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henry ford's an @$$hole
sifting through the car-nage
by mike julianelle

Am I being punished? God knows I deserve it.

For the past few months now, my car has been breaking down with regularity. You might jump to the conclusion that I am a terrible driver and that I am pounding my automobile into the ground through quick stops and fast starts and not getting the oil changed or whatever. But that’s not true. Yes, I live in Boston, the mecca for moronic drivers, but while I have made the necessary adaptation to the ultra-aggressive style of the Massachusetts auto-driver (you know, if you can’t beat ‘em...and you really, really can’t beat them. Actually, you can literally beat them, but…)

I was raised in Connecticut. My formative driving years were spent tooling around the lush, suburban landscapes of that genteel, domesticated environment, and I emerged a thoughtful, cautious, courteous driver. I’m sure nothing less is expected from a product of the most elegant state in the Union.

My point is, none of the problems with my car have been my fault. I haven’t gotten into any accidents, I haven’t left the lights on and drained the battery, I get my oil changed with the normal regularity, and overall I take adequate care of my car.

But it hates me. Not like Christine, where the car tries to kill other people and stuff. My car only tries to kill me. I think it liked my grandfather better.
The car used be his. He was an energetic guy, but he didn’t drive too much. He drove it a total of 13,000 miles in 5 years. No joke. Up the street, down the street, through the bucolic Connecticut neighborhood in which he lived. He didn’t drag the car through the gauntlet that is Boston, and the car loved him for it. But it despises me. I don’t clean it much, I don’t get it waxed or anything like that. It isn’t my car by choice, and while I guess I respect it, I don’t like it. Aesthetically, it gives me nightmares.

Pop-pop was a fun-loving, flashy guy. Great with a joke, quick on his feet, a real bon vivant. But while his gaudy style added a sense of charm to his personality, on his car it just looks hideous. It was great fun to be around the guy, and I loved him to death, but his taste in cars got me stuck with a real stinker. Charm ain’t so fun when it lands you with a teal, two-door Grand Am complete with a spoiler and roll-down windows.

“Pops, you’re 82 years old, why wouldn’t you get a 4 door with power-windows?”


I probably should have asked before we ate dinner.

Car trouble is a scary thing. Now, it’s not like I’ve had a tire fall off or had to duck for cover as my gas tank exploded. But I have been going 80 on the Mass Pike in the left lane only to suddenly have my radio die, my anti-lock brakes start fluttering and my car rapidly decrease in speed as I struggle to get all the way across to the shoulder without killing myself or anyone else. Not a pleasant experience. Neither is waving down a tow truck after approximately 6.5 million people go by without stopping to help or offer a cell phone. I swear more than half of the people that went by were actually using their cell phones as I frantically made the phone sign with my hand. Thanks a lot.

(You read that right, I don’t have a cell phone. I hate them. Like Starbucks, they are an indication of the increasingly trendy, shallow, obnoxious society that exists around me. It used to be yuppies and drug dealers. Now it’s mom, dad, little sis and the homeless guy on the corner. If I hear that damn Nokia ring again, or have to listen to the Mission: Impossible theme beckon some overweight customer service guy to a call from his Dungeons and Dragon club, I swear to God I will shove that thing up his ass.)

I have had more than a few awkward trips with tow truck drivers over the past 6 months. There was the guy who brought along his nephew that day so I had to sit next to a 6 year old chubby kid who knows more about transmissions than I do. There was the trip back home from the middle of Western Mass next to the silent, gruff guy who was smoking KOOLs and making me wonder how I would escape if he unzipped his pants. And there was the ride with the young dude who works the night shift and always chugs a few 2-liter bottles of Pepsi to keep himself awake. He entertained me by singing the praises of working hours that allow him to tow the smashed up cars of drunken college students who can’t stand straight, let alone use their blinkers before making illegal u-turns into parked cars. Then he ogled some coeds who walked by and made a few lewd comments about their asses. That was fun (I’m not being sarcastic. It really was fun).

I don’t like my car. It’s ugly and big and unreliable. The passenger door, already too big for my taste, has a busted hinge so that it opens too far and requires 1.21 jigawatts of pressure in order to pull the damn thing open. The front of the car is so low that I have busted my Massachusetts mandatory front license plate more than once just weathering the dip that leads into my driveway. The cigarette lighter doesn’t work so I have to spend approximately $300 dollars a month on batteries to listen to CD’s rather than hear Opie and Anthony talk about farts for 6 straight hours during my commute.

Aside from it getting me to work and back more often than not (which, come to think of it, isn’t really a benefit; the choice between being at work or being on the side of the road waiting for a tow is really a toss up these days) and the flimsy rationale that the color reflects my pride in the Miami Dolphins, the car does little for me. But it was free. Unless you count the thousands of dollars it has cost in repairs.

I don’t like being scared when I drive and constantly being on alert for a weird noise, or a skipping tire, or an exploding engine. With astonishing frequency, something is constantly afoot with my car. I am always hearing or feeling something that ain’t quite right with it, and it wreaks havoc on my nerves. But I have learned how to turn a blind ear to it, or a deaf eye, for better or worse. I convince myself there’s nothing wrong, and I pretend I can make it to work and back without a problem, and I hope it’s just my imagination and that the next time I start up the car nothing will spark and I will make it home without incident.

But that denial probably isn’t doing my car any good. So today I am going to bring her to the shop. Which is a whole nother can of worms. Whenever I go to a mechanic, I get the feeling that he is going to call me up and explain that my car was raped by Satanic factory workers as she was being assembled, and that those repressed memories are seeping out and manifesting themselves by emptying my wallet. But I’m just being silly, there’s no way my car could remember something that happened when she was just a few weeks old. That’s ridiculous. It’s a Pontiac, not Roseanne Barr.


Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".

more about mike julianelle


making some short lists
check this twice!
by mike julianelle
topic: humor
published: 12.13.06

the sting of wishful thinking
tune in, turn on, cop-out
by mike julianelle
topic: humor
published: 1.18.02


russ carr
2.8.02 @ 2:07p

Get a horse!

mike julianelle
2.8.02 @ 2:19p

I was going to name the column something like that.

adam kraemer
2.8.02 @ 2:41p

See - you anti-cellphone people always bitch about those of us who actually have a way for our loved ones to get in touch with us until it's your ass on the side of the Mass Pike and then you wonder why we don't even bother to slow down and mock you.

mike julianelle
2.8.02 @ 2:45p

Cell phones are fine for neccessity. But their rampant overuse is obnoxious and pointless. Noone needs to be in touch with their friends at all hours, in the bathroom, during work, etc. Maybe it's not the cell phones that suck, but the manners of the people using them.

adam kraemer
2.8.02 @ 2:49p

That's fair. But I really don't know what I'd do without mine. In a city like this, it's pretty much impossible to actually make plans and meet up with people unless we can keep in cellular contact right up until the moment we meet.

mike julianelle
2.8.02 @ 2:50p

I definitely understand the need for them. But they are obnoxious, in a lot of cases. Plus, I just like to rant. You know this.

jael mchenry
2.8.02 @ 4:06p

"It's pretty much impossible to... meet up with people unless we can keep in cellular contact right up until the moment we meet." To steal a line from American Pie, it's not a shuttle launch. We all got along fine before cells. It was a little inconvenient wondering why your friends were 15 minutes late, but it's not like having a cell phone gets them there faster, it just gives them the opportunity to explain exactly why they'll be late before they get there and could do it in person.

And shouldn't that be @$$hole?

russ carr
2.8.02 @ 4:18p

Jael's quoting American Pie and Tracey's citing Rush Hour 2. This place is going to hell.

Oh. And that wasn't a plug for IMDC.

mike julianelle
2.8.02 @ 4:29p

Would anyone be offended if I just made it straight up "asshole"? Prolly.

tracey kelley
2.10.02 @ 11:17p

Jael's quoting American Pie and Tracey's citing Rush Hour 2. This place is going to hell.

HA HA! I just adore Jackie Chan. And the outtakes on that movie were hysterical.

Big, big fan of outtakes.

"...something is constantly afoot with my car."

Heh. That's funny.

mike julianelle
2.11.02 @ 10:16a

This place is going to Hell? I was under the impression we were already there. Jackie Chan, eh? I'll take the 5th on that buffoon. He's got a lot of grace and class though...or is that Jackie O?

adam kraemer
2.11.02 @ 10:28a

I'd like to see a movie with Chris Tucker and Jackie O. Or Jackie Mason, because he's still alive, as far as I know.

sarah ficke
2.11.02 @ 10:29a

I once spent a weekend alone in a car with a notoriously unreliable gas gauge. There's nothing like the fear of being stranded on a "scenic route" somewhere in Pennsylvania with no shoulder and no visible habitation for miles.
...and you really, really can’t beat them
Actually, you can. The key is to be driving a 14' U-Haul. No-one messes with a 14' U-Haul.

mike julianelle
2.11.02 @ 4:45p

I think Jackie Mason had his birth revoked after Caddyshack 2.

russ carr
2.11.02 @ 9:39p

No-one messes with a 14' U-Haul.

Try a 19' U-Haul. With a car dolly, pulling a Mazda 626.

And in fact I took above 19' U-Haul with car dolly and successfully turned it around on little country road then drove it up a mountain in Tennessee, pulled the Honda Civic I'd towed since south Florida off, put the Mazda 626 on, and then did a 58-point-turn in the parking lot of the gas station on said mountain top...then back down the mountain and all the way to St. Louis.

When I got to the bottom of that mountain again, I felt like I could have kicked anyone's ass. Just me and my truck, baby. Truck drivin' man.

mike julianelle
2.28.02 @ 10:19a

Gotta say, whoever critiqued this column with the classic Ralph Wiggum quote "My cat's breath smells like cat food" absolutely rules. Nice work. That is all.

adam kraemer
2.28.02 @ 10:25a

Wow. I wish that had been me.

mike julianelle
2.28.02 @ 10:28a

Once, in college, I said that to a cashier I was ordering food from, and she, of course, responded with a "What?" So I repeated it, she said, "So?" and I said, "Just sayin'." Pure comedic gold.

michelle von euw
2.28.02 @ 10:44a

"I fell and bent my Wookie!"

adam kraemer
2.28.02 @ 10:50a

"Me fail English? That's unpossible!"

"So, do you like...ummmm...stuff?"


mike julianelle
2.28.02 @ 11:01a

"It tastes like burning!"

jael mchenry
2.28.02 @ 11:03a

A friend of mine has the talking Simpsons figurines. The funniest by far is the Ralph Wiggum "It tastes like burning" line. It also says the one about the cat food.

michelle von euw
2.28.02 @ 11:22a

I beat the smart kids!

russ carr
2.28.02 @ 11:45a

And ironically, when I posted "Get a horse!" way at the top, I was citing Barney's bellowed words of advice as the Family Simpson went on a walk through the neighborhood.

We are zen-like in our cyclical nature.


jael mchenry
2.28.02 @ 1:26p

To cyclically bring this around to talking about Buffy, a Ralph quote above reminds me of the classic Xander line "To read makes our speaking English good."

Last night was the double Xander ep. I think Suave Xander was definitely Kelly, and Wet Xander was Nick. Maybe I should reset my sights...

adam kraemer
2.28.02 @ 2:28p

The Kelly of my existence or a different Kelly?

mike julianelle
2.28.02 @ 2:34p

The actor who plays Xander (Nicholas Brendon's) real life twin, Kelly. Sorry to disappoint you, Adam.

michelle von euw
2.28.02 @ 3:09p

Could the HeftyXander be Kelly, too?

jael mchenry
2.28.02 @ 3:12p

Could, but since the Xander that was left when they combined was Hefty!Xander, I rather suspect he's the real one (Nick.) I think. There was just something about Suave!Xander that seemed unlike Regular!Xander. Or maybe that was just, well, acting.

adam kraemer
2.28.02 @ 3:41p

Could be. Supposedly Nick Brendon is an actor.

I didn't know there was a Kelly.

mike julianelle
2.28.02 @ 3:43p

That's funny, because Kelly barely seems to know there's an Adam. BOO YA!!!!!!!!

adam kraemer
2.28.02 @ 3:58p

That just hurts, man.

24-year-old girls are just mean.

adam kraemer
2.28.02 @ 4:19p

I'm on IMDB reading all the Buffy quotes:

Giles: I have a friend who's coming to town, and I'd like us to be alone.
Anya: Oh, you mean an orgasm friend?
Giles: Yes, that's exactly the most appalling thing you could have said.

mike julianelle
2.28.02 @ 4:22p

Yeah, that's Hush, ain't it? Giles is good. I miss Giles.

michelle von euw
2.28.02 @ 4:38p

So that's Nick under all that weight? I haven't watched in months, so I didn't see it coming...I was hoping Kelly filmed the most recent ep so it could be a "look at how all these wedding-stress potato chips have effected Xander" or something.

jael mchenry
2.28.02 @ 5:15p

Hey, anything's possible. I was noticing -- of course I was intended to notice -- all the weight during the chip-scarfing interlude. Who else is so NOT looking forward to next week's wedding?

adam kraemer
2.28.02 @ 5:28p

I'm actually a little curious to see which demons made it.

mike julianelle
2.28.02 @ 5:28p

I don't care that it's taking an ep, but it's a sucky plot line.

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