The End of the Road


That I’ve owned this Saturn for for thirteen years is a kind of miracle. I suppose it means I have achieved a modicum of stability.

But beneath this quasi-predictable veneer, I’m itching for a change. Driving the Angels Crest Hwy. just north of L.A.,


I often fantasize about pushing the Saturn over a cliff and watching it tumble into a deep ravine.

It’s not that I hate the car. I’m just tired of it and all that it represents (if necessary, replay video above and pay attention to the woman in the pink teddy bear sweater).

After thirteen years of driving this un-incredible hulk, I would sum up the experience like this:

Imagine boarding a space ship,

expecting to arrive at this planet:


but landing, instead, on this one:


At the point of purchase — in the absence of any “hard sell” — I had signed on for a completely manually-operated automobile comprising a stick shift, crank up windows, four individually locking doors (both inside and out), disc breaks (not power), and rack and pinion steering (not power).

I must have been focusing on the stereo’s woofer, tweeter and decibel range — and the car’s affordable sticker price — to have overlooked the steering wheel deficiency. In retrospect, sales-force intervention would have been much appreciated.

A few short weeks after buying it, the Saturn dealership began sending me invitations in the mail, treacly enticements requesting me to join other members of their so-called Saturn “family” for periodic barbecues staged in different parks around L.A.

Barbecues with people I didn’t even know, who were looking to be adopted, possible home-invasion specialists or serial killers:

Meet my new adopted brother.

Meet my new brother.

It was creepy.

Have I neglected to mention that the Saturn shifts like a Mack truck and that parallel-parking it in L.A. — with the infinite clutching and shifting and muscular torques of the wheel — always leaves me at the brink of exhaustion?

If it’s up to me, when the Saturn and I eventually part ways…

my new mode of transportation will be the PUBLIC kind!

I cannot believe that I’ve owned so many cars. But it’s been a fun ride. Thanks for joining me!

What I was reading: (a lot over thirteen years, but here are the books I remember enjoying muchly): Snow in August (Hamill), Underboss (Maas), Wobegon Boy (Keillor), A Walk in the Woods (Bryson), White Oleandar (Fitch), Bella Tuscany (Mayes), ‘Tis (McCourt), The Art of Happiness (the Dalai Lama), The Bluest Eye (Morrison), Shopgirl (Martin), On Writing (King), The Fight Club (Palahniuk), Seabiscuit (Hillenbrand), Nickel and Dimed (Ehrenreich), A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again (Foster Wallace), Consider the Lobster (Foster Wallace), What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (Carver), White Noise (Delillo), Would You Please Be Quiet, Please? (Carver), The Botany of Desire (Pollan), The Corrections (Franzen), Life of Pi (Martel), The No. 1 Lady’s Detective Agency (McCall Smith), I Am Charlotte Simmons (Wolfe), House of Sand and Fog (Dubus III), Dry (Burroughs), Running With Scissors (Burroughs), I Feel Bad About My Neck (Ephron), Disgrace (Coetze), Up in the Old Hotel (Mitchell), The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (Bittner), While I Was Gone (Miller), How To Be Alone (Franzen), Learning to Drive (Pollitt), The Brooklyn Follies (Auster), Oracle Night (Auster), The Year of Magical Thinking (Didion), The Secret Knowledge of Water (Childs), Tete-A-Tete (Rowley), Come Up and See Me Sometime (Krouse), Birds of America (Moore), Darling? (Schmidt), CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (Saunders), The Wife (Wolitzer), The Days of Awe (Nissenson), Going Back to Bisbee (Shelton), The Lay of the Land (Ford), A Whistling Woman (Byatt), Our Story Begins (Wolff), The Orchid Thief (Orlean), My Kind of Place (Orlean), For the Relief of Unbearable Urges (Englander), The Discomfort Zone (Franzen), The Beatles: The Biography (Spitz), Los Angeles: People, Places, and the Castle on the Hill (Holmes) — this last book contains one of my favorite “first lines” (for fairly obvious reasons): “The problem with Los Angeles is that it’s not in New York.”

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