Feb. 16th, 2016

About 11 years ago, I bought a car. I hadn't owned one in years, but she came up for sale and I couldn't resist. A '68 Rambler*, powder blue, 3 on a tree, blocky and old and adorable. I named her Phaedra**. I only drove her twice, once on the way home where she died and had to be towed out to an auto shop; a second time when the mechanic refused to work on her at all and demanded she be removed from his business. This second drive was the most terrifying of my life. If you've never driven (or heard of) a 3 on a tree, it's a 3-speed manual transmission, the shifter being on the wheel shaft***. The car is practically unstealable because nobody knows how to drive one these days. I was given a crash course by the guys I bought her from and sent on my way; this second drive was weeks afterward, struggling to remember how it worked. Plus the brakes were bad, the turn signals didn't work and I kept mixing up my hand signals... and there was no speedometer. I collected my brother to be a pacer car; it was about 8 miles out to granny's house, much of it on busy roads.

The bright side? Every single person I passed over the age of about 50 brightened and smiled and waved enthusiastically as I went by. The down side? Everything else. My brother was supposed to go in front, you know, keep to the speed limit so I knew how fast I was going. But as I struggled with the transmission, he slowed down... and slowed down... and every time he did, I had to slow down too - with no brakes. I spent a lot of time veering into the ditch to lose speed, then swooping back out to catch back up. He'd see me come out of the ditch too fast and speed back up, then lose me and slow back down, so we had this sort of... slinky effect, I guess. Getting onto the highway itself almost gave me an aneurysm, I'm a biological coward, but I got it to granny's safely. I parked it there, intending to work on it slowly, enter it into some car shows, then got a job up in Portland and left.

Cut to about 2 years later, I'm on the phone with dad, wondering if I should sell it or order some parts and start working. My dad wasn't much for advice giving, not one of those dads like you see on TV, kicked back in front of the TV sucking on a pipe and ruffling his kids' hair. His nuggets of wisdom came, say, on the front porch, when he'd crumple up the roll of tinfoil he'd smoked his salvia/weed mix out of, and he'd whisper, "Oh my god, did you see that dragon? It WHOOSHED up the driveway!" When he did give input, it was surprisingly pithy. After a long and rambling deliberation, he cut in with, "Sometimes you just gotta cut your losses and walk away." Granny had been threatening to turn the damn thing into a flower planter, if only she could get the trunk open (it came locked, with some tantalizing rattling noises - never did figure out what was in there), then some old guy came over the mountains and knocked on her door. He offered her $300 for the Rambler, and he'd haul it away any day. I couldn't figure out how to hedge my bet on this one; I'd gambled and lost. I had her forge my signature on the necessary documents, and she collected the money. Next time I came to visit, Phaedra was gone. But I did have $300 (minus the $18 or so I used to buy granny a rack of Busch Light to say thanks for her patience), and a pretty good story. When I could remember it better, that terrifying drive knocked people's socks off. And other things... For whatever reason, girls who are into cars are either fetish territory or automatically suspect as lesbians****, so when I told guys about my cars, I'd get one of two reactions - "Oh my god that's so hot," or "Are you a lesbian?"

One night not too long after Phaedra's departure, I went out to meet a guy... I can't remember his name, actually, let's call him Colin. So, I don't really date to "type." Sincerely and truly, personality and intelligence are way more important than looks. That said, if I have a type, it runs to tall, skinny, fluffy haired, beaky nosed, and covered in tattoos. Colin was all of these things - about 6'4", built like a scarecrow, nose like Pinocchio after 10 lies. So there we are on our first date, having identified him in a bar thanks to his outlandish socks, and we immediately strike up a bizarre conversation where he tells me he's into the arcane. Like, Aleister Crowley type of arcane. Which, fine; I'm an agnostic Quaker Jew, I won't judge. After a few beers, though, he told me his trick to dating - masturbate beforehand and smear the juices all over your underpants. There may or may not have been a spell along with it. Wash your hands so it ain't so obvious, but go out laden with pheromones and you'll be beating the ladies (or laddies) off with a stick. On the walk back to his place, we started talking about cars. Over the Hawthorne Bridge, I waxed poetic, all about my '69 Rambler (that was a Freudian slip if such things exist, as it was a '68), all the way back to his place. After he showed me his collection of occult books and introduced me to his cat, we got a little snuggly. Stayed up late doing some light necking (for real, just making out... I might be fast, but I ain't easy), and the next morning he was kind enough to send me off with cab fare. I used the money for a bus ticket and grocery store sushi, stomach wobbly, head throbbing, the sunlight streaming ice picks into my skull.

Footnotes:

*Like this but way more beat up.
**I was pretty obsessed with this song back then.
***I wish Youtube had existed in 2005, so I could watch videos on how to drive a 3-speed manual transmission.
****Let's not even get into the whole gender/sexuality identity spectrum problem here... just a subjective and fast explanation of my past experiences being judged solely on my hobbies and interests.

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This has been an entry for [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. Please also see my teammates' entries (and vote for us all!), which are: [livejournal.com profile] i_love_freddie, [livejournal.com profile] ellison, [livejournal.com profile] inteus_mika, and [livejournal.com profile] prog_schlock.

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