Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Believe Me Now?

Have you ever been caught in a situation that appeared to the outside observer to be 100%, beyond a shadow of a doubt, absolutely, OJ in the white Bronco, Clinton's semen on Lewinsky's dress, Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with the candlestick your fault? But it wasn't?

When my sister and I were in high school my parents recognized the need for a third car to accommodate our respective extracurricular activities. Early on in our pre driver's license days, there were a few too many left-at-the-soccer-field-until-8pm nights because one parent assumed the other was taking care of pick up duties. Additionally, my sister and I were into very, very different things and there was little to zero chance a band concert and a soccer tournament were going to be held a convenient distance from one another at the same time. A third car was necessary.

The problem was that said third car was not a high mileage Civic or Accord - either would have been an affordable and reliable buy - but a near brand spanking new Chevrolet Corsica. For those of you unfamiliar with the Chevy Corsica (it no longer exists), it has to be one of the most appalling, shambolic shit shows of a vehicle ever produced by an American automotive manufacturer. Seriously. Google it.

My sister and I had no knowledge of this at the time as my father was still viewed by both of us as the End All Be All of Universal Wisdom. That's some serious shit. Even though I was into my teenage angst years, I still thought of the Old Man as some sort of indestructible amalgam of Chuck Norris, Thomas Jefferson, and that guy from the Dos Equis commercials. The thought that he would be duped into buying an authentic lemon was beyond my ability to comprehend.

And then I started driving the car.

Everything about the Chevy Corsica was cheap, even the knobs on the radio felt like they were going to break as soon as you touched them (They didn't, but they only held out for a month or two). The brakes felt soft and dangerously incapable of performing their duty in an emergency situation (I think my parents invested in at least two costly brake jobs in the three years we owned the car). "Ergonomics" was clearly not a word that entered into the engineers' vocabulary when they were sitting around discussing the features they wanted to include in the car. Quite the contrary. After a few months driving the car, I began to wonder if, perhaps, the opposite had happened. Maybe the Corsica was one big joke on the American auto buying public perpetrated by Chevrolet engineers fed up with being told to constantly cut costs. It's as if they sat around and brainstormed how they could turn every good idea they had into a massive, stinking pile of suck.

Still, I was pumped to have a car to drive around in. I don't want to sound ungrateful. I have some fond memories of that car (And it's back seat...sorry Mom and Dad!). It's nice not having to ask for a ride everywhere and the freedom it afforded me as a high school kid in a part of Texas where NOTHING was within walking distance was delicious.

The downside of this situation was that my dad was still not convinced that the car was a POS. Every little creak or shimmy or grind was CLEARLY evidence to him that my sister and I were driving the car too hard and not doing our part to make sure that it was well maintained inside and out. At one point, the upholstery lining the interior of the roof of the car started to sag. Shoddy craftsmanship and cheap adhesive? No way. My sister or I had obviously done something, reckless, irresponsible, and damaging that caused the upholstery to sag. What this could have been, I still have no idea. When the brakes went out for the second time, it was because we were driving and stopping WAY too fast. I'll admit, I drove like most teenaged boys do, but not nearly aggressive enough to account for two brake jobs.

The cake taker here, and the one thing that broke on the car that my dad was absolutely unwilling to believe was not entirely my fault, happened when I was turning in to our subdivision on my way home from soccer practice. It was a completely normal, mostly forgettable day. Nothing at all out of the ordinary happened and I was in no way abnormally tense, angry, or otherwise in need of physical release. I slowed as I approached the entry to our subdivision and reached up with my left hand to click the signal arm down to make a left hand turn. I was in no way angry, tense, or overly aggressive in this motion. However, the ENTIRE FUCKING TURN SIGNAL SNAPPED and then dangled ridiculously from the side of the steering wheel. I was in shock. After I made the turn, I pulled into our driveway and inspected the clean break in what appeared to be really sturdy plastic. Operative word here being "appeared."

How was I going to explain this? Thinking I'd done no wrong and believing that honesty was the best policy, I walked into the house and confidently explained to my dad what had happened. As I spoke I realized I should have come up with a really good lie. My dad scoffed and pursed his lips in a way that said, "You're my son, and I love you, but you're also totally full of shit right now." He walked out to the driveway and inspected the impotent turn signal for himself and, I believe, became further convinced that I'd done something in keeping with the rambunctiousness of my age rather than merely gone to turn left.

The turn signal was eventually repaired, but after that day I always thought about signaling with my arm out of the window when I wanted to turn left. Once we got rid of the car I tried to explain again to my dad that what had really happened that day was exactly what I told him. I still don't think he believed me. So Dad, if you're reading this, here's a list of things I have done:

I did hide grapes in my underwear as a child because I didn't want to eat them. I then snuck said grapes away from the dinner table to be disposed of in your golf bag. I'm sorry.

I did use all of you and Mom's expensive bath gel in the tub because it was green and I thought it would be cool as toxic waste when I was playing with my GI Joe men. It didn't just start coming out of the faucet as I claimed (My most ridiculous lie ever). I'm sorry.

As a three year old, I did drop a deuce on the back porch and claim a dog had jumped the six foot fence, shit on the porch, and then re-jumped the fence to vanish into thin air (My second most ridiculous lie ever). I'm sorry.

When Mom walked in to the living room on prom night my senior year at 2AM, my date and I were not actually just watching Mr. Wizard (My third most ridiculous lie ever). Thank you, Mom for taking your time walking down the hall and being extra loud. Still, I'm sorry.

When I came home the morning after Rachel's wedding...at 11AM...still in my tux, it's not because I spent the night at the hotel with the other groomsmen. Read in to that what you will. I'm sorry.

That Easter when I stayed up at school and you asked me what I did over the long weekend and I said, "Not much, just hung around campus." What I really meant to say was, "Barrett and I drove to Shreveport at 2AM and played blackjack for two days." I'm sorry.

I could go on and on, but I think I've proved my point, which is this:

When I told you the turn signal snapped off simply because I went to signal left, I mean THE TURN SIGNAL SNAPPED OFF SIMPLY BECAUSE I WENT TO SIGNAL LEFT. I'm not sorry.


Jenn Cali Style said...

Your top 3 ridiculous lies made me guffaw. Literally. Thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

One of the best posts yet....

Pancho said...

Thanks Jenn! The thing with a ridiculous lie is that you either crack immediately or you convince yourself that it's so ludicrous no one will ever suspect you of making it up. I failed on the first two. Third time's a charm?

And Anonymous, thanks!

Rachel said...

OK, but you did smoke in the car when you borrowed it from me in college when we were supposed to be trading it off over the semester break. And I'm throwing you under the bus on that one because you got lucky in the back seat and I NEVER DID.

My Corsica sin: I got blind drunk at a party my sophomore year in college and drove one block away to make everyone think I'd left and then slept all night in the front seat, which makes me agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of its ergonomics. And I'm kind of sorry for that one re: the drinking, but not for the scheme to avoid driving drunk...