Better Than Braces.

The time has come for a very important decision in my life. This is not a matter that I have entered into lightly; in fact, I have fought this for well over a year. But sometimes in life you have to suck it up and this is one of those times…

I am buying a new car.

Eleven or twelve years ago, I purchased a new Toyota Rav4. It was a fantastic, amazing car. We understood each other. I slogged through weighty payments, never regretting the bite they took out of my budget because my Rav and I had this pure, true love.

Until I saw 50 First Dates a few years back. In this film, Drew Barrymore drives a Volkswagen Thing. I hadn’t seen one since high school when the Cole twins shared one. Back then, I thought they were cool, but a few years ago I thought my automotive life would be complete if only I could share it with such a vehicle. So I scoured AutoTrader and pored over eBay, searching endlessly for such a car. I finally found one in Fort Lauderdale and nothing but nothing could dissuade me. We were meant to be together, my Thing and I. I pictured a long and happy life for the two of us, driving off into mant splendid Fort DeSoto sunsets, camping in the Everglades, sharing our hopes and dreams.

I even sold the Rav.

Alas, it was not to be. My Thing had a secret shame, the scourge of all pre-1981 Volkswagens everywhere.

She had The Rust.

Her previous companion had betrayed her by fiberglassing over the rust, making the situation all the worse.

Classic Camber wanted $15,000 to fix her. No other Volks place would even touch her.

So, at Christmas, I betrayed her. I listed her on eBay and tried to justify my position to her, telling her she deserved a companion who could fufill her needs. I told her I would always love her, but I just couldn’t give her what she needed. In desperation, I told her that it wasn’t her, it was me, and that we could still be friends.

She didn’t listen. By Christmas she was gone, leaving only a half-empty jar of Naval Jelly and a spare visor for me to remember her by.

That’s when I turned my attention to my scooter, and, well… we all know how that turned out.

And then Sierra got a new car, leaving a 1995 Toyota Tercel up for grabs. I paid her $450 for it. And, well, you really DO get what you pay for.

Since March or so, I have put in two (TWO!) radiators, a water pump, a timing belt, new brake shoes, drums, and wheel bearings. New adjusters. New pads. New air filter. New wires to the cigarette lighter (because, after all, what is a car without power for my iPod’s iTrip?). I changed fuses. I cleaned. I loved. I gave.

But last week I started my car and was rewarded with a cloud of smoke that rivaled the aftermath haze of a 4th of July celebration.

Head gasket? Water in the oil? Who knows. But I will allow my Tercel to die with dignity.

And, much against my grain, I am buying a new car. Which will mean carrying comprehensive insurance again. It will mean paying the “bend over” insurance premiums again. And… it will mean car payments.

And, alas, it means car salesmen.

Where the HELL do they get these guys? I mean, do they take a special personality class or something? Look, all I want is a 2 door, manual, no frills, get me there and back, VW Rabbit (oh, yeah, baby, they’re making ’em again, and I want one!)… but to get there- and bear in mind I’m bringing cash and my own financing- I need to listen through layers of bullshit. That includes but is in no way limited to the following:

“We can’t take alloy wheels off a car” (Yeah, because Volkswagens are NOTORIOUSLY hard to work on)

“I’ll get in trouble if I give you this deal” (Spare me)

“You don’t want to wait for 08’s, because they’ll cost more and they won’t be as good” (because car manufacturers are getting shittier by the year)

“I hate salesmen” (No response needed)

“If you go the extra $500, I’ll give you your first oil change for free!” (Do people REALLY fall for this?)

And here’s my very favorite…

“I actually work for the BMW dealership but all the Volkswagen salesmen are busy, so they asked me to come over and see if I could help you. You know, a lot of people don’t realize how afforable BMW’s really are.” (I couldn’t help it, I laughed at her. Because you can get a 380i or whatever for EXACTLY the same price as a VW Rabbit, doncha know? And when you’re done, step over here and I’ll show you how your Beamer’s headlight switch ACTUALLY opens the secret door to Narnia…)

I have heard better lines twenty minutes before last call at bars. I THINK I have finally found one, but no one’s signed anywhere yet. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t kill a sales guy before I drive away in my new car.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.