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Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007
I’ve long since conceded to myself that there are things my wife just shouldn’t do without supervision, MY supervision to be perfectly frank, but to let her go ahead with it on her own makes a good deal more sense than the ceaseless kvetching and backseat commenting that I’m often prone/accused/guilty of doing.

Shopping for cars, for example.

Back in the annals of Outfoxedium, lo so many moons ago, Ally was driving a leased minivan that so happened to be approaching that magic 48 month end of lease thing. She had some cash, she was needing a ride. Plus, she was an adult and regularly schlepped 3 wriggling versions of herself a fair distance on any given weekday.

“Watch the kids for a couple hours. I’m gonna run over to the Ford place and see if they can get me outta this van and into a car. Just a nice little four door car that gets good mileage.”

I nodded, this had been coming on for a while now. “Right. Just let me run a vacuum through the van and get it looking a little more . . .”

She was nothing if not abrupt. “Vacuum? You haven’t been in that thing for a while now, have ye? You seen what the kids have been doing in the back seat?”

I had. Bear in mind that we were talking about toddlers with a penchant for flinging, and it was often foodstuffs. The van needed more of a raking than a vacuuming.

“Yeah I know, but still in all we’re suppose to be taking care of that van, it is a lease you know. Says something about returning it in good condition. I’ll just go get the vacuum and . . .”

It should be noted that I’m meticulous about certain things. Meticulous as in slow. Vacuuming the interior of a car is shorthand for the laving on of Armourall, degunking the floor mats and much glass and chrome detailing. I don’t do it often, but when I do it’s an all day affair.

“We don’t have time for all that. Ben’s gonna be up from his nap in an hour and I want to get going. Tell you what, I’ll do the cleaning.” And she paused, and there was this eerie crackle of spastic energy in the air. “Unless you want to clean it up AND watch the kids.”

Within fifteen minutes she had filled a sack with the curious goo that children produce out of thin air, crushed bits of plastic and paper, balls of sticky sludge. A deflated beach ball. An arm from a Gumby, a head from a Barbie. She slam dunked the bag in a trash can and was off with a roar.

Now my wife is decisive and able to make decisions. She isn’t afraid to spend money and can micromanage a shopping list as I wilt in aisle 3, contemplating the sadness of my life with accompanying Muzak, or ponder endlessly the specifics on a shrink wrapped DVD while I slump over a burgeoning wheeled cart and rock back and forth in a pitiful manner.

But Ally is the potters clay to a salesman. Especially a car salesman. Her good nature betrays her and she morphs into the very thing that car salesman spend their entire lives looking for - an easy mark.

I had simple visions of her coming home with exactly what she said she was looking for, a four door car known for good gas mileage. A Taurus, say, or a Camry. Simple. Manageable.


Some four hours passed and an elegant rumbling was heard from the driveway, the dog and kids heard it first and began the galumphing toward the exits as only dogs and kids can, and the Eldest Daughter began the shrieking while I was still scooping up whichever toddler was within reach at the time. “Daddy, come look! Mommy gots a BIG car now!”

I would say that Ally alighted from the car, but that would indicate there was something small enough for her to alight from. No, she appeared from the car, a nineteen foot Mercury which at the time was the biggest vehicle on the road of its kind. Cadillacs weren’t this big. It had the ability to fit as many people in the truck as would normally ride in the seats. There was leather and buttons and flash. The previous owner had played golf and talked of stock options while swirling a martini in his pudgy hand and frowning at a dust mite on his tasseled loafers.

And I stared, and juggled my son and opened my mouth and said . . .

“For the luvagod what is that?”

And it matters not that it wasn’t my son I was juggling in my arms this time, but a grandson. And it matters not that Ally had a few streaks of silver in her hair now, and we were three houses and many miles away from the yard that the Mercury had graced. That we were beyond needing a four door car, where a Trash Truck would do.

I had simple visions. Again. And the reason I had the simple visions is that Ally had ‘splained them to me. “My salesman buddy says he’s got a big ‘ol Bronco and I can get it for cheap”, she said. Visions of muddy Labradors comfortably snoozing on a torn front seat, a ‘Don’t Tread on Me!’ bumper sticker, the eighth cylinder occasionally fading out and that wonderful braaaaaaaping fart sound as I kicked it into second gear on an autumn day. Huge tires with doubtful tread on slightly rusted rims. A crack in the rear window. The headliner stained with the smoke of ten thousand cigarettes. The only thing worth salvaging being the highly polished blue “Ford” emblem affixed to the grille.

You know. My kinda ride.

But yet . . .


It is perhaps a good thing that it was dark outside when Ally got home that evening, and dark in the blackwater is a very dark thing indeed. Only the glow from the front porch light to reveal a vague shape, and a very civilized engine noise, and the smiling face of my wife peering out of the drivers window.

Of a . . . dear lord it’s a misery to even type the word.

A chevy.

A little two door, ten year old four wheel drive with power windows (POWER windows, mind ye) and pristine velour seats. It smelled of fruity sprays available at the local Advantage Auto Parts next to the nail salon. The previous owner had played golf and talked of Apple computers while swirling a Micro-Beer in his callous-free hand and frowning at a dust mite on his brand new Reeboks.

A chevy. Blazer, if you must know, which is anathema and mis-termed to me at any rate. It doesn’t Blaze for one thing, not in the swashbuckling way of a frontiersman trailblazing a path through the swamp, cutting a trail to the landfill so that sodden husbands can tote bags of swill to the dumpster on any given Saturday morning.

And it’s a black chevy, one that the lads down the street can absolutely titter at (and until you’ve seen one of these old boys titter, you ain’t seen tittering at all) when it goes past, and I see the knee slapping and the hooting in the rear view mirror and I try not to hear the cries of “Black? Didja see? Not only a chevy but a black chevy? Whoo, let me sit down and rest here for a minute, I think I just swallowed a big hunk of yuppie pie, Clem.”

Sweet Jesus, take me now.

“Ally dearest, what happened to the big ‘ol Bronco with the bad paint and the speedometer that wouldn’t work and the interior that smelled like roofing shingles? Just where did it go, ‘cause this here sure as hell ain’t it.”

“Oh. That.” (And she pondered for a minute, but it was a false pondering because she’d worked all this out in the five seconds immediately following the salesman saying, “Oh you really didn’t want THAT old thing, did ye? I wouldn‘t want MY wife to have to . . . Why just let me show you this one over here that we just got in yesterday, and . . .”)

“Yeah, that. Trash Truck, remember? How the hell am I gonna go to the dump in that?”, and I shot a righteous paw toward the chevy, with its perfect wheels and waxed paint and thirty day tags.

She sniffed. “Maggie might need to drive it, and look it’s perfect for the baby, and it’s got four wheel drive and everything!”

“But . . .”

“Purrs like a kitten, I drove it and it felt just fine, no shimmy or anything.”

“But big tires and mud and . . .”

“Salesman said it was a really good deal, oh I know it cost more than we were expecting, but I couldn’t hardly see spending good money on something that we’d just have to get fixed all the time, and they couldn’t even get that Bronco to start when I was there and when they did, ohmigod it was so loud.”

“But that’s the whole point Ally, loud isn’t bad, and the dump is only a mile . . .”

Did I mention it was a chevy?

Did I also mention that it’s still in the driveway?

If you were to take a notion, you could lay in wait for me some evening this winter. Most likely on a Saturday, and it will be late in the day when the blackwater really turns black. It will be just shortly before 7 pm, because that’s when the dump closes and folks around here are pretty darn prompt about closing something when closing time comes around. Supper at home, and all that sort of thing. But if you look sharp you’ll see it, a black chevy skulking around, the little back window open and a tuft of garbage bag swirling in the breeze.

That will be me, taking the air of a winters eve. Just me and my Trash Truck.

Gallantly slogging off to adventure on 16 inch tires.

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