, I opted for a stylish new sedan
– a Volvo S60. After all, Volvo advertises its high standards for
passenger safety, right? Driving around in its leather-bound interior,
I was comfortable knowing the back seat wouldn’t explode, ejecting my
newborn 100 feet into the air. However, once again, I had another wolf
in sheep’s clothing, or in this case, a wolf in a Pomeranian’s
clothing. My false sense of security was trampled by a minor computer
malfunction. When the Volvo’s gas gauge dropped below ½ tank, the car
could, at any time, “run out of gas.” There is only one way to discover
a glitch such as this. Unfortunately, it happened on the way home from
the airport after a very long trip. Because the problem was persistent,
I eventually learned to keep the gas level as near to full as possible.
When our second child was born, we predictably bought the illustrious suburban assault vehicle. Our reliable Acura MDX is everything that we expected. Whether it be stale milk sippy cups, bicycles or mushroom compost, the MDX can take it all in stride. The car can only be compared to an old family dog – loyal and perpetually dirty. Despite its dedication, the Acura, like its predecessors, has a bizarre condition. You see, my beloved SUV is suffering from delusions of grandeur. It thinks it’s a helicopter. Driving down the road, the car makes a vibrating noise that mimics the circling blades of a helicopter. Now, if I was a paranoid individual, I might believe that the feds were following me. While that scenario would make a great action film, I’m just not that important or that paranoid. At the end of the day, as we make yet another grocery store run, my loyal 5 year old SUV is longingly dreams of taking-off into the wild blue yonder.
Since that first dopey-eyed, Dodge Neon, my car-driver relationships have been rocky. I keep finding vehicles with quirks, explosive personalities and bizarre rhythms. So I ask this question: Why are nice girls attracted to bad cars? If we had sweet, reliable, easy-going cars, serving us without complaint, we’d have nothing to talk about at work on Monday. We’d have no-one to blame but ourselves for tardiness or procrastination. And, furthermore, we wouldn’t experience that adrenaline rush, the kind that comes with a dangerous relationship. The bad boys bring a certain mystery and adventure to our otherwise monotonous suburban lives. Each morning when you turn the ignition key, you don’t know what that day might bring, what will explode, when you’ll run out of gas or when, finally, the helicopter will take-off.
Read Heather's original blog post on Everything Under the Moon.