When NewWifey(tm) took the plunge and decided to turn her passion into a business two years ago she very nearly crashed and burned the very first month. That’s because the very first month she had to drive our 2001 Ford Escape SUV with 245,000 miles on it from Mt. Krumpet, NJ to St. Louis, MO for her very first trade show.
The distance from Dangerhouse to St. Louis is 972 miles.
The Ford made it 971.
On the literal last turn that NewWifey(tm) needed to make on her trip, the exit ramp from I-70 into St. Louis, the Escape suddenly decided it didn’t want its steering wheel to work any more. Rather than turn, the car kept going on a straight trajectory across the lanes to the far barrier. At speed.
Fortunately NewWifey(tm) was able to instantly summoned her Furious IrishWoman strength and wrestle the beast to the side, stopping before hitting anything. She got out, popped the hood, and saw the steering belt had snapped. That’ll do it, alright.
She was actually in sight of the Expo Hall where she was supposed to make the big debut that would make or break her career in just a few hours. But instead of unpacking and setting up her presentation at a leisurely pace, as she’d planned, she was trudging down the shoulder of an unfamiliar highway trying to find an auto parts store that stocked a steering belt for a 15 year old Ford.
Incredibly she did find one rather quickly, quick enough that she was able to trudge back, replace the belt (she always travels with a full tool kit), drive to the hall, wash up, set out her wares, and rock her presentation as if nothing had happened.
When she called that night and told me about having to play mechanic I was sympathetic, but not surprised. This is the same little lady who’d already done a full exhaust replacement on that car in one afternoon (just scroll down and look at the pics) and diagnosed and replaced a bad ignition coil in a parking lot shortly after. My delicate little flower of womanhood. I think I’ll keep her.
Anyway, that was the first time the Escape balked at making a long journey. But it wasn’t the last. At least 3 or 4 other times the Ford stranded her on the side of some road either to, or from, a business gig. Once it completely shredded its manual transmission, and there was nothing she could do. It had to be towed, and then she had to spend 2 days in a fleabag motel waiting for a new one to be installed.
The last time it died it was at 3am on a backwoods pass in the middle of the Ozark Mountains. I’m firmly convinced that she only survived this one because a passing cop spotted her before the local redneck cannibals did. He drove her to a Ford dealership in the next town where she huddled next to the front door until they opened at 6 and she could buy the part she needed. They were kind enough to have a service guy give her a ride back to the dead Escape, and he even gave her a hand fixing it. Heart warming as that is, she’d had enough.
“I want a new car” she said – well, screamed – when she got back from that one.
“We can’t afford a new car” I said. “How about a used one? We could probably find something 5 or 6 years old in our price -”
“I want a new car! One with a warranty. One where they’ll send out a tow truck if you’re stuck and fix it for free. One that doesn’t smell like someone else’s McDonald’s wrappers. ONE THAT I DON’T HAVE TO CRAWL UNDER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND FIX BEFORE THE CANNIBALS GET ME.”
“We can’t afford a new car.”
But it turns out we could.
We got hit hard by the financial collapse of 2008, which is why we were still driving around in a 2001 SUV with almost a quarter of a million miles on the odometer. We’ve been clawing our way back ever since though, so even though we are still on pretty tenuous financial ground, some car dealerships were willing to extend us credit. On a NEW car, not used.
In the end we found a Nissan dealership that was trying to get the last of their “Rogue Select” models off the lot, dropping the price on their few remaining ones several thousand dollars AND offering an additional 2 G’s off to anyone who’d requested a test drive online (which we had). So what we were looking at was a brand new crossover SUV with a full factory warranty, anti-cannibal tow service, no pervasive fast food odors, and free “I Heart Nissan!” baseball cap for a bunch of Benjamins less than 20k.
And…they’d give us credit!
We drove it home. Or rather, NewWifey(tm) drove it home. I nursed the Escape behind her all the way back to Dangerhouse. The Nissan dealership didn’t want it even for scrap.
Turns out that for a bottom-of-the-line model, the Rogue Select is an awfully nice car. It’s really comfortable, and has plenty of space in the back for NewWifey(tm)’s inventory. Oh sure, I can quibble about its relatively low power, poor visibility (especially compared to our Subaru Forester, which is basically a rolling greenhouse), and its stupid CTV tranny. But those are all moot points, really. The thing is reliable, cruises comfortably at speed, and after now at least a half a dozen trips to stitching shows far and wide, NewWifey(tm) has not been consumed by man eating hillbillies. So it wins.
However, one thing has really started driving me nuts about the car. After a year of owning it, there are all these little chips in the paint. Tiny rocks, large rocks, grit, winter salt, all pelt the Rogue as it barrels down interstates for hours, sometimes days, at a time on the way to gigs. They blast through the top coat of paint and leave white flecks scattered all over on the ruby red body. I hate that. Aside from the aesthetic insult, I worry that water might get down to bare metal and start rusting away the things that hold it together. NewWifey(tm) could have the car fall apart under her during a trip and she’d get eaten by cannibals!
I can’t let my wife get eaten by cannibals. I decided to fix the chips.
The fix is easy enough. The dealership sells these nifty paint pens for just this purpose. They come with an abrasive “eraser” on one end, to smooth the edges of the chips, and the barrel is filled with paint that is matched to your car’s serial number. You can either dot the paint onto smaller chips with a ball point cap, or brush it on with a different cap. Then another part of the barrel shoots out a clear coating, that you smooth on with another thingy. I hope that’s not too technical.
So I picked one of those things up on my way home from work yesterday so I could get it done today. This morning I got dressed, unpacked the pen, and was reading the instructions at the kitchen table when NewWifey(tm) walked in.
“Whatcha got there?” she asked.
“It’s touch up paint for Miss Scarlet” I said. (WHY do chicks always name their cars?) “I’m gonna fill in all those little white craters.”
She looked at the box. “Let me do that. It’s just like putting on nail polish.”
“That’s ok” I said. “I’m sure I can handle this. I’m good at brushing stuff on pastries, remember. How much harder could this be?”
“Brushing pastries is nothing like doing nails. Trust me. Let me handle this, willya? You’re just gonna fuck it up.”
“I bet you I won’t.”
She rolled her eyes. “Fine. What do you want to bet?”
After agreeing on terms I was out the door, paint pen in hand.
It was a piece of cake. The technology they built into that little cylinder was pretty impressive. I ground the edge of each chip, applied a dot to some, a blob to others, and brushed each one smooth. All I had to do then was wait 10 minutes for the paint to set. Then I could apply the clear top coat and go in and collect my bet. Just 10 minutes…
And it started to rain.
A fast – and I mean fast – moving storm came blowing into our area while I was hunched over concentrating on white fleck. I didn’t even notice it getting darker, I was so intent on getting those stupid pockmarks filled. But I sure noticed when I got hit with a wall of sideways rain at about 40 mph.
I scrambled to roll up the windows on the Rogue before she filled with water, then sprinted up the driveway into the garage. The crummy imitation shearling slippers I was wearing were completely soaked by my third step, and you could count my chest hairs right through my now clear Ren and Stimpy t-shirt. This was a hard storm.
“How’s it going, Rembrandt?” NewWifey(tm) stood at the top of the basement stairs, arms folded.
“Fine” I said. “A little shower popped up out there, so I’m taking a break til it stops. I just have apply the final clear coat and it’ll be all done. Better get the KY and Anal-Eze ready, I’m gonna win this bet.”
She snorted and went back to her stitching.
I peeled off my sopping clothes and got in to new, dry ones. (I may have to throw out the slippers. The glue holding the rubber sole to the “man made uppers” seems to be water soluble, and is separating. 9 dollars sure don’t get you much in the way of footwear these days.)
After about 15 minutes the storm passed, the clouds parted, and except for some pools of water here and there you’d never know that just moments ago people were getting ready to board the Ark. It looked practically arid. I grabbed the pen and headed back down the driveway to apply the finishing touches to the Rogue. I could practically taste the KY.
But when I got to the car, this is what I saw:
Can you see them? Those discolored, blobby, streaky, wrinkled bits? Those were carefully smoothed over patches of fill-in paint, completely indistinguishable from the bodywork around it, just a half an hour before. The gale that sprang up blew a river of water so hard into my car that it splattered my carefully applied art work to smithereens!
I frantically tried rubbing them out with the abrasive eraser thing on the pen, but no dice. It just made things worse. I’m gonna have to go full tilt bodywork if I want to repair this damage now; sandpaper, primer, the whole thing.
Worst of all?
“You didn’t see the weather report this morning, did you?” NewWifey(tm) stood at the front door. She could see the car acne from there, no problemo. I knew she wasn’t gonna let me off the hook, but I had to try anyway.
“It was perfect!” I yelled. “It was just like brushing pastry! I shouldn’t be penalized for some stupid rain!”
“Sorry bud. A bet’s a bet. Get in here.”
Shit. I knew arguing further would be futile. I went inside.
Where she did this to me:
That was the bet. If my brushing skills weren’t up to snuff on the car, she got to use her brushing skills on me.
And I have to wear it for a week.
God, I hope it doesn’t rain….
Four Hours Later Update:
After seeing me mope around for a while, NewWifey(tm) showed some mercy.
“C’mere” she said. She took her shirt off, grabbed my painted hand, and placed it on her breast. “Doesn’t it look like a chick is rubbing your wife’s boob? That should cheer you up.”
It did! I rubbed and looked from as many angles as I could. NewWifey(tm) was looking too, and after a minute said “Y’know, that is pretty hot. Where’d you put that KY…?”
“Sorry” I said. “I just had my nails done. You’ll have to take a rain check.”
Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Just kidding. I fucked her.
And my nails looked perfect. Booyah!
Have a good night, kids. I’ll be back with my regular, ragged, UN-painted manly fingernails next time.
Er…I maybe wouldn’t bet on it, though. You never know….