Friday, April 4, 2014

Driving Miss Mill Girl

Hey, everybody--I'm in sunny, oh-my-god-this-is-what-hot-feels-like-I'd-totally-forgotten Charlotte, NC! This is a vacation with no rules! No reservations, no plans. A few days with Little brother and Ligia at the beginning, and a few days with my lovely friends Robin and Noelle at the end. Whatever happens in between will be an adventure for us both.

For a trip like this, a girl needs wheels. Kudos to the nice lady at the rental joint who did a spectacular upsell on me.

Nice lady: Okay. Looks like you reserved the least expensive car we offer. Hmmm... No power windows. Is this correct?
Me: No power windows?
Nice lady: Nope.
Me: Well, I want to have all windows down at will.
Nice lady: Riiight. Well, we have the next size up for only $6 a day more. Do you want to do that? (big, friendly smile)
Me (tapping foot and using fingers to multiply 6 x 9): Yes! I want power windows.
Nice lady: Right? I totally understand. Actually, you can take that car right there. (points out enormous front windows to only car in front of the building)
Me: I'll take it!

I marched all happy-like out to this car

So I don't know about you, but I drive a car that uses one of these, and it's pretty straightforward business.

However, when I got to the car, I noticed that the voodoo lady at the rental joint had given me some newfangled contraption that looks like this.
A button? Okay. I can totally push a button.
Or can I?
I got myself all settled into this nice car. I took in the new car smell. I was starting to feel a little warm under the North Carolina sun, but it was so nice after months of gloomy snow in New Hampshire. Life is good.
Okay, so my first thought was that this push-button car was broken. No. That's crazy talk. And maybe it is a touch too warm in this car. I need to get a window open or something. And then, like an old person, I reached for the glove compartment and pulled out the owner's manual. Which was still shrinkwrapped. Great. I'm the only person who doesn't know how to push a damn button.
I went to Chapter 5: Starting the car (sign #1 that this is bullshit--someone had to write a chapter about that). Chapter 5 mentioned the ebrake. I looked around. Hmmm. Where is the ebrake? Well, let's plod on ahead to chapter 8, where it mentions the ebrake. Okay, it's that lever. Now back to chapter 5. Damn, it's getting hot in here.
The instructions: push the button. Yes, well, thanks. I'm sweating now. I push the button. A light flashes. I put it into drive. I let off the gas. Nothing. I do that about 17 more times.
I'm painfully aware at this point that the ladies in the rental joint must be watching and pooling bets on whether I'll ever get this piece of witchery out of the parking lot. Sweat is rolling down the sides of my face. ....I'll call Little brother.
LB: Hi, you almost here?
Me: Holy shit! They gave me a voodoo car with a button and I can't get it to go and I'm sweating like a baby forgotten on a hot day and all of the rental people are watching...
LB: What kind of car is it?
Me: What? I don't know. It's tan. I think. Not important. What's important is there's no key. NO KEY! A button! That's what I've got. And nothing happens when I push it. I'm sweating to death and I've been reading the owner's manual and ...
LB: You're reading the owner's manual? (I could hear the smile in his voice)
Me: Yes! I'm dying! I hate everything!
LB: Okay, so you pressed down the brake when you pushed the button, right?
Me: Huh?
LB: Yeah, let's try that.
Me (I do this and MAGIC HAPPENS--the dash lights up like a carnival): It's happening!
LB: Okay, so it's on now? Try putting it in drive.
Me: Glory be to god, I've rolled into the next parking spot!
LB: Okay, see you in 20.
I think I heard the rental ladies cheer as I pulled away.
The next step was figuring out a GPS for the first time (true story). And then it was a few miles of awkward this-isn't-right driving before I pulled over and read more of the manual and found that there's a "sporty drive" gear. I'm not feeing sporty at all at this point.
What little I take in of my upsetting first nine miles in that car is pretty awesome. I damn near had an emotional experience seeing green grass and blossoms on trees and flowers. I'll post pics of that tomorrow to help my New England people remember what colors look like.
To assuage my trauma when I reach Little brother's house, I promptly take a selfie with my nephew Stanley.

What? You think your human baby is awesomer? Please.

Then Little brother took me out to get some tequila and forget my woes. At the end of his street, we saw this dude.

It's hard to see, but he is talking into an old-school phone receiver (I'm talking 1982 curled cord) plugged into a cell phone and is talking on the side of the streets like it's no big deal. I was already happier.

As the tequila took hold, I noticed that stars from the window were reflecting on Little brother's face. I asked him to do me a solid and line it up to look like the guy from KISS.
I was in hysterics. Tequila makes things funnier.

Nailed it!
Little brother is a good man.

Later on, we scooped up my SIL, Ligia, and we went into the city to Pinky's. It's got a cool vibe, plays good music (Def Leppard just felt right last night), and serves fun food.

Yuengling and (proper) fried pickles!*

So I think the car will sit in a timeout until we can come to an understanding. But in the meantime, I'm happy to be here and relaxing. Cheers!

*Doc says I can eat gluten again, so I'm obliging and making up for three months of lost fried food and beer.

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