not since the last time

An interesting aspect of this summer is that for the last three weeks or so I have been driving my dad’s 1998 Ford Winstar mini-van, because my car – Big Sal, as I somewhat affectionately refer to her – has been having hot flashes in her old age and is no longer reliable enough for me to make it the forty minute commute to Dublin, where I currently work. Before I even turned sixteen, my grandmother bought me a 1997 Chevy Cavalier, essentially as her dying gift to me, since she knew she wouldn’t be around to give me a graduation present. Being a woman who loved nothing more than spoiling the shit out of her grandchildren, she bought me the car, writing a check for $2100 before I was even old enough to drive by myself.

Now, six and a half years later, I STILL have that car, and believe me, it’s been one heck of a ride. Sally has been through a LOT over the years, including, but not limited to:

– being pretty much completely totalled when some idiot smashed into me at that stupid Weaver Drive intersection by the Sunoco in Granville right after they put the new stoplights in

– getting robbed BLIND last summer when I was living at the Sig house in Springfield (I still haven’t recovered from the loss of my ENTIRE cd collection)

– an inordinate amount of spills and cigarette burns from countless hours of cruising around Licking and Clark Counties

– new brakes, new transmission, new battery, new water pump (the most recent), and who even knows what else because I certainly don’t know jack about cars but we have pretty much repaired every thing there is to repair on that thing and I WANT A NEW CAR

But, the point is that I am BROKE as a joke and cannot afford a new car any time in the foreseeable future. I can’t even afford a used car. Not even close. So, while my dad and I have been ignoring the problem since we have no money to fix it, I have been driving his mini-van, which I have dubbed The Rev 2.0 because it is seriously THE SAME CAR that my best friend Jason had in high school (except it’s a slightly different shade of turqoise, but seriously, THE SAME CAR). We had a lot of good times in The Revolution, and as dorky as the van was, it was pretty cool to be able to haul around six people when we were in high school and had nothing better to do but drive aimlessly around Newark, Granville, and Heath for hours at a time.

But driving a mini-van to and from work when you’re twenty two and you don’t even HAVE six friends to pack into the backseats is decidedly less cool. Especially because, like The Rev back in the day, my dad’s mini-van is kind of a piece of junk – the interior dome light is disabled because for some reason, Ford Winstars from the late nineties malfunction so that the interior light won’t go off, causing the battery to drain. Also, the power locks are messed up and make this really unpleasant and loud mechanical buzzing noise whenever you lock the doors…and when you try to unlock them, none actually unlock except for the driver’s door, unless you push the button rapidfire like three times causing the lock on the backdoor to vibrate into unlock position, but the passenger side door just doesn’t unlock. And my dad says the car “needs a tune-up,” so sometimes the check engine light (which is always on) will start flashing, and the whole van will start shaking and puttering along, not allowing me to accelerate beyond 50mph, which can be pretty terrifying when you’re trying to merge into rush hour traffic on 270. On top of all that, the gas guage is messed up so that when the tank is full it says full, and it works fine until it gets down to about 3/4 of a tank, at which point the needle goes back up to full and stays there until the tank gets to about a quarter full and then the needle drops back down. Yeah. I’m totally stylin’ profilin’ in that thing.

On top of the fact that this van is over ten years old and obviously is not in tip top condition, my dad has made it uniquely his own by plastering Harley Davidson stickers on the back windshield and placing a matchbox Nascar car on the dashboard, making me feel like an even huger dork when I’m driving this thing around. Oh, and then there’s the empty bottle of Busch Light that has been rolling around inside, crashing into things when I go around corners and somehow always eluding me whenever I try to look for it to throw it away (maybe because the dome light is eternally off). And the whole car smells like cheap cigars, because since my dad has always had a motorcycle, for his midlife crisis he decided to take up smoking cigars instead.

All class, my dad.

So finally, after the Nascar matchbox car started sliding around on the dashboard in addition to the Busch Light bottle sliding around on the floorboard, I convinced my dad to help me move forward in trying to repair whatever it is that’s ailing Big Sal these days. His neighbor, who is a certified mechanic and builds dragsters for fun, helped him fiddle with it yesterday and they think they fixed whatever was causing it to continue to overheat even after we replaced the water pump. I stopped by my dad’s house on my way back from shopping after work, and he was hanging out in the neighbor’s garage, totally loaded, with a cluster of empty Bud Light bottles at his feet (at least it wasn’t Busch Light this time). I shot the shit with them for a while before my dad decided to call it a night, and I got to watch him drunkenly totter around the house, lose his balance and almost fall into the coat closet.

“I haven’t been this drunk since…….the last time I was this drunk,” he said, falling down into his armchair. If you couldn’t assume as much from the image I painted of the car he’s been driving for the past four years, my dad can be quite a character. With any luck, though, Big Sal and I will be reunited this week, and my dad can go back to driving his Harley/Nascar-adorned turqoise mini-van, and I can finally listen to my stereo again and no longer fear for my own loss of life, cause of death: too much Daughtry and Nickelback on the radio.

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