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  • Writer's pictureStephanie

Big Engine Energy



 

Over on Twitter, people are posting photos of themselves that would be the cover of their album. So, this is mine: Big Engine Energy.


Much like the picture book, THE OLD TRUCK by Jerome and Jarrett Pumphrey, the 1973 Mercury Comet that once belonged to my dad's dad had many stories and memories riding on its wheels.


That little green car had a V8 engine with tremendous pickup. I once raced a Caddy in it and won. Problem was, if I ever went above 45 mph, the entire body of the car shook to blazes. But the thing was indestructible. If anyone got in an accident in it, you worried about the damage done to the other car. Not the damage done to the Comet. To this day, I doubt whether the Vomit Comet even could be dented.

And it was so heavy in the rear that it would fishtail like crazy in the winter. Sometimes it even managed to fishtail on dry pavements.

And then there was the tempermental horn.

The car was OLD. And the rubber holding the horn in place started peeling off in places.

There came a time when hot Minneapolis temperatures would make the horn go off.

On its own.

One afternoon, I was driving friends home from high school and the horn just started blaring. Completely on its own. I couldn't stop it!

There we were, sailing down Lake Street with car honking at drivers who were so so mad at me. My friends were yelling and I was frantically slapping at the horn trying to get it to stop but it just wouldn't.

It was freaking possessed.

And then the horn would just stop going off on its own -- like it had gotten it all out of its system -- only to start up again months later.


We were driving out to a tennis match in some suburb -- Mendota Heights or some other M-burb -- when it started up again.

This time I was driving my best friend as well as two JV players -- one was her little sister and the other was her little sister's best friend. They could not stop laughing at the damn horn. Then we got lost and had to stop for directions.


Now, the horn usually stopped blaring when the engine was off. But this time? When we got out of the car, each one of us slammed our doors separately and the horn honked each time.

We almost wet our tennis panties we were laughing so hard.

FINALLY. My parents had mechanics totally disconnect the horn so that only two bare wires were left.


If I wanted to honk at someone (or for someone since I was the one who picked everyone up for school), I had to touch the two wires together ... they'd spark and honk and it probably wasn't the safest thing?


But I could never anger-honk at bad drivers any more. It was like, "Oh, you asshole! Wait, let me take my hands off the wheel and put these wires together to give you a piece of my teenage driver mind!"


It also had butt sensors in the seats for the seatbelt alarm.


One of my friends thought it was the funniest thing to sit there, seatbelt off, and play a tune with the alarm by strategically lifting a cheek off the seat at various moments.


It also kept losing its hubcaps. One day, I turned a corner and the three remaining hubcaps all flew off in three different directions. My friend Brady leapt out of the car and chased each of them down for me.


It took forever to warm up in the winter. Not the engine, that was mostly fine, but the heat basically didn't come on until we had reached school.


It was such a fantastic ride.


God, I miss that car.

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