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 hereby vow to use “because of Napoleon’s penis” as my answer for any question. There is absolutely no comeback to that. And at work, it may be enough for them to suggest a few days off to rest- which I could definitely use.

  • When I was growing up I loved the thud, thud,thud of the bass pumping and me rockin’ to da beat.

    I’m 32 now and I like to just hear my music, not necessarily feel it. However, my neighbor, Alberto, is close to 40 and he insists on blaring his sub-woofer so loudly that it shakes the windows in my house.

    I had to tell Alberto to please turn it down before I stuff his body into that bass box, weight it down and then dump it into a lake.

    So I hope your neighbors aren’t as sensitive or as close by as I am to Alberto or else they might sit in their living room and dream of ways to “off” you.

    On an up note – if Alberto said he was bassing for the environment, that might save him.

  • Beef jerky penis?
    Ewww. Was it on NPR? 🙂

  • Dooce I love you.
    I walk in my office, log on, and go to MY FAVORITES.
    I read Dooce.
    I laugh.
    I giggle.
    I cannot help myself.

    I can now commence with my work day, knowing that in the middle of a mind numbing meeting I can think to myself “Napoleons Penis and Wee bit of Jerky” all in the same thought and I will internally laugh my ass off.

    God bless you, woman.

  • Wow, I have been jonesing for a grand Tour de Europe. Now that I know they have penises in museums, I might just have to go this weekend!

    My beater 1999 Saturn is on its last legs and I can’t run the AC unless I keep a steady, grueling pace of 45. On San Diego freeways. I get the finger a lot. I spend my free moments secretly coveting my sister’s beautiful new Prius but just can’t scrape together the monthly payment on top of our brand new mortgage. *sigh*

    You think you could talk Toyota into a Wii-inspired reader giveaway?!? :p

  • i am with jon. a man feels a lot more like a man, when driving a honda civic, if the bass is pumping.

  • Brianna

    THANK YOU for making changes due to high gas prices and not just sitting around complaining about them but refusing to budge one iota.

    I live in South Florida, and nothing gets me more riled than standing next to an overly proccessed housewife in $600 sunglasses complaining about $4/gal gas, while filling up her giant Land Rover and filling her friend in on how she needs to drive to Miami (40 miles) for her nail appointment and take Girl to soccer in West Palm (50 miles the opposite way)and Boy to Karate in Jupiter (20 miles beyond that) and then to work in Weston (30 miles west)…are there no nail salons, soccer fields, or Karate lessons in the metro area? Because I’ve seen them…

    I mean, spend what you want, but calling on the government to make it easier to support your non-essential choices while complaining about the price of those choices makes me want to shake someone. =(

    BTW, I’m cruising around Fort Lauderdale in an almost 10 year old car with no A/C. But it’s paid off! =)

  • What I love about your posts is there’s usually an unexpectedly twist at the end. Like this one. A post all about stereo systems and then WHAM! a lesson is historical penises.

  • The hubby now bikes to work. When we fill up our small-ish SUV it’s like we’ve got a Hummer!

  • This might be the first time responding to an open entry, but not the first time reading them. Chuck alone always has me coming back for more (and I have to say that Loni is one hot babe!).

    I made the mistake of drinking my orange juice while reading this particular entry, and you will be happy to know that I managed to send it flying out of my nose and all over my desk. My keyboard is now sticky, but at least I can assure you it was WORTH IT.

    This post really made me wish I had satellite radio just so I can listen to stories about Napoleon’s penis!

  • Sonya

    It makes sense (not in saving cents, that is) that each of you had to make the efficient car ‘livable’ in your own way.

    However, save your bucks starting now since you guys will need hearing aids with all that loud boomchakalaka.

    Love your blog.

  • Andrew McDonnell

    If you need to get another small car that you’ll fit in comfortably, consider a Honda Fit. You’ll want the Fit Sport to appease Jon, but it’s a great car that I (6’4″) can fit into the back seat of with the front seat slid all the way back.

  • Mark

    Just. Too. Damn. Funny.

    I think Jon and I would get along swimmingly… 🙂

  • I’m glad hubs and I have relatively gas efficient cars – the price of gas is ridiculous! My sister in law recently drove 8 hours with no AC (just the windows rolled down) to save on gas mileage.

    Screw that!
    (sorry environment)

    🙂 Becky

  • Julia

    I know you’re not looking for a new car, but I seriously recommend the Honda Fit for anyone who is – small car with good gas mileage and tons of people and cargo space inside (seriously – my long-legged husband loves driving it – he actually has extra headroom and can drive without his knee bent at a funny angle so it doesn’t bump into the steering wheel)

  • Heather – Only you could connect Napolean’s penis with the environment and make it funny.

  • Julia

    Lol, apparently Andrew McD and I had the same thought 🙂

  • Denise

    No working A/C in my car either. My commute home from work, when it’s about 400 degrees outside are pure hell, since my car is all black. The good news is that while I’m driving home, I’m also warming up leftovers for dinner (they are on the seat next to me). I pull in the driveway and announce “dinner’s ready”! So I’m saving gas, electricity AND time. Such a deal…

  • Sara

    I love this post!

  • Do you want to know what I did two days ago to become more friendly to our enviroment?

    I bought a bike.

    I rode my bike from 4500 S. to the U! My ass hurts.

    But you should buy a bike. NO GAS. AWESOME.

  • c3

    We’ve done about the same, car wise. Minus the kid, but also minus the subwoofer.

    On the oil and gas front… The irony of one of the text ads (and I’m not placing this at Heather’s feet, it’s not like the woman goes and hand picks ads) is just painful. “”Wife in the Fast Lane”
    Mix 1 Pt. CEO Oil Wife, 1 Pt. Mommy, with splash of Socialite”

    Seriously…click on that and do a command+F find for “oil”. I particularly, um, like the post about big daddy celebrating $120/barrel oil. *sigh*


    I guess the country has always been this polarized. It’s just taken me a bunch of years to see it. About…8 years.

  • We finally had to take a bath on a big Dodge 1500 truck and replaced it with a Corolla – my husband doesn’t like to drive it as much … but it feels a little better at the gas pump.

  • Anonymom

    We have three kids and a Prius and it works, somehow. We do also have a minivan, but we only take it if we have an extra kid with us.
    Good luck with squeezing into your hobbit car!

  • When I was 17 years old my boyfriend drove a Firebird with one of those woofers, and once I sat in the back seat of the vehicle next to the speaker, the vibrations of which blew my hair around. My parents loved how the neighbourhood could hear him coming up the street.

    Also, the comment spam stopper thingy words read “expert Liver”. Is this thing personalized?

  • Despite it being built for Hobbits, I would love something fuel efficient like a Civic. We have one car… a truck. 16 miles to the gallon and if it wasn’t so freakishly hot here in Florida, I would ride a bike. I don’t because sweating annoys me. So I take my gas guzzler, crank up the a/c and feel bad about killing the environment.

  • Boys and their toys . . . at least he owes you one now, right?

  • Anonymous

    We recently bought a rockin’ 1997 black civic too. Gotta love 35 miles to the gallon! I actually saw you and Jon outside of a particular Italian ice vendor last week when it was 101 degrees outside trying to coax Leta into the back seat of the Civic. You looked pissed. Believe me, I look pissed too as I am convincing my three kids to crawl in the back seat. I make them call me Mommy Dearest when we drive the Civic.

  • Maiken H.

    My iPod and soon to be fixed AC get me through the long drive every day. I also heard the Napoleon story. I was never more rivited by the tales of a detached penis.

  • Michael

    Napoleon’s penis? Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?

    And just getting the old trouble & strife to agree to a 19-inch desktop monitor to replace the old, dead, tiny monitor was akin to a major Allied victory or the Spartan’ triumph at Thermopylae–too exhausting to really enjoy afterward.

  • Mike Norton

    Damn you Heather B. Armstrong. Damn you to hell. Now I’m at work and feel an OVERWHELMING desire to Google “Napoleon’s penis” and see if you’re just yankin’ my chain.

    I swear to God if I get fired for looking up porn on the internet I’m holding YOU personally responsible.

  • M@

    You know, if you listen to Nine Inch Nails on that puppy, about 1;35 into “The Mark Has Been Made” the base vibrations can actually phase you into another dimension.

  • Meredith

    I so feel the pain! Sounds just like something my own husband would do – if he was forced in to it! Dare I explain… Last December, my dear husband got ‘his dream job’… sales representative with a pharmaceutical company. (he has such wonderful aspirations in life!) With that came all of the wonderful ‘perks’ that most reps get… I for one was looking forward to having his gas paid for… even better – they were providing him with a car! All I could see what the for sale sign that would soon be placed in the window of his ever huge gas guzzling Nissan Titan! It is now July… my driveway looks like a used car lot. My small SUV (which I do get 22 mpg – and hardly go places – so I can live with that for now) – his work vehicle – which his company pays for 100% and we pay a small fee to drive it for personal miles… and THE TRUCK! Which we still make payments on every month and he drives mostly on weekends and when he gets home from work. Did I mention that we pay a small fee every month to allow us to drive the company car for personal matters???????? He even when through the trouble of having the windows tinted in the work vehicle (we paid for that) and a satellite radio installed as well (we paid for that too!) He is slowly running out of excuses to keep the truck – but I am sure by that time – the truck will be paid for and no one will dare look at a truck for purchase!!!!

  • Thank you for acknowledging to the whole world the miserable plight that is trying to get anything done on that monstrosity that is Foothill. The light timing is bad in this city! I apparently have no concept of what it’s like to have more than one person in my 2000 Civic but I’m glad you’re giving it a shot.

  • Scott Elfstrom

    Since the birth of our son (now four-and-a-half, about the same age as Leta), we have been driving only our 2000 VW Beetle. In fact, we sold my beloved Nissan Xterra right after he was born, and we’ve been living with one car—in Dallas, Texas, one of the most car-centric places on earth—ever since then. Now, with two kids in car seats, it’s certainly not easy. But we manage, and we have saved a lot of money and had a little peace of mind over environmental concerns.

  • Napoleon’s penis?

    Now when ever Napoleon’s Penis is googled it will bring up
    That’s as good as being mentioned in a history book. How awesome is it that?

  • I once had a stereo which was not only on the border of being larger then my car, but it was also hands down “worth more” then the car was.

    Its a guy thing you wouldn’t understand.

  • I am way jealous of a trunk full of subwoofer. I heart bass.

  • Whoa. I wonder if I can fit a subwoofer like that on my bicycle?

  • Well, you should try squeezing an Alsatian/Husky/Labrador/Fox mix (I do not guarantee I got that mix right) into the back of a 1971 MG BGT… a car that most certainly has no air conditioning. Or space. If only it had a decent sound system…

    But it looks good. In a British sort of way…


  • Carroll

    I can’t believe people ever (ever!) imply that you must make this stuff up. That conversation at the end between you and Jon? Totally happened. Did he so much as blink an eye at your explanation? Not even a flicker.

  • So wait, Leta heard about Napoleon’s penis too? If she doesn’t even like Coco LOOKING at her, I cannot begin to imagine how she reacted to that radio segment…

  • Kate

    Wait wait wait.

    Moving to the smaller car to save on gas to then buy an expensive stereo system which takes up the whole trunk and therefore will end up weighing down the car and using moooore gas… this doesn’t add up. Shoulda stuck with the SUV. Man logic!

    I still think you guys are the greatest though! And George!

  • So… does the generator you’ll need to power the stereo system run on gas, too? Maybe bio-diesel? And then of course, the extra fifty pounds you are hauling.

    And you’re BACK to 19 mpg.

    HA! This is a great story!

  • Britta

    I read this to my dweeby husband and he says that he would really like to see that Power Point presentation. Any hopes of this happening?

  • I always forgive people due to Napoleon’s penis. It’s just a habit I have.

  • You prove the point I’ve been trying to make to everyone around me. Satellite radio will make your life better.

    Case closed.

  • My mom has been riding her bike into town more often to save on gas, and I’ve been trying to drive a lot less…now you guys are downsizing on the car (and upgrading on the subwoofer, good choice Jon)…it gives me hope that with all these seemingly little changes, we’re actually making a big difference. I hope others join in and realize that these small hassles and inconveniences are really going to change the world. One subwoofer at a time 😉

  • Kim

    I’m picturing Jon driving the Honda like he’s driving a lowrider. Y’know, like bobbing his head, with one arm on the window. This totally cracked me up. Keep it real, peeps!

  • If only we could power automobiles with wee bits of beef jerky – ha!

    I made a powerpoint presentation to my parents when I had to tell them I would be cohabitating years ago. It was 10 slides describing the top 10 things that could be worse than the news I had to tell them.

  • Sara

    not to sound too ignorant, but is that true about Napoleon’s penis? I might have to google it.

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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