Thursday, October 13, 2005

I Told You I'd Come Back To It

Right then. The car.

Part I

Part II

Now Merritt Island boasts the only space shuttle launchpads on the face of the earth, but somehow mustering a properly functioning used car dealership is beyond it. When I rolled into Toyotaworld with the Bellemobile and Josh the Pilot, we were greeted by our salesman, who was eagerly anticipating his eleventh birthday. His name was Rodger. Like, with a “d.” And I’m no MBA, but it seems to me that when attempting to close a car sale, one should avoid the following:

1. Wear a nametag announcing yourself as, quote, “Rodger.”

2. Stand in the middle of a Toyota dealership talking about how awesome your Dodge Neon is.

3. Carefully listen to the potential customer specify that she wants to trade her Corolla as a down payment for another Corolla, then lead her to a tan four-door sedan, referring to it as a Corolla, and then, when the potential customer points out that this car is in fact a Camry, say, “Oh, wait, the Corolla’s over there. They’re the same color. I get confused when they’re the same color.”

4. Proudly reveal that your middle name is Elwood. Discuss in detail how you are seriously considering tattooing this on your knuckles.

5. Make the potential customer aware that you find her extremely old. Use the following tactics: Ask for her driver’s license prior to a test drive and announce, “1977? I thought you were older than me, but I didn’t think you were that old.”

6. After the customer has announced in no uncertain terms that she does not wish to buy a car that has any post-factory modifications, offer a test drive in a used ’01 Corolla S that has been severely pimped, to the extent one can pimp out a Corolla. Make sure the windows are smoked so that her students cannot see her reloading her Glock, and when she mentions that the CD player in the dash seems oddly placed, announce that this is because it was added in a post-factory modification.

7. When, during a test drive, if the potential customer begins to apply the brakes in central Florida and the car does not actually begin to roll to a stop until it has crossed the state border of Maryland, and she asks if any damage has been done to the brakes, say, “Why?”

8. Offer the potential customer a grand total of $1500 on a 1997 Corolla trade-in which works perfectly well, if one doesn’t mind a little car pee.

9. Wonder why she immediately stands to leave.

still apologizing to the Bellemobile for exposing her to Rodger at:

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Sibs

The baby girl at the next table would not let go of her older sister’s hair, and yet the three-year-old continued to placidly regard her French fries. It took a good amount of disentangling before their mother was able to redirect the infant’s attention to something less threatening to the tranquility of the restaurant.

“You and your sister were exactly like that,” said my mother, watching the sitcom unfold. “Exactly.” She shot the mother a sympathetic glance.

I was the hair puller; the youngest usually are. The agitator, the screamer, the oft-crying, the unemployed. And like many first-borns Julie the Nephewmama serenely endured-- sweeping up the aftermath, brokering parent-to-younger-sibling negotiations, upholding, downshifting. It is more fun to be the hair-puller; it is better for the character to be the phlegmatic French fry consumer, rarely exerting one’s own gravitational pull but serving as the balance to the familial solar system.

Yet as St. Paul tells us, one does not surpass the other in importance. The world requires older brothers and sisters to grow up to become accountants, marry responsibly, produce 2.5 children, keep the family finances on Quicken and mail out the Christmas thank-you notes before New Year’s. These are the souls who turn the world, bear society on the shoulder pads of their careerwear so that the hair-pullers may enjoy the freedom to write bad poetry, fail to eat the ends of the bread loaf, mock Jerry Springer and play Poison too loud. It is a noble way of life and a necessary one. From where I’m sitting (at two AM, in a dumpy computer chair, against the backdrop of the Crocodile Hunter cheerfully yanking a venomous snake out of a tree and entreating us to “CRIKEY HAVE A LOOK AT THIS LITTLE BEAUTY!”) it requires immense courage to arise at the same time five mornings a week, sit for eight hours in a fluorescently lit three-sided cube and come home to unfinished laundry and mortgage payments. I wish I could be more like that.

And yet if I were more like that, if indeed all of us who regularly fail to balance our checkbooks were more like that, there would be nothing but three-sided cubicles and mortgage payments. The earth would go without the Letterman monologue, Pop Rocks, the Mona Lisa, turquoise jogbras and professional wrestling (not, admittedly, an entirely bad thing.) We the flighty provide the workout music for Atlas siblings, pointing out the sweet cool green of the grass that requires cutting, smuggling in the occasional chocolate bar. Raw cookie dough, the Top Ten list, bad ‘80’s music: these are the lovely divine sparks separating us from the ants.

just thinking at:

Monday, October 10, 2005

I Am Eventually Going To Get To the Part About The Car, I Swear

Part I

The thing with performing any car-related transaction is, if you’re a woman, you need to bring a man with you. Father, brother, boyfriend, buddy-pal, cousin—doesn’t matter. Any penis will do. In a pinch, I recommend toting along a strap-on and slapping it on the table while demanding the $700 your ovaries will immediately add to the sticker price.

So I took along Josh the Pilot. I wanted him to see where I lived in Cocoa Beach before we met, which would have gone a lot better had my former apartment not ceased to exist.

That is how you go home again: “Here's the bar where I used to sell roses. That’s the McDonald’s I used to stop at on my way to work. Here's the other bar where I used to sell roses. And this… sand pit… is…where I used to live.”

This was a great apartment. $480 a month, right on the beach. It was maybe five blocks from the Cocoa Beach Pier. I recorded my very first cell phone message greeting while standing on the balcony; I kept it as long as humanly possible because you could actually hear the ocean in the background. People would call my voicemail just to relax.

I still carry the business card the 107 year old leasing office secretary gave me the day I walked in after my interview at the Kennedy Space Center, announcing I was looking for an apartment. “Sat.,” I had written on it, probably because that’s when the deposit was due. Or perhaps it says Gew├╝rztraminer.” I hate my handwriting.

I miss that place. There were screen doors and green plastic chairs, and it was a wonderful apartment to do business in if you didn’t mind the fact that you could only get your mail when the leasing office was open, which was approximately 4:22-5:07 AM. It was my first big-girl apartment, and I was getting paid to watch space shuttles launch, and I had just met my then-boyfriend, in Florida. I think I could have lived in Winslow Beach Garden Apartments exactly the way I found them last week and had been every bit as happy.

Nice little sidetrack at:

Many Thanks, Sincerely

Thank you to Teri the Reader for her generous rocking out with her awesome rockage. You rock, Teri!

Everybody Out of the Bomb Shelters

I feel so much better now; these, then, are the Bengals I know and am humiliated by. They didn't just lose. They lost because the quarterback fumbled the ball after running into HIS OWN WIDE RECEIVER.

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