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Death of a Champion Part 1

It is such a good thing that I hedged my bets and stayed home today. As you know, I took our Suburban in Monday for an oil change. I go to the dealership because they also go over the whole car, hoping to find other things wrong and therefore get to keep it for a week, do a million dollars of repairs, and then pat me on the head and send me home penniless.

So I told Anthony right up front: “Take a good look at this car. We got it brand new 12 years ago exactly. We have 5 kids. They are monsters. There is nothing breakable on this car that is not broken. There is nothing moveable that we have not moved. Permanently. I have a bag full of parts in the backseat that I do not intend to stick back on. Take the car and change the oil. Make THE LIST, and I will go home and look it over (translation: “I will laugh and file it in the round file”) and get back to you.”

So maybe I was just curious about what they would find.

“Oh yeah, and don’t set the parking brake, because the release broke awhile back and I have to thread a shoelace up through it if it gets accidentally set. And sorry about that door. You just put your finger into the jagged hole – gently! – and pull the door shut when you’re ready to drive.” Armrests are for wimps.

I tried to keep the car decent. Sure, road trips and beach sand and meals on wheels occur, but that’s washable. It was when my adorable last-born child keyed my car (it’s the happy face on the driver’s side) that I realized this was the family vehicle; I should just breathe and let it go. After all, priorities, right?

So Anthony changed the oil, made the list, didn’t even try the lecture, and handed my keys over. “One thing,” he says, as I’m trying to slink out the side door, “Both brake shoes on the back are cracked. If you want to fix just one thing, you may want to do the brakes.” Good idea.

I already know about the brakes. My oldest daughter drove all the way to work and back about three months ago, with the parking brake set. How was she supposed to know it was set? It’s broken, right? No one was supposed to set it. So the weird smell and the odd behavior of the car seemed…odd. Sigh. So for three months I stall because we just DID brakes, it seems like, and as long the car will stop, we’ll get around to it. Grr.

Tuesday, two blocks from home, the brakes give way. I have had this happen before if we must be honest, and I swore never to repeat the experience. You are coming up to the intersection, brake slowly, then a car jumps in front of you (or a wildebeest, if you must make the story more dramatic to stave off a furious husband) and you hit the brake hard, and suddenly you hear a *pop* and feel a —-sliiiide—- and the car is simply not going to stop, so you pump the brake while looking frantically side to side for a soft tree to land in, and the car grinds slowly to a stop right where you desperately need it to.

You can’t use the emergency brake in an emergency, remember? You don’t have your lace-up shoes on.

Published inLiving Larger


  1. Laura Laura

    So enjoyable to read your writing. You are such a great narrative writer. When we going to Palm Springs again?

    • Oh boy! I’m thinking something a lil bigger…plane, train or (anyone else’s) automobile? 😉

  2. Michelle Michelle

    Crap, I’m sure my Suburban with my 5 kids is next. It’s said “service stability” ,”check washer fluid, and has a whining sound (I thought it was one of the kids), from under the hood, for about a year. You just jinxed me.

    • It’s often hard to tell the difference between the kids’ whining, the car’s whining, and my own whining! It helps to turn up the radio.

  3. Kiki Kiki

    Love this! So clever and enjoyable! So, your family 🙂

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