Saturday, September 20, 2008

Let's Welcome Toni to the Family

To understand this post fully, and how it affects me, you might want to read Dave's Car History

I'm hanging out at The Happiest Place in the Mall the other day, and I get a text message. "Call me when you have a minute". The Lovely Steph Leann needs to converse with me for some reason, and I'm puzzled why.

Could she have discovered my hidden stash of Sweet Valley High novels? Did she find the full 3rd season of Manimal on my computer? Surely not... its well hidden. (I'm just kidding. I don't have Manimal on my computer... duh!). Or maybe she finally realized that she's so far out of my league, its funny, and she wants to negotiate a deal... who knows...

I call her back, and after the usual married pleasantries, she tells me, "Okay, so my cousin JoAnna is selling her car." Its a 95 Honda Accord, with 102K miles on it. The price is extremely cheap, and its in really good condition... do we want it? (I only say "extremely cheap" because I don't know if JoAnna offered it to anyone else and and what price, so I don't want to put her on the spot--if you really wanna know, just ask me)

We discuss it for a few days, consider the options, and decide its worth a look-see. But when to go? The car is in Gadsden, an hour up the road, I've got a very busy weekend, I'm at The Happiest Place in the Mall and The Most Caffeinated Place in Soho Monday and Tuesday, maybe Wednesday, but that night we need to pack, because on Thursday, we're going to The Happiest Place on Earth Not Next to The Lovely Steph Leann with our friends DeLisa and DeNick.

After more discussion, we finally decided I would drive my car, a 1999 Mercury Sable Piezochitt, up to Gadsden. ("If you break down, mom said she'd come get you," is what The Lovely Steph Leann had to say.) And, as planned, yesterday after I clocked out at The Most Caffeinated Place in Soho and drove up to Gadsden.

As I pulled into the Phillips yard, I saw the beige/champagne/tan car sitting in the driveway. "Hmm," I muttered to myself. I stepped out, and met up with Mrs JoAnna's Mom, and we discussed the car.

Here's my thing... when I bought the Mercury Sable Piezochitt in 2000, I almost felt bullied into getting it. I had my eye on a small Toyota, something good on gas mileage, not too expensive. But I was steered into the Sable, but really, through no fault of my own. I was a senior at Monetarily Unstable High School, and was a few years away from my freshman year at Financial Peace University, and really didn't know how to bargain, bluff, negotiate or anything. So I said, "Okay." And took it.

I never, ever felt the car was me. I know thats a dumb thing to say, I mean, what makes anything "you", but while its dumb, every person reading this can nod their head yes. Sometimes there are some things that are just... well... You. The Sable was not me. In all fairness, its lasted me 7 years and I've almost put 100,000 miles on it. But along the way, I've had numerous mechanical problems, everything from motor mounts to a cracked engine head to broken valves to busted pipes to frayed cables to a stupid driver's side door lock that has forced me, for over two years, to go to the passenger side to unlock my door, then circle around to the driver's side. It helps me look good, though, when Lil Sister Ashley or KT or someone is riding with me, cause I always open their door. When The Lovely Steph Leann and I go anywhere, we ALWAYS take her car.

Mrs JoAnna's Mom and I discuss the car for a few, and she offers me the keys to take it out for a drive. I open the driver door, and it pops. There's a slight hinge hang-up, but that's workable. I start the car up, and it sounds good. I rev the engine slightly, and it sounds good too. I close the door and back out of the driveway, and begin to drive. The windows are down, the radio is on, and again, I say, "Hmmmm...."

The Phillips' live off a main highway, back a few little sidestreets, so I take the car around the streets, turning, speeding up, slowing down... I turn onto the main highway, and accelerate. It feels good. I like it. I turn around and head back down the sidestreets, and slam on the brakes. They work too, well.

Mr. JoAnna's Dad comes home. We discuss a little more, he offers me a price, which is really, really good. We strike an agreement for me to leave the Sable Piezochitt there, and drive the Honda home to Birmingham, let me drive it for the weekend, let me get a feel for it around town. I back it out, pull up next to my car, and unload some important stuff into the Honda. Papers, my backpack, my Sword, notebooks, audiobooks, 9 CDs I got at the library to upload, some shoes and other fun stuff.

My mind begins to jump ahead little... owning this car. One thing I notice quickly is that there is no slip. In the Sable, when you press the gas, the car hesitates for a second, then pops into place with a jerk. The transmission is slipping. The transmission will need work, soon. Anytime you put the words "transmission" and "work" together, its not good times. Bad times indeed.

I'm heading down I-20, windows down, hair blowing. There is a CD player in this car. I've NEVER, EVER had a CD player in my car. No, I'm not kidding. Well, for my first, its a dandy--its a fancy-schmancy Panasonic player, one of those that you remove the faceplate when you leave the car so it doesn't get jacked.

My problem with the CD player is that... well, I really don't know how to work it. Seriously. I don't know how to turn it off. While I'm doing 77 miles per hour, I'm giving quick glances to it, pressing some buttons on it, seeing what happens. Too bad I don't have a CD to put in it.

"This car needs a name," I think to myself. The Lovely Steph Leann always names her cars. I don't know her first one, but the Escort she had was named Georgiana. Her current Honda Accord (2003) is named Isadora. She truly is a Victorian plantation mistress from 1829 trapped in a scrapbook queen body in 2008.

I race through names in my head... Emily... Mandy... Megan... Leigh... none of them seem to fit, until... Miranda. Yeah... Miranda. I like it. It kinda, sorta fits. Miranda. My first real Troy State friend, way back in 1993, was named Miranda Bryant. I think I'll go with that.

I'm noticing different things on the car, the windows, the gears, the display, the seats, the headliner... and of course, the car is really, really dirty. I mean, my car--the Sable--is dirty too, but its my filth, so I'm thinking I will have to remedy this soon. If I do purchase, I'll take it to the car wash to get it cleaned... but did I bring my debit card? Or my cash? My hand reaches back behind the passenger seat, fumbling in my backpack for my wallet, and I glance back. There they are. Sitting on the back seat. CDs. The ones I borrowed from the Hoover Public Library.

My hand goes back to the seat and my fingers enclose on several plastic cases. I hold them to the side, as, while still watching the road, my eyes quickly glance the artists... Kenny Rogers.... no... Luther Vandross... no... The Traveling Wilburys... no.... Sheryl Crow's latest... no... wait... its... Toni Braxton. YES!

I pop in Toni, and immediately one of my favorite Toni Tunes comes on... "Give U My Heart", from the Eddie Murphy movie "Boomerang", on the Dave200. Soon after, its "Love Shoulda Brought You Home", followed by "Another Sad Love Song", "You Mean the World To Me" and "Breathe Again". My life rocks.

I'm driving down the interstate, driving a comfy, fun, good looking car, a car that isn't sputtering, a car that isn't making freaky, squeaky, funky, junky noises, a car that has a CD player, albeit one I don't know how to work, a car that... I am really enjoying driving. Maybe its because the car is just fun, or maybe because its all the things that most of my previous cars haven't been, but either way, Toni Braxton is blasting, its a cool Fall-Eve day, its a good, good day.

So much so that I'm even just smiling, smiling for no reason. Miranda is a good car. Miranda? Am I committed to that? What if its not Miranda... what if its... what if its... Toni? Like, Toni Braxton? Well the car is small, just like Toni Braxton, and the car has the same color as Toni Braxton... I think we might have a winner. In an instant, Miranda became Toni. (as a shout-out to J Roberts, I think the "full name", if a car can have a full name, is Toni Rocki Honda).

I give you... Toni Rocki Honda. No, you probably won't hear me refer to my car as "Toni" on any other place besides the blog...

The rest of my evening off went by way too fast... Toni and I toured Birmingham, making stops at Wal-Mart, The Happiest Place in the Mall, Long John Silver's... but first, was the stop at Regal Car Wash. Twenty bucks later, Toni is shining and polished, vacuuming out.

Back in the day, The Deuce put out two CDs. My friend Jenn Pritchett (now Glenn) got one, and told me later that she had a problem with it--when she put it in her car, a Honda no less, it wouldn't come out because of the label. I was reminded of this 2002 conversation when I inserted my copy of "Dave's Guilty Pleasures, Volume 3" into my CD player in the car.

"Dave's Guilty Pleasures", volumes 1, 2 and 3 is a CD set I put together filled with cheeseball songs that everyone likes, but no one quite admits how much they like them--White Lion, The Jets, Stereo MCs, Dino, Expose, The Divinyls, etc...

And when I went to eject it, it didnt come out. Later, I put a pair of tweezers in my car, just to use to pull out any CDs with labels on them.


Does anyone know how to work this thing?

What to do with the Sable? Our thought was to sell it, but I'll be honest... If I have a few grand to get a beater car, and I see a car like the one I currently own, for $2K (the amount we'd love to get for it) I might look at it... but when I find out it has transmission issues, I'm looking elsewhere. The other option is to donate it, and take the tax write off--the Kelley Blue Book for my car in its condition is around $2800--but honestly, I don't really know how that works. Does anyone know if you can just name your deduction, as long as its reasonable? It there a formula? Anyone?

So, my new-to-me car has a weird door pop, and a trunk that takes a little extra hhmph. There was also the issue of the "University of Alabama" sticker on the back window, but I scraped most of it off, and placed a Florida Gators logo over it, so that problem is solved.

Well, off to get a haircut. Its been a good, good day.


  1. Hey David, You could probably ask karen Cheney about the tax write off or whatever because she is the guru of all things taxes. And she's my awesome mother.

  2. You know how I know your gay? You named your car.

  3. You know how I know your gay? you admitted to being jealous of jake gyllenhaal in brokeback mountain (when you watched it. alone)


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