Friday, June 08, 2007
Every soccer moment is all about the car for us, and the upcoming US Youth Soccer Regionals are no exception. We own this not so ancient but overdriven Toyota Sienna known as the ""cracked blue egg."" The check engine light has been on for two years. The ash tray pops open without warning spilling the hundreds of coins we stuff in there for tolls outside of Illinois and emergency Starbucks.
The parking brake doesn't work. Well, because I back out in a hurry and forget to disengage it…I think Starbucks might cause dementia for me. In fact, I once drove 20 miles down the toll way with the parking brake engaged wondering about that horrible shimmy. Returning from soccer practice I have slammed into a piece of concrete on the toll way in the dark going 75 miles an hour (yes I know the speed limit is 55, but if I drove 55 I would add 15 more years to my soccer driving life) throwing a rod into the air conditioning unit that I had had recharged only ten days before at a cost of $500, much to the delight of my mechanic, who tongue in cheek asked if I now wanted to purchase a warranty for my re-recharge.
On the way to another practice, my husband barreled through the toll booth gate in an I-Pass lane that said ""15 mph"", apparently the speed at which you must be traveling to totally obliterate the gate. In the process the shattered gate tore off the windshield washer cap on the driver's side so that for three weeks until the cap could be replaced, fluid merely gurgled out like a baby blowing bubbles.
The car has had six sets of tires, the rear door replaced after another soccer mom slid on the ice and rear ended me in her new SUV, the air conditioner has been refurbished twice (see above), the parking brake readjusted four times (see above again), the oil changed 55 times, the check engine light turned off just before state inspection so I could pass (it came back on during the drive home), the gas cap replaced eight times in an attempt to get the check engine light to turn off and stay off (see above in case you want to know if it worked), the transmission fluid changed six times (and the transmission still slips), the passenger side seat belt changed once, and enough gasoline pumped into it to keep the King of Burundi in gold for eternity.
The interior is so dirty that I have given up even trying to remember what color it is. If I remember, I think it is gray, but with the dirt that is very deceiving. I may have leather seats, or they may just be so coated in spilled sodas and Gatorade that they have achieved the same slippery smooth texture. The exterior is so dusty/muddy that no one can even hope to etch "Wash me"" into the plaster.
My 16 year-old son, the one who is playing in Regionals, is mortified by our car. On the Paris Hilton scale of chic, we can't even aspire to ""cool"". All we can hope for is mildly disgusting – though I'm not sure we can raise that high. It is a wreck of car that manages to transport us approximately 1,000 miles a week to and from soccer practice, games and tournaments. And with each turn of the key, each rotation of the tires, each mile on the odometer, we say a quick thank you to the vehicle gods for those small gifts.
So now we will be going to Des Moines, Iowa, some 384 miles one way from Mequon, Wisconsin. Will the ""cracked egg"" hold up? Will my son live through the embarrassment? Will gas prices drop? (That last question was actually meant to be ironic.) Will the road rise up to meet us or will it swallow us?
It's all about the car. If it can take us to Des Moines, then we have actually already won. There's no gold medal, but there is a celebration. If you see a family whooping and hollering in the hotel parking lot, throwing confetti, and in the bargain totally embarrassing their 16 year-old son, you have probably come across the Boyd family. Stop and say hello, or better yet, offer a sacrifice on our behalf to the vehicle gods.
I hear they love shattered toll gates.