6.28.2008

R.I.P. Smurfette

I have not blogged for a while because I have been avoiding this blog. If I write about Smurfette, then it's for real - she's gone. Even though in reality she already is gone, I keep putting off the thought. It's like someone who refuses to believe that Elvis is really dead. LOL

I was jotting down some memories I had of my beloved car the other night and realized that I spent more time with my car than I did with my husband. I bought Smurfette just 2 weeks after I got back from England after we got married. She became my best friend. I saw her every day. I didn't see James for the majority of the first 2 years. Shana was on the phone with me when I stopped by the lot to say goodbye to Smurfette. She commented on the fact that she spent more miles in that car than any other - and she wasn't the one driving! Now imagine how many I spent in that car... No wonder I feel so attached to it. My cars always become an extension of me in some way. I don't quite understand it, but I start to believe they have feelings and personalities just like any of my friends. She really did feel like a comfortable, familiar close friend. I know most of you are thinking I've completely lost it, but I don't care. Good for you for not getting attached to your vehicles. I can't help it.

So not only did I put nearly 100,000 miles on this car in a little over 4 years, but between my dad, brother and I, we probably replaced everything on the car at least once and paid for it a dozen times over. That's the other bad thing about being attached to a car - you never know when to stop fixing it. I wish my brother was around so he could fix it now. Really. I would rather have Smurfette back with no air conditioning, than drive Charlie (that's what I named the new car, by the way). He's just not the same.

Back to the memories. So here are a bunch of them, in no particular order:
Before I bought a new battery, she used to die all over the place - and it most often happened at the post office near the airport. This one time it was sleeting and nasty and this woman helped give me a jump. The battery was so disgusting and junked up with leaking battery acid that we had to scrape it clean with this metal brush she just happened to have in her car. She gave me the tool and said I probably needed it more than her. The kindness of strangers :)

I lived on Meinecke and Humboldt for a while in Milwaukee. It was awesome because I had a garage spot. During the winter it rocked pretty hard because I didn't have to scrape my car off. One night it was snowing terribly and I had been at the Alano Club on Prospect Ave. My friend Becky wanted to venture out in the storm and go to Denny's. She had a 4-wheel drive truck, so we braved the unplowed roads and went to eat crap food. By the time we got back to the east side, it had snowed 12 inches and they still hadn't plowed. We had to dig Smurfette out of the parking lot and then attempt to drive to my apartment in Riverwest. There were a number of times where she had to push me because that little car had absolutely no traction or weight in the snow. After 40 minutes we finally made it to my block, only to discover that no one had plowed the alley to my garage yet. Becky had to push me all the way to the garage - and this is how I got the hole in my rear bumper. At one point, I remember just getting out of my car and laying in the snow because I was already soaking wet from getting out and trying to push it. Man I'm so glad I don't live in Wisconsin any more!

The one and only time I stole CDs from the Exclusive Company I got a lesson in instant Karma. I took 2 CDs - System of a Down "Toxicity" and Lords of Acid "Voodoo U" - I was replacing CDs that had been stolen from me. ironic. Anyway, I drove straight to Shana's house from work to help her set up her new laptop. It was broad daylight and I was only inside for 20 minutes. I came back to my car to find that someone had broke in and stolen my stereo. I got the point and returned the CDs I took the very next day.

I used to have a bunch of political bumper stickers on Smurfette. 3 days after my stereo was stolen, I was parked in front of my friend Debbie's house in West Allis. Again, it was broad daylight, and someone smashed my window in. They didn't take anything, just busted my window. My dad fixed it with a window from a junkyard, but when he fixed it, he took off all the political stickers because he insisted it was some crazy republican that smashed my window because they didn't like my blatant liberal propaganda.
I replaced all the stickers with band stickers. I liked that much better anyway.

Another time I broke down at the post office my friend Jonathan came all the way to the south side to give me a jump. It was the alternator that time, and it kept dying every 2 blocks. I finally just threw it in neutral and let him push me back to my grandmother's house. I'm pretty sure it was raining that time too. And Jonathan was about as gentle with the pushing as Becky was in the snow.

Danelle and I once drove up to Crivitz to go camping. I don't remember why we ended up in a hotel instead, but we had fun driving. I think we explored a lot of central Wisconsin that weekend as well.

Speaking of Danelle, I remember driving to Chicago on her birthday to see the Kaiser Chiefs. We were listening to Travis and when "Why Does it Always Rain on Me" started to play, it seriously started raining. It stopped shortly after the song was finished.

Another time I was driving on 894 and it was raining. "Yellow" was playing on the radio and my wiper blades kept time perfectly with the song. It was the only time that ever happened. I have tried it many times since, even with the same song, and could never get it to work again.

Smurfette was always with me as I picked James up from the airport. She was also there every time I had to take him there to go back to England. She saw a lot of my tears.

One time I picked James up and we went on a mini road trip. Well, it was a pretty major road trip considering I was the only one driving. We first went to Indianapolis. The only reason we stopped there was because I was exhausted from driving. The next day we drove to Louisville to see MUSE. We left and drove most of the night to Kansas City to see them there the following day. We stopped at a crappy roadside motel so James could experience that bit of Americana that for some reason was appealing to him. Ick. When we got to the Uptown Theatre in KC, I parked in front of this restaurant called Chubby's. We were at the venue quite early, and while we were standing in line to get it, I decided to put my hoodie in the car. As I walked up the street, I saw 4 guys pointing at Smurfette before they went into Chubby's. My heart started pounding as I was almost immediately certain those 4 men were MUSE and their manager. I tossed my hoodie in the back of my car and darted into the restaurant to use the bathroom. Sure enough, it was them. I tried to ready myself in the bathroom but had come down with the worst case of cottonmouth a non-smoker ever had! I stumbled out to their booth to stammer my "I Love You" and "You're my favorite band" and then ran back to get James and bring him to meet them. Matt Bellamy winked at me. Tom Kirk (their manager) recognized James from his flight. Then Matt randomly asked if James skateboarded. So weird. But I was able to settle my imploding heart by meeting my favorite band in the whole world - and it was all because they were pointing at the MUSE stickers on Smurfette.

Theresa and I drove to Minneapolis to see MUSE at the State Theatre. I had scored 2nd row orchestra pit tickets on eBay and drove the whole 6 hours straight there (since Theresa doesn't drive). Smurfette's air conditioning had just broke, and it was seriously 85 degrees the whole way there. It was an amazing show - and they played Assassin, my favorite song on BH&R. After the show was done, the security guard let me stay there to try to get a set list. The drum tech walked directly to me, and handed me one of Dom's drumsticks. I could have died! I got a DOMstick! I think I carried it around for 3 days. The drive back was so much fun, even if we didn't get home until 6am.

Later that day (after I slept for 2 or 3 hours), Shana, James and I drove down to see MUSE in Chicago. I can't remember if I drove or not now. Probably not, so this story doesn't belong in this blog!

Another time we drove to see MUSE was all the way down in Tinley Park at the Tweeter Center. It was the Curiosa Festival and Shana had bought us tickets for some special reason. It was a horrendous drive with terrible construction traffic. We got there and found out that Chris broke his wrist earlier that day and MUSE were not playing. I sat down and cried. I didn't care about the Cure. I drove 3 1/2 hours to see MUSE! Dammit. We nicked one of the signs that said "MUSE will not be performing due to injury" and Tom Kirk took a picture of Shana and I holding it. It's still on their website.

Shana and I drove to Chicago to see MUSE at the Riviera Theatre. That was the first time we saw them. I don't think Smurfette's CD player had anything but MUSE in it for 2 weeks before and after that show.

Shana and I drove to Denver to see MUSE at Red Rocks Amphitheater. That was a grueling trip for Shana. It energized me. It was the first time Smurfette had been in the mountains and she did awesome. We picked Amy up from the airport there and the 3 of us drove up to the most godly venue ever. Denver was eerily full of nice people. It was sorta like the Twilight Zone. On the way back from Denver, I treated Smurfette to new windshield wipers. She totally deserved them.

I was a Jimmy John's delivery driver for a brief time the first year I was back from England. That was awesome. Driving a small manual transmission car around downtown Milwaukee was super fun. I made tons of money in tips, but every single shift I worked I acquired a parking ticket. It sorta zeroed everything out. The best part was that I was the only female driver and all the guys were impressed because none of them had manual transmissions. So apparently that made me even cooler. :D

I finally broke down and got car insurance in March of 2005. The reason: I had to pick up Panic! at the Disco from the Rave and drive them to the Exclusive Company. It was the first time I cleaned Smurfette inside and out since purchasing her a year earlier. I had that band of cute little boys squeezed into the little Ford Escort. A million little girls would have killed to be me.
Smurfette has also chauffeured members of Reel Big Fish and Suburban Legends.

In the middle of moving one of the many many times from the south side to the east side or Riverwest, I broke the little trunk divider on the hatch. I'm glad I did because I then discovered that I could sleep in the car easier without that there. I first slept in the car at Green Lake a couple years ago. One bad thing about sleeping in the car in August is that a car doesn't keep out allergens as well as a house. BOO!

Once I figured out that sleeping in Smurfette was sometimes more comfortable than sleeping in my bed, I realized it would be easier to take a solo road trip and not have to pay for a hotel. The first time I tried it was last December coming down to Florida. It was an amazing trip and she was so good to me. She handled the mountains wonderfully. I was a mile away from my destination and I was on the phone with Melanie when she asked how my car was. I literally said "this car is amazing. she hasn't given me any problems" when the accelerator pinned and the car died. Luckily Jacek checked it out and the throttle cable needed some WD40. Phew!

I drove to Chicago by myself one night to see Mew play at the Metro. It was a completely spiritual experience and I left the show as soon as they finished to find the most torrential downpour I had ever seen. I was driving the LSD and I couldn't go more than 15 mph because it was raining so hard, mixed with hail. I was terrified that my windshield would shatter (I had a crack that started 2 months after I got the car - thanks to a semi and a rock). On the way back to Milwaukee I-94 was flooded in 3 different spots. People were pulled over and stalled all over the road. But Smurfette was never afraid of water.

This winter pummeled Smurfette. The roads in Milwaukee were so terrible for so long, and there was so much salt everywhere that she really didn't have much of a chance. From November until January I had to have both tie rods replaced, the entire exhaust system (because it rusted straight through), both wheel bearings, and the crack in the windshield finally reached the other side because of the wild below zero temps mixed with random 40 degree days. One of the crazy snow storms dumped 18 inches on us in one day. I was staying with my friend Theresa on Oakland and Newberry at that time and the city of Milwaukee had plowed the snow into the middle of the boulevard. Stop signs were nearly covered up. I was driving cautiously when a kid ran a stop sign (that was hidden in snow) and hit my bumper. I was supposed to leave on my epic journey the very next day. That set my road trip back a week or so. That's when Smurfette acquired a maroon front bumper. I really wanted to get a white one so she could have a white smurf hat. Oh well. Once I made my way across the northeast I found out the rest of the under body had completely rusted. I had to have both trailing links replaced because the rear wheels were about to fall off. All the parts connected to my gas tank also rusted and caused a wonderful leak. Once those things were repaired I was on my way again, only to get to Florida and have more things fall apart :(

The guys at Midas on 27th Street (near Layton) probably have 1/3 less business since I've not been around! Sean and his employees were always so nice to me. They cut me a couple deals. Go see them if you need work done in the Milwaukee area.

Another road trip I almost forgot about: Shana and I drove to Detroit to see Editors. That should have only been a 6 hour drive, but it took more than 10 either way. We got stuck in traffic in the middle of nowhere in Michigan for an hour. Stopped dead. The guy behind us rear-ended us at one point. He got out of the car and apologized saying that his foot slipped off the break and he didn't mean to. Then we had to sit there and say shitty things about him in my rear-view mirror for another half hour before traffic started to move again. We had an amazing heart-to-heart in that traffic.

On this most recent adventure, Smurfette and I really bonded. She was all I had in between visits with friends. The first week of my adventure I depended on the familiarity of my car to keep me sane. We went to some amazing places... Akron to Dr Bob's house, Niagara Falls, NYC, Boston (I still think she's mad at me for that one), DC, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the ocean, Kerouac's grave... so many special things. I really gave her a last hurrah. I'll miss my little car so much. Every time I come out of a store, I instinctively look for that bright electric blue. But now I find a dull grey - and often can't figure out where it is that I parked because Charlie looks like everyone else's car. *le sigh*

In the 4 years that Smurfette and I spent together we made it to 30 of the 50 states. The best gas mileage we ever logged was 43 mpg in Iowa on the way back from Red Rocks (Shana drove like a grandma to beat my previous record of 39 mpg).
So thank you, Smurfette, for keeping me safe in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Nebraska, Colorado, Ohio, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. I'll miss you terribly.

2 comments:

Aaron said...

Best Eulogy ever!

Scholar and Sailor said...

Sniff. Sniff.