I’ve never driven it. I never want to. It would be like pulling the curtain all the way to the side.
Here’s the deal. My significant other. My girlfriend. With whom I’m raising two children. Of the ages of nine and twelve. They ride around in a melting caramel of a car over hill and dale each and every day. There is no radio or air conditioning. There is no power steering.
It burns gas at a rate so alarming that the horror really manifests only when one understands the amount of oil it must be quenched with. The automobile in question is a 1991 Lexus 400 LS. LS stands for Luxury Sedan. Yeah. My woman owns and operates this car. Tanklike in countenance. It has been melting at some certain rate since before the internet came into it’s own. The mechanic made it clear there is no practical way to staunch it’s bleeding of life sustaining lubricants.
Some day it will bleed out.
It’s a large vehicle and she is petite. She appears as a muppet behind the wheel. Elbows above her head.
I cannot describe to you the contents of this vehicle accurately because on any given day it’s diversity is so volatile. Always textbooks and notebooks and backpacks, pens, pencils. Fast food cups and wrappers and sauce packets and burger boxes. Sundries like toilet paper or paper towels or canned beans, jello and yogurt, juice containers, water bottles in various stages of empty, tissues and napkins, cleats and socks.
A perpetually blinking instrument panel.
The passenger seat always a shin deep sea of detritus, it snaps and crackles when I position my feet. The back seat always hip deep in an ever changing ocean of flotsam and jetsam.
Every surface coated with sticky or oily or objectionable. Best to put your hands in your lap. I always feel like I’m riding in a petri dish.
The wind blows all days of the year in the car because it’s always too hot to operate without the windows down regardless of season. Napkins and styrofoam regularly hoovered out the windows by the constant vacuum. Receipts and candy wrappers, dust and mites, homework pages, fortunes from cookies, and sometimes paper currency, floating and pirouetting at eye level.
The sun hits the windshield when driving east in the morning or west in the afternoon and every eyeball in the cabin goes opaque because of the decades long assault by road debris.
Most interesting thing is the smell. It never smells like you might imagine. Not at all organic and rotting. In fact, it often smells good. Usually of lotions, hair products, perfumes and creams. Candles. Lip balm. Pastries even. It smells like girls. Girls smell good. At least the ones I’m fond of.
The entire mix becomes a maelstrom as the vehicle approaches 75-80 mph, a feat accomplished easily with a stomping of the accelerator. It’s engine remains robust as it roars and lurches us all back and forth with authority and aplomb. Still very fast. Still plenty of V8 power.
It rolls and rolls, on and on. Indestructible. One automobile, indefatigable, under God with liberty and justice for all.
What amazes me is they sing and they sleep. They do homework and they eat. On tablets, phones and kindles. They conduct all manner of the life cycle in that ocean of a backseat, in the melting maroon automobile. Hot as blazes. Sun beating in. Increasing the size and weight of the atmosphere tenfold. For hours every day. As they drive. While the car itself melts. Parts literally fall away. It drops the occasional pancreas or gallbladder and keeps on. Last time we had the brakes done, we had it’s appendix removed.
It’s a magical beast. It’s magical because I can’t believe it. It never fails. The girls sway back and forth with hair close behind across the backseat as mom steers through adversity and considerably less adept drivers. She does so expertly despite barely being able to see over the wheel or dashboard. She’s adept. I never really worry about them or myself in that car. It feels safe. Always. It’s no longer the original color of maroon. It’s now a sort of sun beaten burnt magenta. A rust hue, sort of sienna. Caramel. Melting. Impossibly slowly.
Drinks for my friends.