April 18, 2011

power steering

i miss my tank.


when we landed in LA for those very strange few years, a car was an absolute must. i decided i wanted a used car for under $1000, and had no doubt that i could make this happen. i do get what i want.

i trolled craigslist, that treasure trove of The Deal, and came up with nothing. except, that is, cars from the 90s with too much mileage and not near enough looks. we took our best find to a mechanic to get it checked out, and when he pronounced it a clunker i could've cried with joy. the sweet girl trying to sell it did cry, but that was okay with me; she was checking ruggy out. and her boobs were WAY bigger than mine.

the mechanic promised to call us if anything came into the shop. he did, in fact, have an old car in the back, but he didn't think the "lady" would like it. that's because this gentleman had spent too many years in LA fixing cars for status obsessed women. i was not that woman. i piped up and asked to see the car immediately. okayaaaaaay, he said, butchu not gonna liiiiike it. 


the second we turned the corner and saw tank sitting there, ruggy knew we weren't going home without him. it was instant love. he had no AC. no stereo. no power steering. no power ANYTHING. but he would be mine.

my mechanic angel said he would tune him up, and i should come back with whatever i wanted to pay. i mean, whatever. just said to decide on a number. i obsessed for over a week. our thousand dollar limit had fallen considerably, as work was, shall we say, slow to start in lalaland. after much internet searching and dad interrogating of the worth of a 1981 honda civic wagon (the phrase "he should pay YOU to take it" came up on several used car forums), i decided.

i walked into the gas station with $200 but was too embarrassed to name my price. angel promised he would take whatever it was, because he could tell i was a good person. this does not happen in LA. i almost cried again as he smiled, put my pittance in his pocket, and gave me the keys. 


come on, how could you not love a man with this much junk in the trunk? we were kindred spirits.

i learned about coolant, and washed him once a week, and developed some kick ass upper arms from the sheer force it took to make a right turn. tank held my martini shaker of coffee with nary a spill, carried me safely across lanes of freeway traffic, and talked to me often, always in the gruff but kind voice of robert loggia.

i would drive up to job interviews, hair windblown and tiny battery operated radio shack speakers tinning out some jazz, and get the biggest, toothiest grins you've ever seen. tank just made peeps happy.


this is a rare shot of me in the backseat. it was not often i gave the keys over to ruggy-- he had his motorcycle. and for some reason, tank seemed to overheat on him.


i mean, all you had to do to avoid that was blast the heat and put him in neutral. no biggie.

but every time tank had a problem (which he did, oh yes) i took him back to my mechanic angel and he fixed him right up. 

then one day my angel retired, and i was suddenly back in NY, and without me, tank overheated more and more until finally he died of blown head gaskets. as ruggy puts it, his heart stopped ticking. when we finally packed up our LA digs, i watched them hook tank up to a flatbed and drive him away to a charity.

and then i DID cry.

have you ever fallen in love with a machine? did he sound like robert loggia, too?

16 comments:

  1. He DEFINITELY sounds like Robert Loggia. My favorite thing about Tank was his awesome old school horn buttons and Honda logo...

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  2. My First Car, and the only car I will ever love, was a 1980 Oldsmobile Omega ("not First, just Last"). I named her Mudhoney. She had a V6, could GO like a MFer. I spent three glorious months signaling with my arms b/c I could not get my blinker fixed!

    I also discovered you could fit 15 people in the car, counting the trunk, and it even had a truck hitch on it (which I used). It also went about 10 mph in neutral.

    I cried when it had to go, per my mother's insistence. I HATED my next car, of course.

    Thanks, I love talking about that car.

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  3. That is almost the most awesome care ever. The most awesome car ever was Mitzy and my son killed her last March. Every time I see a green 2000 Montero (which is frequently) I am convinced the insurance adjustor lied and didn't really total it but fixed her up and kept her for himself.

    Damn, I miss that truck.

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  4. I too had a few strange years in LA after leaving NYC, what is it about that place? And I ended up leaving my little Yaris (aka the Silver Bullet) behind and it was kind of sad. It was the best, fitting into teeny tiny LA parking spots where no other car could. I even buckled my sewing machine into the passenger seat so it wouldn't go flying on the freeway on my way to class. Oh, the good ol' days...

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  5. I have a confession...

    I'm a non-virgin who can't drive.

    I do OWN a car, but have to be driven around in it. I live within public transportable, taxi-able, bikeable distance of everywhere I need to go, pretty much.

    Our car is called 'Bleeno! Bleeno-Bleeno!' because it is Suzuki Baleeno and we like saying 'Bleeno! Bleeno-Bleeno!' whenever we get in it.

    We debate whether we might get rid of the car seeing as we hardly drive it. We really only need it for large grocery runs. But I saw a dad and two little kids riding around in one of these on the hipster side of town a few weeks ago and thought, ooooh, I want one, I love it!!! And I would be able to drive it!

    http://www.cargobikes.com.au/

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  6. I never had a car before, but I develop strange affections for inanimate objects. When Suzy, my old laptop, passed I was very depressed. Poor Suzy. Poor Tank.

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  7. i love these car stories!!! i imagine they're all having a can of motor oil somewhere together. mudhoney has mitzy hitched up, mitzy having just run over the insurance adjustor and needing to look innocent, and silver bullet is flirting with tank, who carried a rocketeer complete with sewing desk in his trunk several times.

    bleeno is rolling his eyes below on earth at the thought of emilykate riding around on one of those geeky bikes.

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  8. I have a care that i hated. Does that count? It was a '78 Mercury Comet (which sounds like it should be cool, but wasn't in 1986). The only good thing about it was that I could tell people it was formerly owned by nuns. This actually helped me once when I got pulled over in a routine traffic sweep of teenaged drivers (in my Comet Full Of Teenagers) and the cop came back and didn't give me a ticket (despite the heretofore unknown broken tail light) because, "I guess a car owned by nuns is probably ok." I'm sure he laughed all the way home.

    -sigh- maybe I do sort of miss that car.

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  9. that would be I have a "car" that I hated, not a "care". In case you were confused.

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  10. I've personally never fallen in love with a car, but I loved reading your story. I think this is officially my favorite post by you. You writing really made me want to fall in love with a car!

    @beangirl - formally owned by nuns? Too funny! You couldn't make something like that up if you had too. ;)

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  11. Poor Tank, he looks like he was pretty awesome! I love my new Joanie, with her CB radio and shiny red apple color :)

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  12. Plus, my old car, the Bus was awesome. Also a Volvo, but a station wagon. My dad is hoping to bring him?her? (it is a bit androgynous I guess) back to life! Its back wheels are locked :(

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  13. *** beangirl: i think you gave yourself away with that freudian slip. the nunmobile lives on.

    *** ashley: well thank you! one day you shall find your car love!

    **** lisette: the bus. the name alone speaks volumes. i hope your dad restores, erm... maybe the bus is transgender?

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  14. This made me miss my "Beast" so much. When my Grandfather passed, we got his pickup truck and I drove it faithfully up and down winding roads with no AC and a tape player. Even when I literally ditched the car after sliding on some ice, when they pulled it out, there was no damage. That monster can handle anything ... I may have to drive him when I go to my parents this weekend.

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  15. meg, i just saw this. i hope you drove the beast!

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  16. I loved reading this story! Even though I am the girliest girl alive, I love cars! I used drive a subaru WRX STI (and I raced it at the track) and my dad and I own a 1994 Ford Lightning truck. I'm so glad I found someone wmthat shares the same love for these awesome machines as I!

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i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied if not always written!