This is the story of the worst car ever – or the best car ever – depending on how you look at it. I was a college freshman when I bought “Audrey” a burgundy 1995 Honda Accord. She was the basic model, not a bit of automation on her, from the five speed transmission to the crank operated windows.
She was the first car I had bought with my own loan, in my own name, with the few dollars I scrounged together working three part-time jobs in between attending classes.
She was beautiful.
I drove her to school and work, quickly surpassing 100,000 miles without a single engine problem. But Audrey would soon become a victim of the worst driver I know: me.
Audrey’s first battle scar came when I slid on a patch of ice right into a concrete pole in front of a gas pump, ripping the plastic black trim right off the side of the driver’s door. The trim bowed outward like a broken wing. I raced to see Adam in the hope that he could fix it.
I quickly learned that “fix” is a relative term that should be more clearly defined when talking about cosmetic damage.
Adam got a bolt cutter (or possibly a hedge clipper) and cut the trim off at the spot where it separated from the door.
Trim sufficiently fixed, I continued driving the car without much excitement until my next accident. I rear-ended a man in a nearly new Acura. Having just purchased a brand new Acura bumper, I wasn’t in a financial position to purchase one for Audrey.
Having already proven himself a master of car repair, Adam stepped in to save the day once again. This time, he reattached my plastic bumper to another plastic body part using drywall screws.
A few weeks later, my car was broken into. The thief smashed my rear right window, entered my car, unlocked the left side door and driver door, exited the car, entered the car again via the driver’s seat and popped my trunk. Once in the trunk, s/he rifled through the purses of my companions and me, considerately leaving behind our IDs, credit cards and personal belongings. This was very considerate on the part of the thief. In fact, the only thing s/he took was our cash – cash which, in hindsight, would have been better spent parking in the lot with the security guard instead of across the street for free.
But, back to Audrey …
Not wanting me to suffer the embarrassment of a plastic trash bag covered window, my father set out to make the repair this time. he fashioned a double paned plexiglass window and sealed it in place using waterproof packing tape. It was the classier alternative to a trash bag, without being so snobbish as to be a genuine window.
Unassuming but proud, Audrey and I drove through life until one cold winter day, I was at a stoplight when I heard several rapid fire thuds as something hit my car. When I finally comprehended that the yellow ooze running down my front and back windshields was in fact egg yolk, the car full of assholes to my right was already speeding away. By the time I got home, the yolks were frozen to the surface of my car. Despite my best scraping attempts, the yolk remained in some spots until the spring thaw.
Before that could happen, however, I would receive the best Christmas gift since the sweet baby Jesus himself.
Santa brought me a new window for Audrey! Sitting under the tree with a big red bow was a junkyard treasure ready to be installed. I was giddy with excitement at the prospect of a real window.
My father was nearly as excited as I was. He and my mother beamed with pride at their own gift-giving triumph. He told me we could go install it right away.
We quickly got to work, gently peeling the packing tape, which had cured to the surface of my car and now had to be removed with the assistance of adhesive remover. The process of taking off the plexiglass window took at least an hour, maybe more. Finally, the window was gone. Next, we took to the task of taking apart the door, piece by piece, screw by screw. If you have ever attempted to take a car door apart, you know it is much like surgery. You have to make sure all the parts go back in the right place – and remember not to leave any gauze inside when you close ‘er up. By the time the painstaking process of demolition was complete, we had been at it for more than three hours.
Now, with the final bits of old broken glass removed, we were ready to witness our Christmas miracle!
My father ceremoniously lifted the window, slowly raising it to the opening in the door. I heard a drumroll in the background. Someone released a flock of white doves. A harp played heavenly tunes …
My father held the window up to the skeletal remains of the door. He looked at the door, back at the window. Looked at the door again, and back at the window. Then, with the most deflated sigh I have ever heard, my father stated simply, “It’s the wrong fucking window.”
This was the first time in my short life I had ever heard my father drop the f-bomb. Alas, the wrong fucking window, it was.
We spent the next hour reapplying the plexiglass – only one pane this time and leaving the inside of the door carcass exposed. When we finally went inside, my father poured himself his favorite holiday drink, Bailey’s on ice. Meanwhile, I attempted to soothe myself with my various other plunders, socks, sweaters and giftcards.
A few days later, my father exchanged the window for the proper one and we finished the job.
In the spring, once the last of the remaining egg yolk had thawed and been washed away from Audrey, my father got a new car and gave his to my mother. I decided it was time for Audrey and me to part ways. Astoundingly, the window under the Christmas tree was not the only miracle Audrey would bestow upon me. I sold her for $2,900, which was $500 more than what I had paid for her two years earlier!
Perhaps the new owner saw all of her physical flaws as “character.” Perhaps he recognized something I didn’t. Perhaps he was a moron. I’ll never know. All I know is that Audrey was the best worst car ever.