Heater, Mother of Lance

Just another beautiful day

So last week we took a quick trip to LA to get some business done, and I know that sounds vague, come on, what is up? It’s not something I can talk about just yet, although we did tell Leta that we were going to see the leprechauns. And we were going to ask them to stop tapping on her window, but we couldn’t promise anything. In the meantime KEEP YOUR BLINDS CLOSED.

Was that mean? I hope so.

We initially thought we were going to be in meetings all day on Friday, but everything got wrapped up so early we decided to rent a car, drive around and enjoy the incredible weather. And was it ever incredible. PEOPLE OF LA: You have no idea! I know I didn’t when I lived there, but after getting the shit beat out of me by seven consecutive Utah winters, I wanted to cry as we lazily sat outside on the balcony of our hotel room and sipped cocktails. IN MARCH. WITHOUT HAVING TO SHOVEL SNOW TO GET THE DOOR OPEN.

Now, Jon gets a little woozy in the head when it comes to renting cars. He’s seen every episode of “Top Gear” and has fantasies about being a Formula 1 racer. And I won’t lie. I LOVE a fast driver. If on our first date he had driven like a grandma I would have said, dude, you’re cute and all, but there is no way I’m going to be able to get it up.

My dad just read that, got up out of his chair and threw up in the trash can underneath his desk. Sometimes the truth is ugly.

So we (meaning HE) got a wild hair and rented a BMW 3 series. Because he’d seen it on “Top Gear” and wanted the unique privilege of driving one at least once in his life. And, uh, let’s just say it took several miles for him to get the hang of it, and the whole time he’s going BRACE YOUR SKULL ON THE HEADREST. And I’m all, for the price we’re paying for this rental I shouldn’t have to be aware of the condition of my skull, thank you very much.

But every time he put his foot on the gas that car would jump twenty feet in the air, and my head at one point popped off my neck. It was ridiculous! And thirty minutes later when we found a parking space on Melrose, my body a tense wreck of nerves, limbs scattered from the dashboard to the back seat, I grabbed the keys and said, dude, we are taking this back right now and renting bikes.

And that’s when he challenged me to take the wheel. Oh no he didn’t.

You’re going to challenge me? Did you know that this is the quickest and easiest way to torture a Type A personality? BECAUSE WHAT IF I’M NOT GOOD AT IT. The world will end and we will all die homeless and naked. I know because it has happened before.

So there I am in the driver’s seat of a BMW 3 Series. You guys, I have absolutely no business being anywhere near a BMW. I am from the country. We ride horses and plows.

And as I inspect the gear shift I see that the D for DRIVE has an M and an S option next to it. Naturally, I assume that the S stands for SPORT. And the M? I dunno. Maybe, MOST PEOPLE USE THIS ONE. Totally feasible.

So I pull out onto Crescent Heights, and as usual there is a ton of traffic. So I certainly don’t want the SPORT option. That’s for race tracks. So I choose MOST PEOPLE USE THIS ONE, and suddenly the car is all RRRRR! RRRRR! Like it’s choking on Polly Pocket.

And Jon starts screaming SHIFT! SHIFT! And I’m all, SHIFT? THERE IS NO CLUTCH. What do you mean SHIFT!

And he starts shaking his head and yelling, “YOU’RE IN MANUAL! MANUAL! Don’t you pay attention during ‘Top Gear’?”

Of course I pay attention during “Top Gear.” The cinematography is stunning.

Needless to say, I got about four tenths of a mile before I pulled over, jumped out, and kicked the front tire. Do us all a favor: if you are at all tempted to buy a sports car, go hug a teacher and thank her for all the work she does so that she can get paid as much money as you’re going to pay to throw your neck out.

The end.

Also, here are all the photos I took with my iPhone and then processed with TiltShift Generator which is by far my favorite iPhone photography application, no they did not pay me to say that, stop right there and enjoy the show:

  • TheHans

    2010/03/16 at 3:54 pm

    Poor Jon. He’s, sadly, too old to be an F1 driver. Unless you’re married to Michael Schumacher (41) and never told us. Most drivers are somewhere between 19-30.
    EDIT: You have to realize that I am a massive F1 fan. I am so sorry I had to pop in with that little remark. For what it’s worth, I’m too old, too. Leta…now, if Jon wants a little racer in the family, she’s about old enough for karts. (grin)

  • Daddy Scratches

    2010/03/16 at 12:38 pm

    My father-in-law has a Mercedes with that crazy manual-without-a-clutch thing. I haven’t dared to try it in that mode. I drive a stick … with, like, a clutch and stuff. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do if the clutch wasn’t there.

    Guess maybe I should start watching “Top Gear.”

  • kayakgrrl

    2010/03/16 at 12:48 pm

    A BMW once tried to bite me. Not nice. (I love the photos…)

  • eram

    2010/03/16 at 12:58 pm

    Did you have to use your BUTT PILLOW while driving this BMW? 🙂

    My husband is obsessed w/ Top Gear too.

  • PunkinP

    2010/03/16 at 1:04 pm

    I loooooove Top Gear!! I laugh my ass off watching that show. Glad you guys had(mostly) fun in L.A. I probably saw you zoom by at some point.

  • Gwenevere

    2010/03/16 at 1:06 pm

    I’ll laugh to that! and bring me another!

    Oh and all those pictures prove is that in order to have sweet pictures, you must first have a SWEET photographer, the camera doesn’t even matter. No way did you do all that in post. No way!

  • aphoenix

    2010/03/16 at 1:07 pm

    You were in Century City! If you’re there again for business, I work at the only LA museum dedicated to photography, the Annenberg Space for Photography, which is 1) free and 2) located in that grassy pavilion right between CAA and the two Century Park Towers.

    Sorry for the plug, but it is an amazing place, and seriously, how much of a plug can it be if it’s FREE? Actually, anyone who sees this and comes, ask for Abby — I’d love to meet other local Dooce-readers!

  • bopperbop

    2010/03/16 at 1:19 pm

    You should come visit us in Germany where they have MANY BMWs and NO speed limits on many parts of the Autobahn (Highway)! When I moved here I learned the whole shifty-manual-clutchy thing but quickly abandoned it for an automatic car!

  • Wombat Central

    2010/03/16 at 1:19 pm

    Love the pics–especially the close-up flowers right after the palm trees.

    I have that manual shift option in my Highlander. I’ve never used it. Of course, they’re pretty good at accelerating all by themselves…

  • tallnoe

    2010/03/16 at 1:21 pm

    I have always wanted to use that M button, on cars I’ve driven, but I’m confused about it. So, I just drive automatic instead. I’ve driven stick before, and even had a stick in LA. before I was rear-ended.
    It was a biznatch to drive on the freeways in SoCal in a stick shift!!

    So now I’m boring and have an automatic.

    Glad you got to enjoy good weather! It’s even better today!! Lovely pictures too!

  • raineboyd

    2010/03/16 at 1:22 pm

    Top Gear is, by far, the most watched show in our house. Kudos. No worries, all I pay attention to is the witty commentary and cinematography.

    The pictures turned out awesome…thumbs up, iPhone.

  • spike

    2010/03/16 at 1:25 pm

    Top Gear rocks. The BBC version though. BBC Canada edits it down to fit into a shorter window. Some segments that are part of the opening aren’t actually in the episode. Infuriating.

    Does Jon envision himself as The Stig?


  • SMK1126

    2010/03/16 at 1:28 pm

    LOVE the pictures Heather! Except, where is the GEORGE CLOONEY(!) of butt-pillows?

    May I suggest Chuck balancing it on that head of his?

  • MJBUtah

    2010/03/16 at 1:29 pm

    Top Gear is a big deal in my house too. I’m the Andretti in our family. I can make it from Ogden to Wendover almost an hour faster than my husband when he drives.

  • austinmomof7

    2010/03/16 at 1:33 pm

    In 13 years, I have never driven a car without a carseat or two strapped in, stale french fries and old m&m’s littering the floor, and the pungent aroma of boy comingling with soured milk. I am sad. And pathetic.

  • NoNeinNyet

    2010/03/16 at 1:52 pm

    Top Gear is fantastic. I know almost nothing about cars but I’m a ridiculous anglophile so it makes me very happy. Top Gear has made me want to experience driving a BMW 3 Series even though I know I would go through a similar “but what if I’m not good at it” thing.

  • poopinginpeace

    2010/03/16 at 2:00 pm

    We do take the weather for granted here in L.A. I hate to say it, but I do get sick of it being hot and sunny all the time. I know, I know. I do appreciate it more a little bit this past week, because it has been rainier and chillier here than usual, so I am excited for the warm sunny weather. On another note, TV show or movie? I know that’s what you had to be here for. I’m going to go ahead and assume the powers that be here in Hollywood have something in the works based on your life. Can’t wait until you can talk about it! My only question is, who’s going to play you??

  • d3 voiceworks

    2010/03/16 at 2:08 pm

    don’t hate me for my sweet ride: a 2000 subaru legacy brighton wagon. rust, too!

    also, without snow and differing weather patterns, there would be no winter sporting. (and thus, no broken tailbone, but still …)

  • yennit

    2010/03/16 at 2:10 pm

    All those pix and none of the Beemer? Dang.

  • linuxchik

    2010/03/16 at 2:17 pm

    does anybody know HOW top gear shoots and edits their show? i mean, do they do multiple takes with cameras along the road, or get it all in one take? it blows my mind!

  • twodoghouse

    2010/03/16 at 2:35 pm

    Oh Heather, I love you guys. I’m sending this to my husband because he may or may not have a thing for “Top Gear” and fast cars.

  • agablack

    2010/03/16 at 2:36 pm

    Heather, I know it’s not easy to be ALWAYS funny, even when one’s naturally gifted like you are, but, girl, did you just make me laugh! As in LOL. Awesome.
    Btw, I was bummed you didn’t make any public appearances (as in meant for the public) while here in LA. I was hoping to shake your palm and all. Cheers!

  • Tinkquilts

    2010/03/16 at 2:37 pm

    Sounds just like something my husband would want to do ~ but me, no way ~ no how!

  • joypeters

    2010/03/16 at 2:48 pm

    this is my favorite app too! as a photographer, i shiver to think of the day that this kind of adjustment will be available to the public at a .99 push of the button.

  • Curiosity

    2010/03/16 at 3:06 pm

    My husband has the same thing for fast computers. I have never yet tried pushing the m key, with or without using shift, but I imagine the results would be somewhat less hilarious than yours.

  • LoJo

    2010/03/16 at 3:18 pm

    That is my absolute favorite iPhone photo editing tool… love seeing your pictures around LA!!

  • It Only Gets Better

    2010/03/16 at 3:21 pm

    I just want you to know that you make me think about photography in a completely different way than anyone else. Thanks!

  • LizinVa

    2010/03/16 at 3:28 pm

    So did this trip to LA have anything to do with the sitcom starring John Larroquette that you mentioned a few years ago?

    And about that twitter party…where are the donettes and cigarettes?

  • foodandscience

    2010/03/16 at 3:57 pm

    Beautiful weather…. oops and an earthquake. Oh yeah, the earthquake at 4 am this morning that you missed!! Jolted me out of bed and my poor darling french bulldog started a ruckus barking and she never barks. How am I supposed to sleep after that? Gotta love LA!

  • ekp

    2010/03/16 at 3:59 pm

    You didn’t take any pictures of the BMW?!?! I think my head just exploded like Leta’s. I was so hopeful through the entire post that there would be a picture at the end.

    However, props to you guys (Jon) for renting a BMW!

  • Jacquie

    2010/03/16 at 4:18 pm

    You must have been very popular among the Friday afternoon LA drivers. I hope you hollered a few “gal dang” expletives when you kicked that durn tire.

  • stealthnerd

    2010/03/16 at 4:20 pm

    My mom got a 3 series a few years ago and I only just barely figured out how to drive it recently. It is super grabby on the gas pedal. If you really want to learn how to drive one quickly, try finding out your mom has a detached retina and needs emergency eye surgery. After hearing that, I named the car Lola and figured we’d better as heck get to bonding since I was the only one in the house with working eyes.

  • gretchie

    2010/03/16 at 5:14 pm

    Ok. You’ve seen every episode of Top Gear. So you saw the Miami episode. I actually bought a used cop car from the dealership where the owner was packing heat. I was like, HONEY, YOU GOTTA SEE THIS!! ENGLAND KNOWS ABOUT THE COP CAR PLACE!!! So exciting!

  • yakygirl

    2010/03/16 at 5:15 pm

    Picture #10 is in Westchester on Sepulveda, yes? I’m there all the time. Can’t believe I may have seen you and Jon driving on Sepulveda! Squeee!

  • barbara

    2010/03/16 at 5:45 pm

    Love the photos. It’s hard to believe they were taken with your phone. I guess it goes to show you that a talented photographer can take a photo with anything!

  • twhitten

    2010/03/16 at 10:53 pm

    I wouldn’t a last second. My husband even breaks 1 second too late and I’m all GOD Chris did you SEE the car in front of us, I have now whittled him down to a 5 mile below the speed limit driver.. ha-ha.


  • owithrow

    2010/03/16 at 7:49 pm

    Dude, seriously? You know you are a great photographer when you take pics like that with your iPhone. LOVE THEM ALL!

    The car sounds fun but I would have never driven it. You’re awesome!

  • suzanne

    2010/03/16 at 7:55 pm

    LOVE Top Gear! My husband works at a BMW dealership so I am driving one. Heather, whatchoo need, girl, is a 5 series – it has just the regular center stick which automatic transmission, but you can hit it to the left and it turns to DS which is SPORT mode! You don’t have to change gears, it’s still automatic but it is PEPPY AS HELL! It will put your head into the headrest definitely. I have to share one of my recent Facebook posts because it is related and note how I sound like Heather LOL:

    So we’re in the car and there’s a good bit of traffic so I whipped it over to sport mode and pulled out for my left turn a little fast, then apologized to my back seaters for not giving them any warning. Garrett(9): that’s ok, I was holding on. Lucy Claire (6): I wish I’d put my hands up!

    Yeah, I think I’m in trouble.

  • HeckYes

    2010/03/16 at 8:25 pm

    Seven years, that’s it? I’ve lived in Utah my whole life!!! Can you even imagine?!? Sorry, it’s not your fault. But this explains why I’m teetering perilously close to a nervous breakdown. Luckily I booked a trip to Florida for next week, so hopefully I can make it until then (fingers crossed).

    Anyway, your pictures are awesome! I’m glad you had a good time, you deserve it!

  • WVKay

    2010/03/16 at 8:47 pm

    Life is good!! Y’all enjoy. Thanks for sharing.

  • Emry

    2010/03/16 at 8:54 pm

    I would have totally gone for the MOST PEOPLE USE THIS ONE button. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have even driven the car, certainly not in LA. I’m from the country, too, complete with plows and horses, and the one time I was in LA I vowed that I would never, ever get behind the wheel of a car there.

  • theallisonwonderland

    2010/03/16 at 8:55 pm

    I would very much appreciate that hug since it gets a little old.

    I don’t mind what I’m make. I’m 27 and I can afford the classy Mac and Cheese over Top Raman. Which means “I’m making it” in twenty-something speak.

    The problem is the overwhelming sadness that I have no earning potential.

    No raise for good work.
    No commision for awesomeness.
    No bonus. Not never.

    That’s the sad part.

    But I’d take the hug. And at least the reassuring “we know you deserve better” pat.

    I would also take the 3 series if the hug was unavailable.


  • Daily Cup of Jo

    2010/03/17 at 12:53 am

    So you were the crazy bitch in front of me on Crescent Heights! Wow, I don’t even know you and I just called you a bitch. I’m sorry.

    Yeah, the grass is always greener. I’d rather have a snowy winter and appreciate spring than all this damn sunshine. But I’ll admit, it’s beautiful. If it wasn’t for the earth shaking.

  • Leslie_Yum

    2010/03/17 at 6:30 am

    I’m also rather Type A, and so is my boyfriend. Because of this I will frequently try to intimidate him by telling him stories (lies) about the things I’ve accomplished so that he WON’T challenge me. I hate losing…

  • 7LostNana

    2010/03/17 at 7:27 am

    … :O !!! We just have plain old Manual drive, in Italy…I had some troubles getting on to the automatic one in Japan. The idea I couldn’t fully control the motor made me nervous.

  • Trish has 3 girls

    2010/03/17 at 8:52 am

    What was the “S” for? I would think Standard, but isn’t standard the same as Manual? Help a girl out. It’s going to drive me nuts.


  • commspro

    2010/03/17 at 11:38 am

    Jon shaved?

  • luv and kiwi

    2010/03/17 at 11:59 am

    sigh you make la sound so cool…as i sit here in the valley loathing the hot weather

  • sgigs

    2010/03/17 at 12:09 pm

    I love LA. Thanks for bringing a bit of it into my day.

  • Kaydub8

    2010/03/17 at 12:16 pm

    Just wanted to say re the LA thing that Taylor Schilling (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2279940/) needs to play you. Talk about a twin!

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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