Friday, October 8 2004
I've never owned or otherwise been responsible for a vehicle that wasn't old and idiosyncratic. Not that my vehicles haven't been reliable; they mostly have been. But getting them to pass state inspections has never been the straightforward procedure other people experience. With my old Punch Buggy Green, for example, the problem was rust holes through the floor. Back then I had a mechanic in Fishersville (Virginia) who was an expert at welding odd scraps of metal to its underside, so he could usually get the car to pass. As for my Dodge Dart, its inspection difficulties usually had something to do with the exhaust system, which was rotten from the manifold gasket all the way back to the tailpipe. These days I'm driving a very reliable 1988 Toyota pickup, but even so, inspections are likely to make all sorts of unpleasant discoveries. Today I felt my stomach knotting up as I took it to its yearly inspection at the Meineke muffler place on Ulster Avenue. After the multi-hundred-dollar brake job they stuck me with last year, I should have taken it somewhere else, but Gretchen set the whole thing up. Without her pulling the logistical strings, I tend to forget about vehicular paperwork until a cop pulls me over.
I dropped my pickup off at Meineke and headed off on foot.
When I came back, the scruffy-looking mechanic who had attempted to do my inspection claimed he'd been pulled over while taking my truck on a test drive. He said that my registration wasn't current and that my inspection sticker had also lapsed. He said all this was such conviction that I actually believed him. But later when I got home Gretchen and I looked at the calendar and figured out that my registration was still valid for two more days. As for my inspection, that was less clear. The hole punch that was supposed to indicate the month was straddling the border between September and October. Had the scruffy mechanic lost track of time? Gretchen called and bitched at Meineke about it, and the guy on the other end of the phone said something about how I should have "taken responsibility for my vehicle." That sounded like a suspiciously right-wing thing to say. I wonder if perhaps the "
Mission Nothing Accomplished, Vote Bush Out" bumpersticker on my truck had anything to do with my problems.
I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to go back to the morons at Meineke, but I'd have to make an appointment to go anywhere else. Gretchen found all my whining and self-pitying irritating, but in the end she set me up with another inspection appointment scheduled for tomorrow.
My pre-debate thought tonight was as follows: what drugs will Bush's handlers have him take to make him seem cool and collected? In the end, it seemed he didn't take any (or many) drugs, because he wasn't cool and collected, at least not for the first half of the debate. To me he seemed like a hostile little dictator, the kind of beast that democracy was designed to protect us against. Kerry, by contrast, came off as much calmer and more presidential. I don't think, however, that Kerry was quite on his game. He botched his response to the question about abortion, seeming exactly the way he's striving not to seem: wishy washy. The man needs to learn a thing or two about being decisive. It's a fairly simple matter to frame the abortion debate as being about the rights of women to control their own bodies, a point he didn't adequately stress. As for partial birth abortion, it's a wedge issue that he needn't dignify with an opinion.
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