Thursday, June 30, 2005

Where is Grandpa's automobile?

Last Saturday was the 13th annual Greenwood Car Show, one of my favorite combinations of cornball civic event and red-blooded 'Murrican passion for any damn thing on wheels. I've been attending for close to a decade, now, and the show has gone from a handful of hobbyists to an astonishing 15-block stretch of street rods, classic cars, and virtually any mode of transport that can be considered antique, unique, or some degree of both.

The best thing about this show, actually, is that it's open to all comers; while many car shows are exclusive, limited to British classics or muscle cars or whatever, Greenwood takes anybody that has the $20 for the registration and the commemorative t-shirt. Got a cherry '65 Mustang convertible or an outrageously customized, pearl-pink '49 Chev? C'mon down. Vespa? Sure. Colossal Mercedes UNIMOG? You're in. One year I saw a lovingly restored General Lee of "Dukes of Hazzard" fame, one of the dozen or so Dodge Chargers the show had had for alternate takes on the gully-jumpin', still-crashin', hood-slidin' antics of the Duke boys. The owner had driven the car cross-country, and provided a photo album of snapshots of the General, posed in front of various landmarks: the General Lee at the Grand Coulee Dam, the General Lee welcomes you to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada.

Sis has been showing her vintage MINI at Greenwood for three or four years, now. She has a 1963 Riley Elf; it's one of several models built on the MINI chassis, and in the Riley's case features a trunk about the right size to put a croquet set in. It's a deep turquoise with a white top, so it looks like the Pyrex casserole dishes of the same era. It also features right-hand drive; she taught herself to manage the stick shift lefty style. Whenever I ride with her, I always feel vaguely fretful, as if I ought to be doing SOMETHING over there on the left to help, with all that naked dashboard in front of me.

I live a few blocks from Greenwood Avenue, so Friday night we had a Thirty-Something Slumber Party, which involved going out for Indian food and then smearing on our respective wrinkle goops and conking out by 10:30. Girls gone wild! Of course, we had to get up at holy shit o'clock to convoy to the site with the rest of the local MINI club. The processional was pretty awesome, I have to say: fifteen wee British automobiles creeping down the block in a row, the air thick with diesel fumes and Krispy Kremes. I could feel individual brain cells fizzling out in all the exhaust, but nonetheless it was cool. In the other lane, Model A Fords and tricked-out GTOs trundled past us. One guy joined our group in a tiny two-cylinder Mazda hatchback, the only one in the U.S. according to him. It looked like a cross between a Honda Civic and something that Fisher-Price people would tool around in. "What the hell IS that?" hollered a knot of tattooed greasers who'd already chosen a spot, with their deeply-cuffed jeans and their matte black hot rods.

And's eight hours of sitting in camp chairs behind your parked car, getting sunburned, eating chicken wings, shooting the shit with approximately 7,000 clones of My Dad, and everyone's dad. It's a little ridiculous, and a little boring, and a lot of the straight-up evident love love LOVE Americans have for their cars. Does this translate to other cultures, I wonder? Holly, are there classic car meets like this in Munich? It is so dorky and tacky, and somehow I adore it so. There is musical entertainment: good, like the Dixieland jazz combo that set up across the street from us, and...less good, like the pudgy bar band down the block, laboring through the "Grease" soundtrack with gusto if not so much talent. Enterprising little kids come out to hawk lemonade or Tollhouse cookies sealed in individual sandwich baggies, 25 cents. ("Do you want change?" the cookie girl asked me politely when I handed her a dollar, and whoever taught her to say that was a genius because what stingy bastard is going to demand 75 cents back from a third-grader? The kid was raking in bills.) The Masonic Lodge grills weenies, which you can get with chips and a pop for an amazing $2, and they'll give you the most-burnt one if you ask nicely. The boys down at Fire Station 21 have hot dogs, too, and hold an open house for neighborhood kids to climb on the truck and stagger around in giant fire helmets, or take turns aiming the hose down 73rd Street. (Every year, I tell myself this is the year I ask, "Hey, can I play with your hose?" and every year I wimp out and slink past, gawping and trying not to run into anything. Hot firefighters! Damn! Can't form sentences!)

We were chillin' with the MINI club when we noticed a woman gently running her hands over Sis's car. This is a pretty strict no-no for 98% of the show, what with the untold hours most owners spend on blood, sweat, tears, and buffing. I know from experience to peer daintily through windows and under hoods with my hands clasped behind my back and my purse secured in an armpit. But then we noticed the woman's companion, fingerspelling into her hand: she was deaf and blind.

Mom's an interpreter for the deaf. She went over and introduced herself, and took the woman's hands in her own, began telling her about the car. Sis joined them and opened the driver's door; Mom translated between them, as the lady traced the Riley's little cartoon shape, slipped into the seat, gleefully turned the wheel like a toddler would. Her face, Mom's face, Sis's face...all lit up. There was a guy across the street with a 30s Caddy; he'd refused to let her touch it, the man with her said. But she'd really wanted to "see" the MINIs. She beamed, sitting in my sister's bubble-sized toy car. They went to the car show every year, they told us.

That was cool.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bloody hell

Yet more Oversharing is imminent. Squeamish? You might want to run off and look at outrageously expensive but undeniably gorgeous photos of adorable babies, instead, today. (I told Krispy, "Those pictures made my uterus send up a flare!" which she claimed was patriotically appropriate, with the pending Fourth.)

Anyway. So today, while I was sitting at my desk, my back itched...just in that spot you can barely get at. So, contorting myself appropriately, I scratched it. I could feel a little teeny bump, mole or mosquito bite or blemish, dunno. It didn't hurt...but my fingers came away wet. With blood. Eeek.

I squirmed around, trying to figure out what exactly I'd done, continued to bleed. And bleed. The hell? I finally slunk into the restroom and stuffed a folded wad of t.p. under my bra strap, struggling to align it with the steadily bleeding, miniscule spot I still couldn't...quite...reach. Having stuffed the entirely wrong part of the bra, so to speak, I went back to my desk.

Where after about twenty minutes, I noticed that the t.p. felt clammy.


I obviously have no dignity left in my life, people. I mean, yesterday I went back to the doctor for MORE examination of my complexion woes, for which I now have two ointments, one of which, the pharmacist announced to the room at large, I must SWAB IN MY NOSTRILS with a Q-Tip. And TODAY, I had to go to one of the female managers, and hike up my shirt, so that she could put a band-aid on my apparent mystery SHRAPNEL WOUND in this place I could neither see or reach.

It soaked through in half an hour.

I IMed Darcy in a bit of a state. "You have got to help me," I said (she works in a different building). Mercifully, NerdCo has incredibly well-stocked First Aid cabinets, with antiseptic wipes and ointments and gauze squares; I was afraid I'd have to tape a maxipad to my shoulder. As it was, I simply had to DISROBE huddled in Darcy's office, holding the blinds and the door shut and holding my bra on and praying that no one would actually come by to DO SOME WORK FOR GOD'S SAKE while poor, dear Nurse Darcy mopped up the inexplicable HORROR MOVIE on my back and plastered me with bandages. I am sure I will have the adhesive remnants of a square outline on my skin for the rest of the summer...but we seemed to get it stopped. What the hell did I do, anyway? Scratch off a mole by accident? Spring a leak? Develop some sort of breakfast-donut-induced hemophilia instantaneously?

"That is so weird," Darcy said. "It's tiny. It looks like this." She drew a wee dot on a sheet of paper.

Just another fun day at the office: deadlines, annual reviews, and two different people seeing me IN MY BLOODY BRA. My genuinely bloody bra! STREAKED AND STAINED WITH GORE! It looks like it belongs to a knife-fightin' whore, people.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when that nightmare I have where all my teeth fall out PROBABLY COMES TRUE.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A haiku from today's commute

I saw your three-foot bong
Lost, fallen on I-5
Seriously: bummer

Friday, June 10, 2005

What it's like to work here

You know, at NerdCo.

Across the hall, one of the tech writers is tussling with a tightly-sealed box. It suddenly begins to emit "k-pow! k-pow!" laser-blasting noises.

"What are you doing over there?" I ask.

"My Batmobile," he explains, fully wresting the model from its packaging.