Monday, March 7, 2016

Engine Trouble

I’m pretty sure in a former life I was a ’29 Ford. Or a Volkswagen. But probably a Ford.

People didn’t use to drive Fords very hard back in twenty-nine. I think. I wasn’t around yet, but since the top speed back then was something like twenty, and the number of interstates was something like none, I think it’s safe to say that’s the reason you can still see ’29 Fords on the road today. Because nobody has ever driven them very far.

I, on the other hand, have been practically driven into the ground.

We have a Chevy Tahoe that currently boasts 226,000 miles on her odometer. She came to us with 19,000—all the rest of those miles are our fault. Our mechanic assured us she'd be good til at least 300,00 once we replaced that transmission. Last month, we gave her a whole new engine. She's in such good shape now, I'm pretty sure the undertaker is going to use her to transport us to our graves. 

I wish I was a Chevy Tahoe. They last forever.

“I’m fifty-nine,” I whined to my husband today, “and I’m starting to feel like a car on its last legs.”

“Cars don’t have legs,” he said dryly, screws clenched in his teeth as he balanced precariously on a ladder and installed new window shades in the guest room.

“Well, it feels like my chassis is coming apart and everything under the hood needs to be replaced. My locks don’t lock and my upholstery is sagging. My windshield is cracked and my headlights are out.”

“I love it when your headlights are out,” he said.

I don’t think he understands how serious this is. I got my second ever MRI recently because my lower back is too tight. My chiropractor, who ordered the test, was so concerned about the results when they came in that I had to track him down to read them to me. He’s young enough to be my son and smart enough not to point that out. So he told me what was wrong and didn’t blame my Starbucks addiction for any of it.

Nor did he mention the number of candles on my last birthday cake.

“There’s nothing really bad that showed up on the MRI,” he began. My spine stiffened some more. “There’s a little bit of arthritis going on—I gave you some yoga stretches to do, didn’t I?” he said.

Yoga. I tried that once and wound up in his office afterwards.

“So, let me clarify,” I said, after he finished converting the technical stuff on the report into Dr. Seuss style explanations. "All of this is normal for a woman my age?”

“Well,” he responded slowly. I hate slow responses. Because I can think, deduce and worry at the speed of light, nanoseconds before he finished his sentence I’d already written my own obituary.

“I’m never happy to read the words “disc extrusion” on an MRI,” he went on. And then he followed that up with words like “on the mild side of significant” and “minimal” and “the worst thing you can do is bend over and touch your toes.”

That’s when I felt like my windshield wiper fluid was about to overflow. Geez. Toe touches are my favorite thing to do.

So, here I am, an aging luxury coup with missing parts, a rusty frame, a fading paint job and high mileage. I’m going in to see that mechanic in a couple of days so he can show me how to keep my gears working without torquing my drive shaft. Or something.
Oh, I guess I should be grateful that my engine still starts every morning, even if I have to warm up my axles before I get rolling. And I may have to be a little more careful about taking the corners too fast and putting better oil in my system. But since I didn’t wake up in a junkyard today, there’s still plenty of life left in this old girl.

Maybe not as much as a ’29 Ford, but now that I think about it, I’d rather be a Volkswagen anyway. They’re not much to look at, but they’re still classics. People say they’re fun, they're bigger than they look, and their galvanized steel bodies are as tough as they come.

That’s pretty much me in a nutshell.

Just ask my chiropractor.

Thanks to Danzil Raines for the graphic that caught your attention.

For more great posts from his site, go to

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