Monday, January 17, 2011

Two Years!

January 8th market the second year with the silver '81 Citation X-11. Other than last year's "Homewrecker Tour" road trip to Forts Gaines and Morgan and the out-of-gas hike in May, I didn't have any big adventures in 2010. I replaced a few worn-out parts, but two days after I replaced the lower radiator hose in July I was in the hospital with a ruptured hose of my own. Since then, about all I can manage is driving. I'm a year late on an oil change, still have two motor mounts and a wiper motor sitting on the floorboard waiting to be installed, bodywork to do, a drooping headliner...I might be able to manage the oil change right now. She deserves better.

Even so, I'm still on the Honeymoon with this car. I know every sound--the whirring of the alternator, the creaking suspension on a cold morning, the grinding sound from the right-rear brakes when the humidity is high (my '83 did it too, even with new brakes), the slipping power-steering belt (chirps or screeches, depending on how embarrassing she wants to be). Some of things need fixing, yes, but they're still part of the character of a thirty-year-old car still running along when so many of her sisters are long gone.

The best way to describe the little flutter I still get when I see or drive it is to compare myself to Captain Malcolm Reynolds in "Firefly" or Han Solo in "Star Wars." Both of them are freighter captains, both running old ships that other people sneer at, either shrugging off the critiques or starting a bar fight. You've got to know your audience, after all. Can't beat on a paying customer, but that drunk Spacer who called your ship a flying shitheap kind of requires bare-knuckled diplomacy. Besides, what's a bar without a bar fight?

I used to get the same sort of ribbing over my '83 Citation from mechanic co-workers calling her a "Shitation," but I just shrugged it off because I can't fight without getting my ass whipped, I don't drink, and this isn't a movie.

Anyway, I've tried to describe this attitude I've had with my various cars, only to hear it described nicely in the final scene of "Serenity:"

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: But it ain't all buttons and charts, little albatross. You know what the first rule of flying is? Well, I suppose you do, since you already know what I'm about to say.

River Tam: I do. But I like to hear you say it.

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Love. You can learn all the math in the 'Verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as a turn of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurtin' before she keens. Makes her a home.

Sounds about right. Apparently I'm doing something right: she starts right up, gets me where I need to go, and just like her "little sister" did before her, she always brings me home. As long as there's gas.

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