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The Trout Mobile and Other Wages Cars

October 27, 2012

One of the most drastic changes in Daddy’s behavior is his attitude toward money. Once painfully frugal and antagonistic when Mother, Timber or I traipsed in wearing a new sweater, he now spends without regard. In the spring he purchased a $100 pair of neon yellow sneakers in downtown Acworth on a whim; he donated to every charitable organization that called the house until Mother took away his credit card; and he offered to throw me a nice wedding without wincing. (A few years ago he notified Timber and me that our nuptials would take place in the pasture.)

I visited home last weekend to discover that Daddy had bought Mother a brand new Nissan Cube, the Ranger tag and other Airborne paraphernalia already secured in place.

“I really like this maroon color,” I said, circling the Cube like a vulture.

“It’s cayenne pepper,” Daddy corrected me.

In the early ’90s Mother drove a couple BMWs, but after Daddy paid such exorbitant maintenance fees, the cool factor of her cars greatly decreased. I particularly hated her ancient white Nissan Maxima, mainly because the antenna flopped around like a wet noodle. Mother accidentally closed the garage on the erect antenna and cracked it in half. Everyone knew when my mother had arrived to pick me up at school because the tentacle spanked the trunk, banging slower and slower until she eased to a halt in front of my peers.

Once I earned my learner’s license, Mother encouraged me to drive the Maxima everywhere, including to an archaeological dig in the backwoods of Red Bud, a subcommunity of Calhoun. While we bumbled over a gravel road, I noticed a group of teenagers hanging out in the distance, including the gay hippie I would remain hopelessly in love with for the next six years. (With one glimpse of his greasy ponytail, mosquito-gnawed legs and green Chrysler van complete with Free Tibet bumper sticker, I was infatuated.)

I stopped the car and made Mother let me walk the rest of the way. When I opened the door, Neal Boortz screamed across the open field, and I looked like a dork.

While Daddy drove ruggedly handsome vehicles for the most part, his kidney bean-colored Jeep Cherokee embarrassed me, not only because I was 12 and humiliated by anything but also because the Jeep smelled like trout. Thus I called it the Trout Mobile. Daddy drove it through creeks and streams on fishing trips and spit tobacco with the window rolled down. Juicy shards littered the sheet metal like bird poop and sometimes flew back inside, splattering the fabric roof. Intensifying my horror, he retrieved us after track practice blasting banjo gospel music.

“Hey girls! Phoo,” he would say, spitting a dip wad.

“Daddieeee…” I would mutter.

our Corolla post-wreck

Shockingly, I actually liked the Toyota Corolla Daddy acquired for Timber and me to share. The only part that sucked was my parents’ seniority rule: since Timber was older, she got to take the car when we had made separate plans. We even jointly drove the Corolla in college until we hydroplaned off the side of a mountain road my freshman year. Our friend K invited us to attend an art show at Young Harris College, but we got lost on the way. The misty weather along with Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream” on repeat probably exacerbated Timber’s frustration.

“Stop pressuring me. Stop pressuring me. Stop pressuring me, makes me wanna…oh, oh SHIT,” Timber croaked as we spun into the left lane, barely missing an oncoming car, then nosing back across our lane and over the side of the cliff. We flipped about four times and landed against a stump. Once I realized we weren’t dead I noticed a hot sheriff bounding down the ravine. After he dropped us off at our dorm at North Georgia College, I wrote him a stupid love letter:

Dear Brave Man in Brown:

I forever will be grateful for your speedy arrival at the site of my car accident on
Sunday afternoon. I am the girl who flipped with her sister off the side of the road. Your sparkly blue eyes have me mesmerized, and I felt safe clutching your muscular forearm while you kindly escorted me back up the slippery ravine. Call me at ***-***-****.

Thank you for your bravery!

Bobbin Wages

Needless to say he never called.

Timber and I spent the majority of that fall semester carless, until Daddy replaced the Corolla with a Pepto-Bismol pink Geo Prism — his color choice perhaps punishment for the wreck. (While it was obviously generous of Daddy to buy us another car, a Pepto-Bismol pink Geo Prism is the kind of car you didn’t want to get when playing the game MASH in elementary school.)

As a result of Daddy’s transformed spending habits, Mother drives a new car and has made updates to the house she has wanted for more than 30 years. I hope that if a state-of-the-art luxury Alzheimer’s drug is approved and released, Daddy will buy it no matter the cost.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2012 4:21 am

    You are a great writer. Congrats on the marriage.

  2. November 11, 2012 10:26 am

    Thank you so much! (Sorry for the delay – I’ve been honeymooning, natch.)

  3. Timber permalink
    December 14, 2012 6:09 pm

    I remember that awful Jeep. It smelled more like tobacco than trout to me. Remember when Mother burst a blood vessel in her eye after I totaled the Corrina the Corolla? …and the front axle of the vehicle got caught on a dead tree. We weren’t stuck on a stump!

    • December 14, 2012 6:17 pm

      Yes, I remember Mother’s burst blood vessel.

      And thank you so much for checking my posts for total accuracy.

  4. January 29, 2013 11:24 am

    OMFG I nearly spit blueberry Gatorade all over my laptop when I read the love note to the Brave Man in Brown! Gut-buster, rhat thar.

    Coincidence 1: I, too, have been driven off of a mountain. We got lucky; we were in a Toyota Tacoma, and it hit two trees on the driver’s side. We dragged down those trees to the side of the mountain, and we were back on the road in 30 minutes with some tricky pushing, shoving, and 4-wheeling – in the snow! You just can’t kill a Tacoma.

    Coincidence 2: The first car I bought all by myself was a 1990 GEO Prism (in 2000). It lasted 5 years, until an illegal Mexican drove his boss’s huge pickup over the hood… in reverse… in a drive-thru at Taco Bell. He opened his door to mumble, “Sorry, mang,” then he ground his bed into and off of my smoking hood, peeling away into the distance to leave me baffled and enraged. Who cranks it into reverse in a drive-through? Little did I know… over the next four months, I would be hit three more times in a total of four separate incidents, one involving undercover cops (you can’t make this shit up), and two involving illegal Mexicans driving their trucks in reverse over the hoods of two of my fucking cars. FUCK. At least the cops paid. OK a lot of that is not coincidence, but the Prism is 🙂

    I named it “Shitty Shitty No Bang.”

    • January 29, 2013 3:04 pm

      Wow, your car tragedy vignettes could be a blog post in and of themselves. Why did so many people drive over your cars in reverse? The bigger question is, was THAT a matter of coincidence…

  5. January 30, 2013 3:21 pm

    Two unrelated illegals reversing in trucks, too! Oh, I’m not just assuming that, btw; the cops told me they were 100% certain they were illegals because I got the tag # each time (how could I not; they were up against my windshield), and the truck would be registered to a white man with a construction company suspected of hiring illegals. They never got any further than that, but that’s what happened. It would also explain why they reversed against the law of traffic (I’ve driven in Mexico; it’s different…) and why they ran away.

    More coincidence: Accident #3 involved an off-duty prison guard, aka a cop; he hit the rental car I was using after Accident #2 (2nd hood-crusher). Then, Accident #4 involved undercover cops on a drug sting. It happened right after I spent four hours detailing my car myself upon receiving it (dirty) from the body shop; I’d just left home to pick up my father to thank him with dinner for all his help during these wrecks. Pop ended up having to pick me up instead. 2005 was a weird year, I tell ya what.

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