Jill and I want to buy a car, the first for us since Alex was about 2. I found our last car on a street in Queens on one Mother’s Day with a smashed rear window and a raped dashboard where they’d yanked the radio.
Last time I bought a car I thumbed classifieds that left my fingertips inked. I wound up with a dark blue Ford Taurus the automatic transmission of which ground itself to silvery dust on a freeway one afternoon while Jill happened to be behind the wheel. Jill picked the next used car based on what to this day I regard as common sense that I’m happy I married: low miles.
Now she wants a car so we can strap the guys into the backseat and press the accelerator and just go. We read the ads on Craigslist (which didn’t exist last time):
“2008 KIA SPECTRA MANUAL 68K MILES LIKE NEW LOOOOOOOOOOOOKKKKKKKKKKKKKK - $4999 … PERFECT CAR; 67K MILES.......POWER WINDOWS, LOCKS, KEYLESS ENTRY; NON-SMOKER … MANUAL TRANSMISSION … AFTERMARKET EXHAUST … MAKES A NICE SOUND … RUNS NEW- NEVER IN ACCIDENT. NO ISSUES AT ALL.” Makes a nice sound? Once upon a time I did, too.
And another ad: $2800. Manual 5 Speed. 149K mileage. Mew water pump and timing belt just installed. New brakes. Price is Firm $2800.
So Jill – she’s the one who actually wants to buy a car, which I think I mentioned – harps at me via email. I know nothing about cars – I moved to New York City so I wouldn’t have to know squat about cars. But my old friend Tom up near Boston knows cars. He used to fiddle and clank around with the cars I owned a lifetime ago in Ithaca. God, he could lift her up on the, well, lift and twist something around and around and cut new groves that those nuts that go on when you get a flat tire.
I question him about owning a car now. He says plan on paying five or 10 grand for car that will fit our purposes. He recommends Kias or Hyundais (crap when I shopped last for wheels). I tell him that we have been using Zipcar, where you rent by the hour and Zipcar even pays for the gas. “Oooooo,” Tom groans, letting out the relief of not having to deal with the fullness of the tank.
After a few days of looking I’m already sick of car ads, and get giggy with them in email.
BUY THIS CAR!!!
BUY THIS FRACKIN' CAR!!!! $7,800, cash only. In tens.
RE-BUILT EVERYTHING!!!!!! NEVER TOTALED!!!!!! NEVER WRECKED!!!!! NEVER SET ON FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
2 billion miles, but one owner (a Klingon). BUY THIS CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(... why aren't you calling? ...)
“This posting has been flagged for removal,” CraigsList says about one of our hottest prospects. This ad mentioned “rebuilt title.” Tom, reading that, said he wanted to know what a “rebuilt title” was. Stolen? Totaled?
“Sorry,” Tom emails back, “no time to react. I gotta go buy that car. Anybody lend me a few tens?”
2 NEW TIRES!! NEVER HIT WITH A PHOTON TORPEDO!!!!!! RUNS LIKE NEW!!!!!!!!!!! NON-SMOKER!!!!!"
Jill emails that since we’ve been shopping online for a car “suddenly all my ads are about buying cars. Every single one. BUY THIS CAR RIGHT NOW BEFORE THE KRONOS HIGH COUNCIL LEARNS WHAT'S HAPPENED (... clean interior ...)
“LOL,” emails Jill.
If you're laughing, you can't call. Why aren't you calling? Search me. I thought I lived in New York so I wouldn’t have to go through this. I wish I had new brakes.