|I can see paradise by the...
Several years ago, I inherited my father-in-law's Saab.
It's a terrific car. It has way more power than my Honda Civic, plus the windows are automatic. It has a lot of buttons for things I still have no idea about. It's a fancier car than I'd ever had.
However. It now also gets all quitty when it's hot out and it has to sit in traffic.
Maybe some of you remember how last year my car and I both broke down in hysteria on Rock Creek Parkway at rush hour?
One of the things that I managed to tell Nick, through my sobs and inability to breathe or articulate, was that there was an icon on the dashboard that looked like a yellow submarine. It is number five on this chart, which I got from a UK site called The Auto Agency.
I'm pretty sure my friend Steve referred to number three the "butt crack" light. This makes me feel better.
I mean, do you know what all those symbols mean?
In any case, my car stopped, and we had it towed to the Saab place in Virginia.
They fixed what they thought it was, and then I drove it to the Outer Banks to hang out with Wendy and her family, and lo, on 95 in Friday rush hour, my car started doing that thing where I press on the pedal and it does...nothing. I knew this was the precursor to it flashing the yellow submarine light and then just plain stopping.
So I pulled off into a small town that coincidentally had a garage that was about to close. There was nothing they could do for me. So I bought the kids ice cream, which they proceeded to drip on the floor because the temperature was approximately one million degrees.
Nick suggested we let the car cool down, and then get ourselves to Potomac Mills, which was about five miles away. We could have dinner while a storm was due to roll in and drop the temperature significantly, after which point we could drive home.
We did all these things, as well as buying Jordan a pair of maroon Chuck Taylor shoes at Off 5th, which he then referred to as his "designer fashion sneakers".
Once the car cooled down, I drove it home without issue. Nick took it to the Saab place, and they replaced something, or two somethings, plus the part that keeps the gears from suddenly snapping, because that was about to go, which sounded rather alarming.
It's an old car.
So we did all these things and all was fine all winter. Longer than all winter, because it stayed cold cold cold forever.
And then in April I drove India and some friends to a birthday party in Leesburg. It was a hot, sunny day. And on the way back, on 66, my car started doing that nothing thing that it does when I press the pedal.
I knew it was about to get quitty. I was trying not to freak out.
But traffic was moving. I got our friends home just as my car flashed a bunch of lights and then stopped.
I turned it off and got it started again, drove the mile home, and left it for three days. I didn't even want to look at it. I was pissed.
We dropped it off about three weeks ago. Nick asked them to keep it until they figured out what was wrong with it.
Yesterday they said they've run through two tanks of gas trying to get it to quit. They left it running for eight hours, and then drove it home.
No stalling. They can't make it fail.
They said they're stumped. One idea they proffered was that maybe, just maybe, Nick's wife, which would be ME, had perhaps filled it up with regular gas, rather than premium. The engine is old, and at this point, kind of picky.
Now. I may not know what the yellow submarine light's real name is. I may thing that one of those lights looks like loops of spaghetti. And I may have Nick talk to the garage because I genuinely don't know what I'm talking about with cars.
All these things are true.
But. What's also true is that I am a first-born rule follower. And. I happen to know that the octane rating has to do with the temperature at which your car burns gas. I learned this on NPR. You have to use the right number for your car's engine.
(Even if you think it's annoying, because your Honda used cheaper gas and also never quit on you. But you had to work up to that crazy left-side merge into the GW Parkway to Alexandria, because your Honda didn't actually have the power to merge in with anything approaching alacrity.)
The fact is that we have two cars, when one of us rarely drives. We have no car payment, because both our cars are old as god, and mine was free. There would be no reason to buy a new car if we got rid of this one.
And I actually love this car. Except for the quittiness, which makes me very resentful.
This afternoon I'm picking up my car, crossing my fingers, and driving it back into the city. And then I'm basically never driving it to Virginia again.
What I really, really need is Car Talk. The Tappet Brothers would figure this business out.