by Lisa

My car requires some changes.

I chose “changes” rather than “repairs” because right now, it starts, goes, and stops when I ask it to do those things.  However, when a sleeper-sofa lands on a car, that sofa makes some changes of its own.  It’s time to change some of the things back again.

The car of my dreams is not a two-door Honda Accord, but the thing runs like a tank.  Because this tank is paid for and cheap to insure, making it into the car of my dreams is simpler and less financially risky than selling it and starting fresh with an unknown machine.  The sensible car can be my Dream Machine.

(Just an aside: does anyone miss Baskin Robbins as much as I do?  Seriously, I just saw a commercial and memories of laboring over the BIG DECISION based on 31 flavors came rushing back.  I always went with very exotic French Vanilla, by the way.  Chocolate ice cream was a staple at home AND IS THE BEST FLAVOR ALWAYS, but even at eleven, I had francophile leanings.)

So, this sleeper-sofa ripped the driver side mirror off of my tiny tank and barely dented and scratched the door.  The body shops who inspected this damage want a lot of money to undo these changes.

I know how to navigate a junk yard. I know how to replace a side mirror.  I like using tools to take things apart and especially to put them together in different order.

The little dent seems comparable to a scar: it carries with it a story, not negative if no one was seriously injured.  I drove a Chevy Blazer for twelve years, and for ten of those years, my front bumper stayed smashed into a huge snarl because I hit a signpost in the parking lot of Great Clips.  Simple version: she chopped off my waist-length natural blonde hair in two great hacks, not clips,  and took “long wispy layers” to mean “Carol Brady”.  I cried when I got outside, and blinded by the setting sun, I did not see the sign for the shopping center on parking space in front of my truck.  Lesson?  Cry over your hair, and the universe will give you something to cry about.

So, I didn’t cry about the skyfalling sofa.  No one got hurt, and the trash company that sent the sofa sailing just cut me a check.  On the day of the drop, I walked out of the house hoping that it’d just be totaled.  Now, I’m relieved that so little damage happened, because I respect my car’s never-say-uncle constitution.  It goes.

One little problem is the stopping.  Now and then, things get sludgy and squishy and squeaky,  and the light comes on.  Time for brakes?  Yes.

Another little problem is the clanging.  When I drive over pot holes, I’m reminded of that one time I landed poorly off the ferry and heard a serious bang.  Ever since then, the little rattle has become a very subtle (but very loud to me) gonging.  Gong, clang, worry worry worry.  That’s me doing the worrying, not the Honda.  The Accord abides.

Here’s the plan: Autozone or junk yard for mirror.  A pair of chromey truck mirrors would be cool, actually, but I’ll probably get one to match the car if one can be found.  The idea of digging into an old car for parts gets my heart fluttering.

Brakes.  Essential.  I know that they’re protesting now, and they need to be given attention before they stage a strike and the pedal hits the floor.  That happened in the Blazer once, and that was the day I learned that my ability to set panic aside for a moment to deal with a urgent present mess was a skill that did carry over from my younger days.  It’s all in the downshifting, friends.

Metaphor there?

And the clanging could be anything, but it seems ominous and evil.  My lovely mechanic will tell me all about it.  He talks to me like I’m not a girl, even though he does compliment my toes when I have a fresh pedicure.  I think he’s slept with at least one of my boyfriends, but I don’t have hard evidence and of course no hard feelings.  We get along well like that.   Maybe he can make the bumper look straight, too, *pun pun pun*.


Now, here’s the best part of Plan Dream Machine…


If repair funds remain after brakes and clanging are cured, then…

If such a thing can be found to fit, a roof rack comes next, with a flat cargo basket clamped upon it.  Think Mad Max camping sedan, and you’re getting close.

I know a hitch will fit, but a pro can do that work.  Lowering an exhaust system on a car that already drags the street sounds hellish.

Lastly, I’m going to paint it myself.  Not all over, but in stages.

So, little Honda Accord Coupe with a little dent in the door and a crooked back bumper, you’re getting a very practical makeover with a  life-as-art paint job.  By me.  I used to be a Real Artist, too.

I’ve always held off adding things to my vehicles in the name of resale value (though I’ve always driven my cars until the wheels fall off), avoiding the embarrassment of my former spouse or current children (whom I managed to embarrass anyway with my idea of essential cargo), and expecting the “perfect” vehicle for my life to come along to be modified to suit me.  What’s obvious now is that there’s no such thing as perfect.  There’s now.

Now is as good as ever.  Maybe better.