An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

On being more friendly to the environment

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!


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.

  • Little cars gotta show their balls somehow? So glad I’ve never had testicular envy. My 35mpg pregnant rollerskate does me just FINE.

  • Ha ha! This reminded me of the other day, when I saw a poor woman struggling outside of Target to get her bags into the trunk, yelling “I’ve had about enough of this stereo!”

    I drive a Jeep Patriot. Gets the same gas mileage as my husband’s Honda Accord (26 mpg or so). 🙂

  • Val

    My once “ultra-conservative” husband has completely metamorphized into Ed Begley Jr. with the whole “going green” scene. We purchased a Prius in February and subsequently parked the gas-guzzling 4Runner in the garage. I drive a Toyota Highlander, which will soon be traded in most likely for an 80 mph Vespa (are we in Europe?) He has even planted an organic garden and bought a composter online. I will start to worry when he begins braiding his hair and sporting Birkenstocks….

  • Daniel

    You know what’s a fast way to get around town and is better for the environment than a Civic or a Prius? A bicycle.

  • I currently drive a 96 cavalier that is great. Except it LACKS a/c. I’d get it fixed, but the part that broke? It costs as much as my car is worth. I drive with the windows down.

  • I wholeheartedly approve of your logic.

  • That is oh so wrong.

    Not the environment part – good job on that.

  • Heather,

    First of all, I just have to say that I’ve been reading your blog for about 3 years now, and this is the first time I’m posting. I am in awe that I have even mustered the courage (from somewhere in the depths of my body where courage is stored) to even comment. Really, I just wanted to say that my first car was a 2000 black Honda Civic ex coupe. aka I FEEL YOUR PAIN. Not only did my AC only work when it wanted to (read: winter), but I endured 3 Texas summers in that miniature hearse of a car. You are obviously a much better person than me, because if I had to choose between global warming and enduring that again, I would say “Someone had better bring me a margarita on the rocks and some SPF 80. And possibly an umbrella for when those melted glaciers get here.”

  • For my birthday my husband got me a stereo for my car. Not just any stereo. He special-ordered it, along with a collection of Drum N Bass and Jungle CDs from these DJs in Denmark, New Zealand and Australia (who, naturally, are not on iTunes… that’s too “common”). The system includes some enormous round bass tube thingy and lots and lots of new speakers. I’m not exaggerating – there are LOTS of speakers. The guys at the stereo place were all “DUDE, are you KIDDING me? Holy shit!!! Wait… this is for your wife?”

    My teenage daughter, who hated my car before, now cannot WAIT until she “inherits” it. Um… yea.

    On the plus side, my husband volunteers for every errand, with Courtney shouting “shotgun” as he runs out the door, Honey Do list in one hand and ipod in the other. Life could be worse.

    Oh, and that MGMT song you recommended sounds so freakin FLY in my car.

    Just sayin’.


  • I read your post, and I read Jon’s. I find you two hilarious! I love how you hate it and he loves it and you two wrote contradictory posts about it. hehehe.

  • Oh yeah? Today, *my* husband told me he had a surprise for me, so we rearranged the seats in the van, crammed our three kids in, and set off for Winston-Salem, which is about 2 hours away. I thought I was getting a new couch or a bookcase or something else big and new and swanky. So we get there, and we got…Donkey Kong. Big, old, loud, spider filled Donkey Kong. Did I mention it’s spiderful? And that I was the one who got to clean it out? And the reason he brought me along is so I could help him load it (it, weighing a ton) into the van and then push it up our porch steps when we got home. Awesome. And now it’s sitting in the middle of my living room. YAY. We’re living his Silver Spoons dream, I tell ya.
    I’m with you on the satellite radio, though, it is a winner. If Donkey Kong starts to tell me about Napoleon’s
    penis, I’ll lighten up about it. That would be alright!

  • Love your blog (gee, I know you haven’t heard that one before)…good luck with the small car–AC, stereo, and all. We (my husband, almost 3-year old son, and I) recently traveled from VA to SC in a Kia Rio. We’re both tall and more than a little overweight, so already space is an issue. Add everything that had to make the trip with us, and my poor son was wedged in the middle of the back seat with so much stuff, including stuffed animals that MUST sit with him, around him that he looked like ET in the closet. The AC works, but the fan only works up to “2” on the dial–if you want any more wind, you have to hold in the knob and turn it to “3” or “4,” which I occasionally will do if desperate enough. Gas prices be damned, take the SUV on road trips!

  • As someone who just spent $1500 to fix her air conditioner on her two-door car – I FEEL YOU. Just can’t go without it in an Oklahoma summer.

  • Ha! I, myself, drive a 2000 Honda coupe (a white one). I love this car so much (it is paid off, gets great gas mileage and has caused me very little problems in the 8 years I’ve owned it, yep I love my car)…until I have to get my 2-year-old in and/or out of it. Gah, the pain of hunching over to unbuckle that blasted car seat and pulling him out of the seat itself, watching out for his gangly legs and the seat belt that’s without-fail going to snag somebody or something and cause us to going spilling backwards onto hot, scalding cement. Oh yes, I love that car.

  • I drive a ’91 Honda Civic two door. Once I drove it from Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe on ONE tank of gas. True, it was all highway mileage, but still. 460 miles on 11 gallons. Do the math. Yes, the air conditioning, after refurb, does not work as well as new, I found out a few years ago, but think of it this way. Sweat is the new black.

  • Sarah,

    I am so sorry.


  • Way to go, giving up the SUV, all of which were actually sent here by Satan to make Americans look bad.

    Eventually, you do get used to the smaller car (says the owner of a Saturn whose bumper is literally held on with a wire hanger). What you might not get used to is the lack of trunk space. I’m all for subwoofers in principle, but not if it means that I lose my trunk. I mean, where will I keep all my old coffee cups and out of date newspapers?

    On the bright side, though, you can drive around at night with the windows rolled down, blasting your new Death Star stereo and annoy the shit out of the Mormons.

  • being a grandmother I think you should drive the SUV when you are driving with Leta….s*r*w the environment for those drives

  • JLP717

    We used to have a Honda Civic, which we nicknamed “The Easy Bake Oven,” for the reasons you’ve mentioned.

  • Someday will you please post a picture of you, Jon, Leta and the two dogs piled in that car? Please? And then tie a rocking chair on the top and bribe the Queen of Cosmetics to sit in it.

    I seriously cannot think of a better Christmas photo to save my life.

    And I want you to know that because I am homebound and this illness is kicking my ass I’m not out driving… and if being in an SUV makes your life easier you can totally borrow my carbon footprint. It’s the least I can do.

  • I really think that if I could see the future of my fiance and I’s relationship- you might have summed it up in this post. Thanks for the laugh.

  • This post is, as always, funny as hell, but seriously….stop oil speculation for Leta’s future and to get back into that comfy SUV. From

    “The oil price bubble is unfairly taxing American families and restricting our nation’s economic potential. While everyone is aware that supply and demand constraints contribute to price increases, there’s another force at work that, like gravity, is invisible yet powerful. This force is rampant speculation:

    Every time you buy products such as food or gas, you are impacted by unregulated, secretive and often foreign commodities futures markets. Speculators in these markets are increasingly buying and selling commodities such as oil even though they have no intention of using the product. As unregulated speculators pocket billions of dollars at your expense, the price of commodities has increased out of proportion to marketplace demands.

    Please take a moment and tell Congress to act now. By adopting common-sense solutions, Congress dramatically reduce the price of oil and gas, providing immediate relief for businesses and hard working Americans.”

  • Andrea

    I don’t get it … trying to save money by buying a huge expensive car stereo? Doesn’t this defeat the purpose? My boyfriend’s the same way and I still stay up at night wondering why I put up with it… but I guess it all comes down to the penis. heh

  • Zak

    I’ve never understood the huge subwoofer in a car thing. Cars are just acoustical nightmares and adding more bass isn’t going to help it. I’d much rather have quality audio than quantity audio. I hope to someday win the lottery and buy the Bang & Olufsen equipped Audi. My car has a pair of subs in it – factory installed, standard in a Saab. Small subs. One in the dash and one in the back. Not trunk eliminating subs either. Works great. No need to supplement it.

    Prius. Probably my next car. The fuel savings don’t actually offset the extra cost (yet!) and apparently the environmental impact of building the battery is pretty heavy but it’ll make me think I’m doing something good.

  • Napoleon huh? Watch out for little men… and their petrified penises.

  • i finally have an appropriate name for my car, “a car built for hobbits”. up until i read this post, i’ve called it my go-cart. that term, go cart, is dead to me.

    you may not know this, but you are good with words. i’m guessing you could totally be on the today show with your word talent 🙂

  • Napoleon’s penis was WHAT?

  • This has now replaced my former favorite post, “A story about someone else’s ass”. And this is why I thanked you in the acknowledgments of my dissertation.

  • Oh shit! Feeding the kid ketchup for dinner isn’t okay? I thought it had lots of lycopene and stuff.

    As for the penis… I have forgiven my husband many things because he whipped out his penis. I have never forgiven him because of someone else’s penis. This may be a new one.

  • Tami A.

    I laughed my ass off reading this post. And I know what you mean by driving a smaller vehicle. My 6 foot 3 husband and I ride in this little piece of crap called Geo Metro. I had to sew part of the ceiling and everything. But it kicks ass on gas mileage. I fill it up with less than $30.
    And tell Jon that if you see him in or around the SUV, you’re gonna parade his penis all over Salt Lake City just like Napoleon’s.

  • Because of Napoleon’s penis.

    Please, please, PLEASE make that the August masthead.

  • Six degrees. To Napoleon’s penis. Genius.

  • I looove my Sirius radio SO MUCH that I don’t even care that my (newly paid off, OF COURSE) car is falling apart around me and I can no longer open the driver’s side window. The 30mpg helps also. I’m just glad I’m short.

  • Isn’t if funny how the universe works? We have a sort-of SUV ( Volvo XC70 ) Cross Country. We also have a black civic. We try to drive the civic for all small errands and purposes other than a “family” drive b/c the kid needs a safe place to sit. I too just put a new stereo in it. I did NOT, however, put in a coffin-sized subwoofer but can understand the draw. Thank god for Nap’s penis. Saving the earth or not, you HAVE to have good tunes.

  • Yes, we also have the marvelous hobbit-mobile. Except ours isn’t even from this century, and therefore does not have those new-fangled automatic features. Like door locks. I thought roll-up windows became extinct with the dinosaurs but alas, I was mistaken.

    I’m not sure I’d want to touching old Napolean’s penis, being that he died of syphillis and all. Yum.

  • Jennifer C.

    Know what we did? We got a scooter. Scooters are soooooooo much fun. We used to ride motorcycles until we had kids (4.5 and 2), but it seemed like a good time to start riding again since only one of us has the kids at any given time. Mine gets 97+mpg and will go over 60 miles an hour. Take a(n) MSF course, wear safety gear and assume everyone else on the road is an idiot and you’re good to go.

  • My husband and I drive a Honda Civic, our AC has died, and my sister’s family calls us the Hobbits. Yes, we’re both under 5’5″, but come on. 😉 Thanks for writing about us, lol.

  • A Honda Civic-

    Awwwww! That brings back memories. 42 miles per gallon and 12 years ago.

    Now I’m on a beautiful tropical island- Guam and you’d think my usage would go down. Only it didn’t. And now I have a environmentally destroying SUV.

    I’ll have to beg forgiveness at some point.


    Scroll down to read the lyrics to “Napolean’s Penis” by a singer from Menomonee Falls, WI.

  • RJ

    Ok, just because I am “normal” sized and fit into a Honda Civic does not make me a Hobbit, Missy!

    That is all . . .

  • Yes I have to agree with #74.. but too can’t say anything b/c my husband thinks he is a 15yr old gangster and has amps ad radio junk in his old grandma car….no really his grandmother gave him her park Ave it is very classy with the tinted windows and the junk in the trunk..but at least there is room for grocieres in it!

    I am ashamed to say that when I drive into the city closest to my house in my YukonXL and my kids are at school I feel a little guilty being in that “bus” all by myself but I would rather pay $15 in gas to go to the movies then be seen in his car!

  • I am ROLLING over here, ROLLING! That tickled my funny bone because I know of the type of subwoofer of which you speak. My ex was big into car stereo equipment and he liked a car, a car that goes BOOM! And boy did it boom.

    Unfortunately, it was before the days of satellite radio so I didn’t get to enjoy stories about Napoleon’s penis.

    Dang it.

  • we LOVVVVVVVVVVVVVE our Honda Civic….but ours has a backseat. Useful for storing flyers, water bottles and bags…also a good place to shovel the glass from the window when it’s been broken for the umpteenth million time…cause thieves…they looovvvvvvve our little Honda Civic as much as we do. We went for less of a stereo system and more of a “we give up, music ain’t worth it” system the LAST time our car was busted open…….I think the wires oozing out of the gaping hole in our dashboard looks kind of artistic really.
    We get excellent mileage though, and we also make fun of people in SUV’s as we zip in and out of parking spaces…
    we keep our SUV makin’ fun of to the Karma ass-kickin’ bare minimum though….

  • Sue

    The 2 door civic is unfortunately, the larger of the two cars in my life. In my boyfriend’s redneck, gas-guzzling Camaro it feels like I might as well be at the gyno because I have to have the seat so far forward to accommodate the 3 foot tall child in the back while I fold my 6 feet of legs into the front. I feel your pain. Good luck and congrats on being green!

  • Nhiro

    I drive a 2000 Honda Accord and I was convinced by my brother to shell out $200+ for a brand new Sony stereo a few years ago. The sound of the bass pumping my brain momentarily drowns out thoughts of how much of my (high school) graduation money I spent on that thing.

    On a side note, a pipe in front of my mom’s house broke and flooded the entire street. City guys came by and totally wrecked the lawn and driveway and even broke her custom built sprinkler system. Just wanted you to know you weren’t alone in suffering a sewage nightmare.

  • Laura S.

    An penis from a dead man does, in fact, look like jerky. That is exactly how I explained it to people after I saw one.

    When I had to go through my anatomy class, we had to identify stuff on cadavers. That was the first thing I looked for, for the sake of science of course. 😉 I also learned after the first day that I needed to clip an empty pack of Juicy Fruit gum to my clip board so the cadaver smell didn’t make me gag.

    The professor was too comfortable working with cadavers, especially when working with a beginner anatomy class. She told us that they usually cut off the breasts because they were just fat, and fat doesn’t hold up well for our purposes. She said before we went into the class that a penis is usually the only way a beginner can tell if it was a man or woman. “We do have one breast floating around in the room. Sometimes we find it under a cadaver or in a bag with a male cadaver.” The breast was cut off so there was at least one for the education process to be fulfilled. It looked like a really flat, jagged-edged gingersnap cookie that had a big hershey’s kiss melted in the middle.

    So when people die, guys look like beef jerky and girls look like gingersnaps. Girls are filled with sugar and spice and everything nice…forever.

  • Genevieve

    This post is so funny that tears are running down my face because I’m smothering giggles trying not to wake my roommate. Thanks for the laugh. I am 5’2″ and I love my Civic!

  • Anonymous

    You are hysterical! If you replace “subwoofer” with bike you pretty much sum up my life.

  • Sarafina

    I saw a dead man’s penis once. My roommate was a grad student studying occupational therapy and she dragged me to her class Halloween party at the hospital where they had their classes. Afterwards, around two in the morning, she took me down to the gross anatomy lab in the basement of the silent, deserted hospital and showed me dozens of cadavers with their hearts cut out. That’s basically the best Halloween story I have.

    And yes, dead penis looks like beef jerky. Probably not as tasty though.

  • Napoleon had a penis? So then what was all that conquering about?

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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