now that it’s settled, I can tell you everything (1)

The date: January 30, 2003

The players: Erinire and Christina

The mission: Drive to NYC for a fantabulous New Year’s celebration, return home in one piece.

We did not have an auspicious beginning. Although I awoke in good spirits, I’d been up late drinking Plum Wine, and the devil juice began to wreak it’s foul curse around ten AM. I spent a satisfying half hour in the bathroom prior to departure, which I probably should have taken as a sign of things to come.

Once the (mercifully brief) hangover was out of my system, I threw my shit in a bag and headed out the door, Christina in tow. She had come to Boston to visit me, and after spending three or four days living life my way (read: sitting around and eating a lot), was ready to get back to the Big Apple for some serious showstopping partying. We were armed with a shit-ton of makeup, champagne, and sequins to spare – it was a gorgeous winter day, and as we sped south down 95 I remember being overcome with wonder that this was my LIFE, and fuck me, it was AWESOME.

We were making great time, and so when we got to Greenwich off the Meritt we decided to take a detour and gawk at the mansions. As I pulled off the highway, I felt an odd… TUGGING as I shifted. Some hesitation or something, I wasn’t really sure. The sensation reminded me vaguely of a trip I took during my freshman year of college in the dead of winter in a car with no heat. My roommate, her friend Jody, and I were driving from Syracuse to Boston and had spent all our money on a couple cartons of Camel Wide Lights at the Indian reservation. Broke, tired, and stoned, we were most dismayed when the car’s transmission shit the bed somewhere near Worcester.

But it couldn’t be my transmission. I bought a standard so that I wouldn’t have to DEAL with transmissions anymore. And those transmission failures felt different. No. This was definitely not the transmission. I white-knuckled my way back onto the highway and breathed a sigh of relief when we made it back up to 75mph. Then, just as I began to relax, I felt it again. A… SHUDDER. Or something. Something like a shudder or something. Something like a shudder that was not the transmission.

By the time we hit Manhattan, I could deny the problem no longer, although I didn’t say anything to Christina until hours later. I was gently pushing through each shift, saying a little prayer each time I came to a complete stop, only to say another Hail Mary as I tried to start again. When we found a parking space near our crash pad, I kissed the sidewalk and almost wet myself with joy.

Luckily, we had planned a trip to the suburbs for the next day. I followed Christina and our friend Greg out to Westchester, facing certain doom as my little car chugged its way through the Bronx. I had visions of myself stranded on the side of the parkway, desperately trying to flag down a samaratin motorist before the resident gangs had their way with the white girl from Boston. (Overdramatic, yes, but YOU try driving through the outer boroughs in a car that drives like it’s on the verge of nervous collapse. It’ll bring out the hysteric in you, too.)

Through some stroke of luck, I made it to the dealership without incident and left it for the day. “I think it’s probably just the air filter” I told the guy on duty, knowing that was, at best, a hopeful lie.

When we returned, hours later, the mechanic confirmed my worst fears. Not only was my transmission leaking fluid, but it also seemed that a part had come loose from the inside and was rattling around causing trouble.

“Can I make it back to Boston?” I asked.

“Um, that’s probably not a great idea”

“I mean, what are the odds?”

“Do you have triple A?”

I did not. Nevertheless, I was determined to drive the car home. I figured I could stock up on coolant or whatever, and even if I had to stop everh half-hour to refill… you know, whatever had to be refilled… I’d just do it. I’m a tough cookie, I can take it.

Christina was visiting her old employers and their kids (she used to be a nanny), and when I met her after my appointment she could tell from the look on my face that the news was not good. The husband was a huge car buff, and offered to take a look at it for me. I trailed along like a puppy dog, hoping somehow that he would wave a magic car-buff wand and make everything ok. He opened up the hood.

“What the FUCK?”

I gathered that things were about to get worse. He got down on his knees and shone a flashlight under the car.

“You see that under there?”

I peered a the oddly-colored puddle on the ground.

“That’s your transmission fluid. ALL OF your transmission fluid.”

“Does that mean i can’t drive home?”

He looked at me like I was retarded. I took that to be a “no”.

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