Weekend Wanderer: My Not-So-New Car

personal growth for all

You may recall I scrapped my dad’s car.

I got rid of my mom’s car, too. Doing so was way more work and way less fun than getting rid of my dad’s car.

I mean, my mom’s car didn’t have unlabeled bottles of what my dad, AKA Indy, called “either vanilla extract or motor oil.” My mom’s car didn’t have PVC pipes. My mom’s car didn’t have rubber stamps from Camp Pendleton.

My mom’s car did have my uncle’s ashes in the trunk. For, like, years. But I moved the ashes to my garage, which I’m pretty sure my uncle doesn’t like because all kinds of unpleasantness has erupted since I put him there.

But there is no way he’s coming into the house. I’m sorry. Just, no.

I do have my deceased pets’ ashes in my house. I keep them in my bar. But that’s different. And a little off track. I was talking about my mom’s car.

My mom. AKA Willie.

When I decided — I decided, because nobody else was being the adult here — to take Willie’s car keys, she wasn’t happy.

With me. She wasn’t happy with me. So she did the one thing she could to exact revenge.

She gave me her car.

That probably sounds perfect, right? I do have a teenager learning to drive. A free, four-year-old car with 14,000 miles on it when I’m about to have a third driver in the house must seem like I’m Cinderella slipping into that glass shoe.

But Indy would say, “Just hold your horses.” So, I’ll say it, too. Willie is never that easy. I call her the Hotel California because you can check out any time you want, but you can never leave. I’m pretty sure she’s the beast Don Henley stabbed with his steely knives.

When I set about taking ownership of Willie’s car, I discovered her registration was missing. And expired.

After renewing the registration, we had to transfer the title from Willie to me. And that’s how I wound up at an auto tags place on a Friday afternoon with two very handicapped parents in tow.

As we pulled up to the auto tags store, Willie flipped open my visor mirror and touched up her lipstick.

“I wish you had told me we were getting pictures today,” she said. “I would have worn something different.”

“Why would they need your picture to transfer a title?” I asked.

“Why wouldn’t they”? Willie retorted.

I didn’t really have an answer for that.

“What about my title?” Indy piped up from the back seat.

I grimaced. I’m a little bit in trouble with Indy. My brother and I scrapped his car through his favorite radio station. The radio station sold Indy’s car for parts and took the proceeds as a donation.

But Indy was under the impression his 20th-century minivan with a dead battery and no back seats would bring a windfall. That I granted that windfall to someone else — even a beloved radio station — scored me no points with Indy.

I sidestepped Indy’s question with a question of my own. “Do you guys have your driver’s licenses on you?”

They did.

Expired. Both licenses.

Just like Willie’s inspection stickers.


But with the title transferred to me, I could get Willie’s car inspected. Except the auto tags place missed a signature. So a day later, I loaded Indy and Willie back into the car and hauled them over to the auto tags place for the second time in two days.

“Are we getting our picture taken?” Willie asked, lipstick in hand.

“Sure,” I said. Because if I explained we were just signing the title, Indy would ask me about his title, and I’d be in trouble all over again.

Title signed, I tried for that inspection.

And failed. Although I had driven Willie’s car around the Temple of Doom parking lot every week or so since I took the keys, the battery was as dead as my uncle in my garage and my pets in my bar.

I called my husband for a jump, explained it wasn’t the jump he was looking for, and waited for him to come to my aid.

And now we’ve arrived at the part of the story where I tell you about Willie’s fender.

It’s dangling from the front of Willie’s car.

And Willie’s car has been recalled.

That’s the first my husband has learned about the recall. Sorry, babe. As an apology, I am totally up for the jump you were actually looking for.

Oh — and none of this matters anyway. Willie wants her car back.

See, Willie directed me to give her car to my oldest child. But I told Willie my oldest was taking my husband’s car. My husband, in turn, would take Willie’s car.

And that just sent the whole thing sideways.

“No,” Willie said.

“No?” I asked.

“No,” Willie said.

Apparently, Willie didn’t give me her car for my husband to drive. She gave it to me for my child to drive. If I insisted on violating Willie’s wishes, well … maybe Willie would just take the car back.

“Hey,” I said, sidestepping yet another irate parent. “Let’s go to the DMV. Get your non-driver’s photo ID done.”

“Oh,” Willie said, obviously pleased. “Where’s my lipstick?”

Looks like I get to keep the car. For now.

The illegal, dead, recalled, crushed-fender car.

Well played, me. Well played.

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