Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Golden Age of Motoring

These people are actually really hot

My car's AC went out early this month, so I've been driving around in a kiln. I should be firing pottery on the back seat, while I'm running to the store and such. On Saturday, Lilah and I drove up to Excelsior Springs in 95 degree heat, to see Laura and Marc play at the Willow Spring Mercantile. I warned her it would be a long hot drive, but she came anyway. We ordered tall cold drinks at Willow Spring to recover. She got lemonade and I got an apricot mango tea that had peach nectar and syrup added to it, "in the southern tradition." It was wonderful. And seeing Laura and Marc play was worth a mild case of heatstroke.

I had planned to take the car into the shop this week, to get the AC fixed. But Sunday one of my power windows went out. It won't go back up. The mechanic says it will cost a heap of money to get the window fixed, and a heap of money to get the AC fixed. I got a leaky condensor.

Spend two heaps of money, or just one? If only one, which one? Better to roast slowly to a crisp, or risk the entry of rain, thieves, and wild animals? Funny how both mechanical failures affect my protection from the elements.

I'm at that point where I don't wanna sink a whole lot more money into this car. It's a good car. A classic Toyota Corolla from the 90's, before the era of runaway gas pedals. The engine is strong. The car starts up without a whimper, in all sorts of weather. But it's starting to rust and is slowly falling to pieces. The hinge on the sun-roof is broken, and so I have the roof duct-taped to keep it from rattling. The inside front passenger doorknob is broken. The CD player skips. The odometer clocks in at 210,000 miles. So maybe I should break down and get a newer car, but I like not having a car payment. It allows me to imagine that I'm not a slave to the man.

In the meantime, laying down 5 Benji's to put this jalopy on ice seems like an extravagence. So I'm gonna tough it out and go without AC. No factory air blowing fresh breezes on my skin. But it's okay. Summer's almost over. Just July and August left to go. What I'm telling myself and how I prefer to think of it, is that I'm returning to the golden age of motoring. Back to the days of shiny fins and chrome, when the highway was king, and people were sweating their butts off. I read that in 1960, only 20% of cars had air conditioning. By 1969, 54% of American cars were equipped with air conditioning. That means that the astronauts likely had air conditioning in their sports cars, but half the families who watched the first moon landing on July 20, 1969, didn't. Somehow that makes me feel better.

I am getting my window fixed. Like Gary Numan, I want to lock all my doors. And roll up my windows, when it's not 90 degrees. I want my car to be an insular bubble, keeping out the rest of the world. So no, I won't be taping garbage bags to my window just yet. But when the next window goes...

(insert eerie high-pitched wail of synth music here)


  1. I remember a long road trip with no AC where we took turns wearing our one pair of sunglasses (the first moment of wearing them created the illusion of a temperature change). And don't forget about putting a wet bandanna around your neck to create your own personal cooling system. Also, wear skirts -- you can pull them up around your waist until you reach your desination! Obviously, I know from driving with no AC.

  2. yeah...and when you have your skirt up around your waist, you'll def get lots of attention from the truckers!! if you like that sort of thing.... i remember a trip to kc with the family,,in the summer,,and it was MISERABLE. were we going to swope park? all i remember that it was hot and humid and i wasn't at all happy. great post simone! it made me laugh,,and remember.

  3. I'm laughing about the sunglasses trick, and the fact that you had to TAKE TURNS to get even the one momentary sensation of relief they gave you.

    I wonder if that trip to KC was when I was a baby. I swear to god I remember you and Michele by a swimming pool in bathing suits. A very dim, very brief memory. But I think that was when I was a baby. I also remember someone holding me up to a window and showing me the neon sign of a motel, and I remember it seemed like the most magical sight ever.

  4. They can "block" those windows up temporarily so they're up all the time, if you want to save some dollars. Then you'll really have a kiln.

    Yeah, the trip to KC was pretty awful. It didn't seem like there was much fun to do when we got there and it was just a million degrees out.

  5. in the latest edition of the ness county news, someone is selling a 2005 toyota corolla. and i think the windows and ac work. our little 86 camry has the ole manual roll up windows,,but the ac still works! and the clock! what a car.

  6. yeah, you can't have bugs getting into your car at night. BUGS!! CREEPY CRAWLIES!!

    i remember trips in that pink rambler - i was probably too young to really sweat, however. i don't remember being hot. on the other hand, we had to leave well before the ass-crack of dawn. i used to get this feeling of anticipation mixed with nausea. later, as you may recall, the nausea culminated in a roadside puke.

  7. Laura, I am loving your last sentence. I have to re-read it over and over again, I love it so much.