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07:42:33 - 2000-01-15

EVERY DARK CLOUD HAS A LITTLE RUST UNDER ITS HOOD

I love my wife Susie. For the most part, she's one great gal and we see eye to eye on nearly everything. One thing that we seem to quarrel over more often than not is her choice in automobiles. For some strange reason (and I have met other women like this so I can't dismiss my wife as "just plain goofy"), she loves to drive the big cars from the 70s. The kind of cars you saw pimps drive on "Starsky and Hutch." Her explanation for her obsession with these cars is that she likes to surround herself with a lot of metal in case she ever wrecks, it would take a while for the oncoming car to reach her. As if she would have time to apply makeup for the guys with the Jaws of Life. This makes absolutly no sense to me but as I said earlier, I love my wife. And even though I wasn't really paying attention to the wedding vows at the time, I'm sure I'm not supposed to leave her just because she insists on driving a lumbering tank through the neighborhood.

That being said, my wife's 1976 Chevy Impala is on my last nerve. We literally bought it from a little old lady who drove it to the store and back, keeping the car in immaculate condition. The car was in tiptop shape for a car of its age. When my wife saw it five years ago, she fell in love with it. I stared at it as if it was covered in elephant vomit. And as Susie counted those hundred dollar bills off into this woman's hands, my stomach churned like I was on the Tilt-A-Whirl after two or three Polish Sausages.

Five years later, with no carport or garage to speak of at Stately Bobola Manor, the old Impala has turned a lighter shade of rust. Her answer to every comment about the car is "It's paid for."

I usually try to point out that our trash is paid for too, but I don't parade around in it. And for you men out there, this tactic, commonly referred to as 'sarcasm' doesn't work too well in stressful conversation. Therefore, I cannot recommend it to you amateurs.

Two weekends ago, after years of occupancy, our next door neighbors and our neighbors directly across the street moved on the exact same day.

"I wonder why they both moved," Susie wondered aloud at the dinner table that evening.

"Probably because of your car," I absentmindedly replied, chewing on a dinner roll.

That night, as I tossed and turned on the couch, I mentally balanced the checkbook and took care of a few bills in the deep recesses of my brain, which ain't all that deep. I figured out a way we could buy a car, pay our bills, live like Kings, have summer homes in the Barbados, kiss and make up and fly to the moon. Please don't ask for my secrets and tricks on how to do all this. Let's just say I read "Money Management" and watch a lot of Cinemax each week.

I presented the scheme that I had been working on between dreams all night to my wife at the breakfast table. She was trying her best to pretend that I was in Canada.

"Soo... what do you think,"I asked after fully unveiling my plan.

"You want me to get rid of the car I love for something I don't want and to go into debt doing so? Sure. Sounds like a blast. Where do I sign up?," she said, staring at the television and waving an imaginary pencil in the air.

"Great," I said, leaping from the table, ignoring her sarcasm. "It's a date. Saturday afternoon, we go look at cars."

After a few minutes of research on the Internet, Susie made up her mind on what kind of car she wanted. She was dead set on getting a red one. And it had to be as huge as technically possible in this day and age. I shrugged my shoulders and agreed to her demands.

We hit Car Dealer Alley and parked the car in one of the parking lots. We were getting out of my car (which is no prize either, but it's the lesser of two evils in the Stately Bobzilla Manor driveway),when out of nowhere, a swarm of car dealers surrounded us.

"Howyadoing?"

"Howzitgoing?"

"Heylittleladybeautifuldayain't it?"

My wife literally fell back into the car. She has a fear of car dealers that comes from her childhood when a used car dealer tried to sell her a '63 Rambler. She was six at the time and still has nightmares over it.

"Nnnnnghh," my wife grunted like an ape-woman from inside the car.

"Alright gentlemen, back off," I said, taking control of the situation. "We have a woman here with a fear of car dealers."

The car dealers backed off, coiling and hissing like vampires who had just came inches away from touching a crucifix.

"We are only here to look and check out prices," I said as Susie slowly exited the car. "It is our first stop on a day of many stops. If we need your help, we will hunt the most honest looking one of you down."

They all straightened up immediately, groaned collectively, tossed business cards at us and ran back inside the building to their collective space heaters.

It wasn't long before every parking lot full of cars began to look the same to both of us. I was beginning to experience an odd blend of vertigo and hunger while Susie was more interested in talking about a magazine article she had read on How to make your own Christmas Wreath. Finally I interupted her and politely asked "Are you ever going to stop chattering away like Donald Duck and begin looking at these automobiles so we can welcome you into the world of reliable transportation?"

Ten minutes later she finished her story, and added "I've BEEN looking at cars. There's no model that I can see in this day and age that is big enough to meet my standards. And it's not Donald Duck you buffoon, it's DAFFY Duck."

We went home that day as clueless as we were when we stepped into that first parking lot. Susie cooked a delicious dinner and was the most enthusiastic she had been all week. She still has her faithful Impala which has made her the envy of every vintage auto enthusiast and backyard mechanic in town. I'm still sleeping on the couch, with a loose spring in my lower back, trying to devise a new plan to please both myself and my wife.

That's why I've come to you. Do you know where I can get an old school bus?

Preferably a red one.

ME

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