Last week the price of gas forced us to switch cars, and now instead of driving around in our mammoth SUV we’re folding our bodies to fit inside the two-door 2000 Honda Civic that has been parked for months inside our garage. It is a car I could fit in my front pocket. We tried this about two years ago and gave up after a few months because of the subsequent back aches, but this time we’ve promised ourselves that we’d give it a more hearty go. For me that meant we had to recharge its ailing air conditioning unit, but for Jon this meant we had to upgrade its stereo. That right there is a pretty clear delineation of our varying priorities, that I would prefer the family not die of heat and he’d prefer that if we did at least we’d go out keeping it real.
So we had the air conditioning fixed, and that has helped the temperature of the car somewhat, as much as you can help a car that is jet black and so full of tall human bodies that in order to breathe air we have to suck it through a straw poking out the top of the window. I actually think the weak air conditioning is a bit of an environmentally friendly feature because it makes us want to drive less. Do we really need those groceries? If it means I have to sit through that twenty-minute red light on Foothill Dr. and bake my internal organs, then nah, let’s have some of that canned sauerkraut. Again. What will Leta eat? A bowl of ketchup.
But then Jon had a new stereo installed, one that I did not approve beforehand, which is basically like saying to a kid, look, here’s my checkbook, go to the mall and pick out a toy. And that kid comes home with a pony.
He described the stereo to me in certain terms that did not give me any idea as to what he had installed, and I did not realize the staggering magnitude of it until I had gone to check our mailbox and needed to put a few boxes in the trunk. There I am in the parking lot of an outdoor mall, a stack of boxes about to tumble out of my spindly arms, when I finally jigger open the trunk with the tip of my foot and sitting there is a seven-by-fourteen-foot subwoofer.
Yes, the subwoofer is bigger than the car.
I mumble a few inappropriate adjectives under my breath on the ride home, storm into the house and go, WHAT IS THAT COFFIN DOING IN OUR TRUNK?
And he’s all, baby! BABY!
And I’m all, CALLING ME BABY IS NOT GOING TO SAVE YOU.
So he prepares an hour-long PowerPoint presentation on the advantages of The Subwoofer That Could Eat Moby Dick, and I sit through it and nod and ask him if it helps him sleep better at night knowing that he could churn butter just by setting a jug of milk on the hood of the car while listening to Bob Marley on the stereo. A CAR BUILT FOR HOBBITS.
He assures me that because of this stereo he will not ever be tempted to take the SUV anywhere, so I half-heartedly chalk this up to a victory for the environment. At least, I did until the first morning that I took Leta to school with the new stereo, and because he had satellite radio worked into the new unit and I could now listen to My Stories, I got to listen to a fifteen-minute investigative report on Napoleon’s penis, how it was cut off when he died and then passed around in a decorative box for hundreds of years until it ended up in the historical collection of an eccentric, and then wouldn’t you know, when the journalist finally saw it he described it as looking like a wee piece of beef jerky.
When I got home I walked in the door, plodded over to Jon who was compiling in iTunes a bass-heavy iPod playlist for driving, and told him I forgave him. And when he asked why I said because of Napoleon’s penis.