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.

  • I cannot begin to describe the joy I felt when I came home from work to discover that you had put up a new entry.

    And then I laughed while I smoked my last cigarette of the day, with an ice cold beer in my hand, and I hurt my throat. And then I tried to drink beer to stop the hurting, only to continue reading, and have beer come out my nose.

    Hot damn, do I ever love your website.

  • Dave K


    Does it get any better than this?

  • PaulE

    I feel your pain. I drive a 98 Civic HX and being 6’5″ makes it a real small car. I would replace it, no let me rephrase that, I want to replace it but when a 10 year old car gets 35mpg on average it is hard to give it up.

  • Ok, I’d be pissed too about the stereo thang! However, I can’t say I feel your pain about the car thing cause I’m short and drive a Honda Accord and I love it. But, your post made me laugh really hard!!! You just have the most awesome way of describing things. And I love it that you opened your comments!!! I’ve enjoyed seeing you on the news lately.

  • Kathy

    I agree the first priority in any car is a working air conditioner. I live in Lake Havasu City, Arizona and during the month of June temps reached upwards of 115 to 120 most everyday. That does not even begin to describe how hot the inside of your car is after sitting in the sun all day while at work. When I head home at 5:00 the inside temp of the car is 130 to 150 and 2nd degree burns are likely when touching the steering wheel or any metal part within the car. Oh, I drive a VW bug but fortunately I am 5 foot 3 inches. Being vertically challenged is a blessing in this instance.

    As for the sound system in your little car, hope you checked with insurance on replacement value. My son, who lives in San Antonio, Texas has had his sound system, radio w/DVD player with bluetooth capability, multiple speakers throughout his Tahoo and an unbelievable subwoofer under glass in the rear cargo area stolen twice in the last year and a half. His windows are maximum tinted so none of the equipment can be seen from outside and the face of the radio/DVD player folds into the dashboard when turned off. Go figure….

    But kudos to you for parking the SUV and folding into a Honda. Is there room for Leta and her carseat? And if the dogs go along for the ride wow! what a trip and all that sound with bass.

    Enjoy the ride and the tunes…..oh, we may cool off to 103 this weekend, SWEET!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mary

    Was I asleep in history class or what ? I swear I never knew about Napoleon’s beef jerky peepee. I will be burning up the web tonight over that one.

    And hey, re the sub woofer—my hubby gave away my PAID FOR Suburban last year so he could indulge himself with a fancy F350 truck. I can’t get in it without a step ladder and when I do manage to make it up there, I can’t hear myself think due to his loud stereo with subwoofers !
    So, I only get to drive my son’s single cab ’92 Chevy. Well, wouldn’t you know , GIGANTIC speaker/sub woofer crap things behind the freakin’ seat ! Now I can barely squeeze in to drive. I kid you not, I have to suck it in to drive. And no, I do not even turn the blasted stereo on—ever. It vibrates the other drivers windows beside me at the red lights.

  • abra

    this has absolutely NOTHING to do w/ today’s entry, but since comments were closed to yesterday’s, i just want to say thank you!!

    i’d had a wonderful (read sarcasm) day and was stressed, and i’ve been reading your site for years (this is my first comment, yay!!) and i read your newsletter, and your line about “well there i was, and then there i wasn’t” or however you worded it exactly, made me laugh, OUTLOUD, hysterically, in my quiet house, in the middle of the night.

    so yeah, thanks for a much needed laugh. hope you’re back/body is feeling better tho!

  • Small cars… hehehe… I have a MINI on order.. talk about small… though surprisingly.. you’d probaby fit better then you might think in it. But Coco & Chuck would never make it…

  • I was just on a cruise–cruises, yuck, I know!–and a (big, old fat) guy was wearing a shirt that said, “I put ketchup on my ketchup.” I’m sure that’s appropriate for Leta, don’t you think? And myself, as well. I eat things–burgers, hot dogs, etc.–simply because they’re vehicles for the condiments.

  • Alison

    Heather, I love you. It’s that simple.

  • SwissBarb

    Sweating is good for you! Ha…!
    My A/C died on me a couple of weeks ago and when they told me how much it would cost to replace it (the work cost more than the parts!) I told them thankyouverymuchIthinkIwilljustsweatthen!

    But, we’re having a shitty summer so far so I’m not suffering too much.

    And small cars rule… I drive a Smart 😉

    Hope you’re doing ok now after your trampoline adventures.

  • I heart my Honda Civic Hybrid. I refuse to get a big car, even though my 3 kids can barely cram in the back these days, and my husband is starting to get pretty annoyed by it. But it’s good for the environment right?

  • ah, a wee bit of beef jerky….sigh.

    if i had a nickel for every time i heard that…

  • Chris

    I love your new series of Chuck’s Daily Photo’s! He’s so freaking cute. He makes me smile, you make me laugh and beautiful Leta makes me melt. That girl is something else.

  • J. Bo

    From the late ’90s until 2004 I had a two-door ’84 Honda Civic hatchback, and it took me from California to Chicago (and on several emotional family journeys around the Midwest as well). On its worst days in city traffic it got just shy of 30 miles to the gallon; on its best days on the highway it cleared 40.

    Its interior space defied the pansy-assed know-it-alls at the IKEA loading dock who insisted that my shelving wouldn’t fit (it DID fit, and I made them admit it when I closed the hatch). It survived an unjust towing (all my dashboard toys “disappeared” in the process), rogue gravel that cracked the windshield, three broken-window burglaries (the culprits made off with a six-pack of Diet Pepsi, a twelver of TP, and a set of raggedy jumper cables, respectively).

    And then it was gone.

    I miss it so much I can’t tell you. Right now I’m stuck with my mom’s hand-me-down ’99 Taurus. The gas mileage is crap, and I feel like I’m in Witness Protection and my cover is Soccer Mom #21,408.

    Please, please, PLEASE… if you ever decide to sell yours (with or without stereo/AC), call me first, I BEG you…

  • I’ve been reading your blog for quite awhile now. Napoleon’s penis is interesting though I fail to understand why was it chopped in the first place.

  • We, too, are eschewing the ginormous Ford Expedition for our two-door 2000 Honda Civic these days. And it is a tight fit, my friend. When all three of us are in there, we all touch and it drives me crazy. I miss the days of riding around in the earth killer, letting Hank watch his DVDs with the air conditioner blasting and having my seat air conditioner on, as well. Now we actually THINK TWICE before we decide to drive somewhere. And if it’s more than 10 miles, then we go in the Civvy. I ignore the numb ass and go for the gas sipper.


    This so made me think of an ad for the darth-vader-powerful stereo!

    You pull up in the teeny tiny car at the lights next to a big bad SUV. In it are these bad-ass guys, tattoos n all. They look over and snicker. Then Leta reaches forward and switches on the stereo. OOOMPH! Their windows explode.
    The end.

  • Id

    I have been a reader of your site and this is my first time to comment. I had to comment this time, because when I was reading the bit about Napoleon’s penis, Justin Timberlake’s “Dick in a Box” started playing in my head. I know, I know..

    Keep up the hilarious posts!

  • Oh now you must be “Rockin the Suburbs”…with Napolean’s penis.

  • Oh my! I’ve never seen a subwoofer in a trunk. I guess I haven’t lived. I did have an equilizer once in my Saab 900 in the 80s-90s before it committed suicide. Now I regretfully own 2 SUVs. An Escape (pre-hybrid model) that gets OK gas mileage and just had it’s 70K maintenance and an A/C charge-up… because like the person in GA, in Texas, especially this year, summer seemed to start in April! And June had 100 degree days! A/C is not optional or no one would ever live here. Our other ride is 100K+ 10 yr old Explorer. It’s a short distance from the house vehicle for my husband who is a semi-retired journalist. His blog is I think some of the dooce readers would love his rants about Texas and life in general.

  • I am never eating beef jerky again.

  • Poor Napoleon. If only he’d had email to end his suffering of small penis size.

  • CC

    Dooce, your marital arguements kick ass.

  • A few summers ago on a family trip to Taiwan, my dad borrowed his best friend’s beat-up thousand-year-old gold Mercedes with an air conditioner that only worked at night. It’s a tropical climate, so the humidity was so bad that everything was perspiring, including the car windows. When we would get out of the car, there would be puddles on our seats. Whenever we complained about this, our parents would jokingly say, “Hey, but you’re still in a Mercedes!” AND it didn’t have a working radio. Cars with no air conditioning suck.

  • leonie

    thank you thank you thank you for “Loni”.
    nothing better than spitting coffee over my laptop first thing in the morning.

  • I’m getting ready to be in no air conditioning…have to take my car to get repaired so I’m driving my husband’s old car…I should probably throw a towel over the seat to prevent puddles of sweat…blah

  • HA! Awesome!! 😀 I can’t wait to get an older better-gas-mileage-getting car and outfit it with a primo system into which I can directly jack my iPod somehow.

    I don’t see the huge-ass subwoofer in the trunk, though. I just don’t need that much bass. (Although the thought of Bob Marley with a good size 10 is … well, tempting.)

  • Well, there you have it, the difference between guys and girls. Cars stereos vs. air conditioning. Also, I like the fact that he installed a sub…go big or go home, I say.

  • Candice

    It’s official, you’re married to a 17 year old boy. They never really grow up do they?

  • Love your story! I’m anxious to hear more about the manuscript you’ve recently finished. I’m a fan living in Alpine – you’re blog’s helped me adapt to life in Utah with compassion and humor. Thanks much!


  • Best environmental report I’ve ever read. And I read a quite a few!

  • Shawna

    My Honda died last year (sad times)…It was a 94 and got GREAT gas mileage. I’m missing it now that gas has really hit sky high and I’m driving a small SUV (Saturn VUE). Ay yi yi!

  • I love how your mind connects a sub-woofer, Bob Marley, the environment and Napoleon’s penis all in one post. And it makes sense.


  • darcie

    Oh, my…but how I needed this story on this exact morning. Thank you. Thank you for this story on this morning. I’m feeling better prepared for the next seven hours of ‘work.’

  • That story was a great way to start the morning! More coffee? No way! Just another helping of Napoleon’s Penis, thankyou.

  • I thank you for that story on about 80 different levels. That just made up for my horrific commute. My day will now be fabulous!

  • Being barely above the five foot marker, I’ve never considered how inconvenient it is for tall people to get in a little car. I, on the other hand, feel like a wee tiny person when I have to get in an SUV and then I sit there and can’t imagine how I would ever drive it.

    Off to google Napoleon’s penis…

  • i like your style. we have the same ideas about downgrading from an oversized SUV.

  • yes! boys.. but, there is something sexy about him wanting more bass..

  • Oh, we’re trying to do the same thing– driving the small vehicle that you need to fold yourself up into instead of the huge roomy one. It’s not so grate, akshully. 🙂 Good luck with it!

  • Why not trade ’em both in for a Honda CR-V? It’s technically considered a car and is an “ultra-low emissions vehicle” but it’s higher so easier on the back. Lots of legroom too!

  • Kathy

    Ya know, you could have just made a big pot of Sauerkraut Soup.. with Ketchup!!!

    Just Sayin!!

  • I feel ya, sister! I drive an old Honday civic with NO airconditioning. It doesn’t seem worth it to pay to fix it, since i live in Seattle and it often isn’t too warm. Wish someone would install a great stereo in my car though, mine sucks and makes a beat sound like a kid making strawberries.

  • Jen

    It sounds like we are driving the same car! Except that yours has a stereo that works. Oh and your a/c works. I should also say that if we’re ever forced to tell them apart in a parking lot, mine also has few dents from a couple, er, minor fender benders that have never been fixed. Mine also overheats if it hears the word idle.

    About 6 months ago my civic actually got stolen. Why they would want to steal the little mom-mobile that barely could is still a mystery. They only got it around the block and then ditched it. I’d like to think it’s b/c it ran out of gas. But on further introspection, I realized it could have been either a) the petrified waffles my kids left in the back seat rattled around too much that they couldn’t make a quiet get-away or b) they aspired to do better. Is it sad that even thieves felt they could do better than my car?

  • The best part will be in about a year when he says “It’s not even that good of a speaker” Because that’s what my husband is saying now when we’re trying to sell his no air conditioned car!!!!

  • Laura

    You are hilarious! But now really… do you save money by using this car if you go out and spend money on a new stereo? Huh Jon?

  • Kelly B

    When I was civic shopping I found out that the sedan and the coupe have the same body, just the sedan has 4 door and is easier to get in and out of.

    I love my civic, but then I’m only 5ft9. I just wish the seats were a little more comfy.

  • Anonymous

    My idea of eco friendly? Driving my hubby’s company truck, instead of my massive SUV……that way I save money on gas and HIS company pays.
    Only kiddin’……except not really……or maybe I am.

    As far as the coffin in the trunk? I woulda grounded him. Then asked to see his penis, as I love me some satelite radio!

  • Heather took her funny pills today!
    First, I was cry laughing at Loni since I live in Wisconsin and think I have seen her on Yahoo personals. Right next to my profile, of course.

    and as for the car… sucking air through straws out the window. Great!

    Thanks for the laugh this morning… makes me forgive you for the coffee coming out my nose.

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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