Monday, June 13, 2011

The Test Drive

I knew the test drive of the speedy, stylish Hyundai Sonata wasn’t going well when I saw my wife, who was sitting in the passenger seat, pounding her fists on her headrest and making noises like she was being throttled from the back seat like Luca Brasi.

“What’s the matter?,” I asked as I brought the car to a stop.

“This damn headrest is pushing my head forward and giving me a headache,” she complained. “I can’t ride around for the next ten years with a crooked neck and a headache.”

We keep our cars for a long time. “But we’ve only gone around the block,” I whined.

Kathie is usually a gamer, but this seemed to be really giving her a problem.

I was crushed. I REALLY liked this car and I sensed that this was a game changer.

As we rolled into the dealership, Frank, the affable, overweight salesman, was waiting in the driveway. “Whatya think?,” he asked clearly expecting good news.

“The passenger side headrest gives her a headache,” I responded. “I think it’s a deal breaker.”

“Huh?,” he asked, his rubbery face contorting in stunned confusion. “But they are all like that,” he explained. “It’s a new Federal safety regulation.”

I can occasionally understand why conservatives get fed-up with government over-regulation, and I for one can’t understand why Obama wants us all driving around with our heads between our legs.

Frank, however, was not about to let this sale go quietly into the afternoon. “Let’s try adjusting the seat back,” he suggested.

With Kathie on board he gradually lowered the back of the seat until she pronounced that her head was comfortable. Unfortunately, by the time this was accomplished, she was in a three-quarter supine position.

“There!,” Frank shouted, sure the problem was solved and now the haggling could begin.

“I can’t ride around on my back. I’ll get car sick and I can’t knit,” my wife complained.

“Try rolling on your side,” he suggested.

Turning to me, the creative salesman asked: “Do you have a vise.”

“I drink too much and smoke cigars. What of it?,” I replied.

“No a VISE. You can put the prongs of the headrest in the vise and gradually bend them back; or you can rest the prongs on the pavement and hit them with a hammer.”

I had to admire his persistence, but a withering glance was my only response.

“Do YOU have this problem in the passenger seat?,” he asked me.

I said that, since I am a shrunken old man whose head slumps forward naturally, it was not an issue for me.

“Great! Then let her drive!,” Frank shot back, convinced this was a Eureka moment.

Still, our expressions told him that there was no way around the forward-thrusting headrest and he quietly slumped back into the showroom.

We continued on to the Subaru dealer. The salesman seemed surprised that the first question we asked pertained to the orientation of his product’s headrests. He confirmed that those on the Subaru also slant forward.

“I have only seen this as a problem for people with pony-tails,” he said.

While it was obvious that Kathie does not have a pony-tail, he seemed to be examining the back of her head to see if there was some sort of bony projection that might be contributing to her discomfort.

We had now both lost our enthusiasm for car shopping and returned home.

Later that evening, our son called to ask how we liked the Sonata. “We loved it, but the headrest gave your mother a headache,” I gloomily responded.

“I’m not surprised,” he said.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

For Sale: My Stink Bug Civil War Diorama

Kathie and I are not hoarders, but we are very much both I’ll-deal-with-that-laterers. This explains the unconscionable amount of stuff that has accumulated in our basement in the 35 years we have lived here.

With a move looming in the foreseeable future, I have been assigned the task of cleaning the basement and finding any treasures we might sell on eBay. I don’t have high hopes for this project because typically we throw out anything of value and retain the worthless leftovers of our lives.

Still I did find a few things that I think might go over big at the web auction site:

. A large quantity of Asian Stink Bug carcasses. How these poor creatures died I am sure would be the makings of a fine nature special, but dead they are and I wracked my brain for a way to turn dead bugs into bucks. Of course, they would have value to the entomologically inclined, but I decided to cash in on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, by creating a diorama of a battle between the blue and gray painted insects. I only have enough for a skirmish now, but by the way they are reproducing in our house, I will soon have enough for the whole three days of Gettysburg. I was discouraged to find, however, that there are a dozen Stink Bug Civil War Dioramas already on EBay, plus the work of one poor soul who was infested enough to stage the Normandy Invasion.

. My son’s sixth grade science project which is a realistic plaster-of-Paris rendition of Mount Vesuvius, complete with puffing smoke. Strangely, it is also a realistic rendition of the left cup of a brassiere worn by Madonna during her “Material Girl” tour, complete with puffing smoke. I have always thought my son spent an inordinate amount of time stroking the smooth, wet plaster into just the shape he desired. This should be big with eruption fans of all stripes.

. A rare CD of a lecture given by then Alaska Governor Sarah Palin explaining T.S. Eliot’s “Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock” to the juniors at Fairbanks High School: “He’s the one who was a-coming, he was a-going, he was a-Michelangelo-ing.” This will be of interest to illiteracy collectors everywhere.

. A nearly complete gallon of Martha Stewart’s “Heat Rash Rose.” According to “Rare Paints Digest”, only one gallon of this color was ever sold. Hey, we only used it as an accent color in our bathroom and it went perfectly with her “Deathly Pallor Gray.”

. Two dozen two piece plastic martini glasses. For some reason known only to the Chinese, these had detachable stems which detached when you raised your glass to your lips depositing four bucks worth of gin on your tie. Understandably, these are a highly sought after gift items by dry cleaners and liquor distributors.

Still, it seems a shame to sell off these things when the market for collectibles is at a low…..maybe we should hang onto them for awhile.