This is Carmen.

Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t love you; I love my car.

A couple Sundays ago I put a few bags of laundry in the car and got ready to drive to the laundromat. Instead I drove to my parents’ house in Saint John, NB. “Hi mom! Hi, dad!”

I hung out and did laundry all evening. I got up the next day and drove back. It was a 1000km laundry round-trip and Carmen purred the whole way.

The other day my baby was in the garage getting a flat repaired. I’d taken her to Scotia Tire at the corner of Almon and Robie.

When I went to pick her up, the guy at the counter looked around for the keys and couldn’t find them. He said, “She must still be in the garage.”

He went inside the garage to have a look, and came out and said, “He’s bringing her out now for you.” So I stepped outside to the parking lot and leaned against a big pile of brand-new tires.

Through the big plexiglass windows on the service bay doors I could see Carmen. I could also see the mechanic’s back and part of his arm as he stood beside the garage door.

I wondered in passing if the garage-door-opening mechanism were all automatic and electronic, or if it were some kind of old-fashioned chain-pulling deal.

The mechanic seemed to be having a little trouble getting the door to open. A second mechanic came over and stood and watched him for a while. The second mechanic said something to the first mechanic. Finally the first mechanic stepped aside to let the second mechanic have a try.

The second mechanic didn’t seem to have much luck either.

Through the plexiglass windows of the garage door, I watched as a third mechanic came over join the other two. He coughed and said something and wiggled his finger. All three men looked upwards at the same time.

The second mechanic stepped out of sight and reappeared a moment later dragging something. Whatever it was, he climbed up onto it and continued to mess around with the garage door mechanism.

The third mechanic stood behind him and spoke with his right arm up in the air. He didn’t seem to be physically helping. He just stood behind the other mechanic with his arm raised.

There was a lurch. The garage door lifted two centimetres off the ground, then stopped.

The third mechanic lowered his arm. This time all three men looked down.

I saw the first mechanic reach down and fiddle with something. He was rewarded with the sound of a chain running free. The garage door opened about halfway before stopping again.

The first mechanic looked back at my car, then looked at the second mechanic. They shrugged. The garage door was open higher than the height of my car. The mechanics dispersed.

The first mechanic got into the car and started it up. He eased out into the parking lot and pulled Carmen up in front of me.

Rolled down the window. “Is this your car?” he said “We cleaned her up and put a new valve stem onto her.”

The mechanic got out of the car and I got in and that was that.

My baby’s road-ready. I’m all about the roadtrips these days. I’m planning a little trip to Bedford on Wednesday to check out Select Sounds and The Chickenburger.

Select Sounds has a great selection indeed but the last time I was there the proprietor was playing Beatles out-takes and it nearly drove me nuts. I am not a Beatles fan. In any case I don’t know why anyone would want to hear seven consecutive versions of “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

I noticed one thing that John Lennon did consistently on every performance. He would always give a little lift to the last line of that dreary song: “Strawberry fee-eelds for-ev-er.” With each take I found myself anticipating this line with a mixture of dread and relief.

The Chickenburger: believe the hype.

I’ll tell you what I’m looking for right now. I’m currently classed as a Newly Licensed Driver so according to some obtuse Nova Scotia law I am forbidden from driving alone between the hours of midnight and 5AM.

This law bugs me. You’d think I be less likely to cause any trouble in the middle of the night when there’s no traffic around. I’m way less comfortable driving around Halifax at say, 5 in the afternoon on a given weekday.

When I get off work at 2 or 3 in the morning–that’s exactly when I get the urge to go for a nice drive to listen to my tape deck and unwind. Instead I have to be content to buzz around the streets on my bicycle. Alas, my bicycle does not have a tape deck.

So: what I’m looking for is a late-night driving buddy. Someone I can meet up with at 3AM and take on a little trip to Peggy’s Cove or wherever. You don’t have to do much. You don’t even have to be awake. You just have to sit in the front seat and be an Experienced Driver in the eyes of the provincial Law.

If you’re a night owl who’d like to get out of the house, look me up and we’ll cruise around listening to The Clash and The Dead Kennedys and a bunch of fifteen-year-old mix tapes I found in my parents’ basement.

6 thoughts on “Carmen

  1. I always hesitate about naming things like cars, but, man, your car-name rocks!

    May none ever hit your windshield.


  2. your car has a tape deck! (jealous, mine’s stopped working & the car no longer works particularly well either) … to be a passenger would be a rare treat…

  3. I couldn’t guarantee being wide-eyed at 3 am, but I am a good passenger…and a good driver too. Plus, my tape deck just stopped working and driving has become a silent exercise.

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