My Adventures In The Rental Car / 4 October 1998

My Honda Accord, while a total chick magnet (literally, I mean; I know this guy down the street who fixes up cars in his garage [his name’s Li’l Horner, and I’m telling you this because he plays a small role later on in this story] and he took me aside one day and showed me this little gadget he’d assembled from the innards of a CB radio and some weird transmitters he’d picked up at Radio Shack and modified, and when you install this thing to your car, like connected to both the engine and the stereo somehow, it will send out these subsonic signals that are designed to catch the attention of any female species, whether or not they actually want their attention caught - this is not to say that they are sexually aroused, because the sound causes powerful headaches and a disruption of the menstrual cycle, but at least it catches their eye, and that’s all I need, baby, that’s all I need), has had some mechanical and structural problems in the abusive time it has spent with me, and two weeks ago it finally got fed up with its treatment and refused to work altogether. I apologized, said it wouldn’t happen again, please come back to me, honey, you’re the only one, it’s not your fault, it’s not you it’s me, etc., but nothing worked. I lay down a prayer mat and supplicated myself for three hours solid but still no go.

So I figured: Screw it. Who needs a car? I take the train to work, everything I need is in walking distance, I can start getting my calf muscles pumped again, maybe get back out on the bodybuilding circuit. Who knows? Maybe this whole thing was for the best. But then the next day I realized that I can’t walk more than three blocks without falling to my knees and crying for help but help doesn’t come because no one can hear me through my quiet wheezing, and also that I was running out of both food and toilet paper (although the latter was really not essential without the former). Since Li’l Horner said it would be a week or two before my car got out of his “shop,” I decided to rent a car for a weekend, thereby allowing me to run some errands and just get out in the world and be seen, you know. Click with the peeps.

I decided to go with Alamo because I thought it’d be an easy enough name to remember when I got to the airport and was confronted with the innumerable rental agencies because, you know, “Remember the Alamo!” and all, but when I was finally asked by one of the innumerable shuttle drivers where I was heading, I of course said “Amway” which caused much confusion and hilarity.

Anyway, I ended up with a blindingly bright red Ford Escort that contained a powerful scent reminiscent of a Motel 6. I wondered how powerful it was and soon enough had an opportunity to test it out. As I was pulling out of the lot and up to the stoplight, I heard a menacing revving next to me. Glancing over with pure, violent nonchalance, I saw another just-rented car, this one a white Toyota Camry. The driver had both mirrored sunglasses and driving gloves on, and was smirking at me, like: “Why don’t you go home to your momma and play with dolls all afternoon and maybe pretend to make tea for them and have a little tea party and wear a dress like the little girl that you are?” I certainly wasn’t going to sit by idly and let him send out those types of implied sexist remarks, so I threw the Escort in neutral and started gunning its engine, too. The noise was guttural, hellish.

The light turned green and we both tore through the intersection but I’ll be damned if that Toyota didn’t pull away from me like I was sitting still. What was in that thing? Luckily there was another stoplight up ahead which would give me some time to catch up, but I already knew there was no way I could win a flat-out race; I simply didn’t have the power. So, taking a cue from the fine film called Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, I decided to just end the race right then and there. I stepped on the gas and got it up to 75 or 80 mph, then popped the door for the gas tank. As the Escort zipped towards the Camry, I heaved myself out of the driver’s side window, crawled across the top of the car, unscrewed the gas cap, then flipped the whole car onto its side, jumping clear as I did. I landed — hard — on the pavement, but the Escort was skidding right towards the Camry, leaving a beautiful trail of spilled gasoline. Unfortunately I didn’t have a lighter or matches or anything so the car just screeched harmlessly onto the sidewalk, while the guy in the Camry took off, flipping me the bird. I ran away because I was still in clear view of the dudes at Alamo. But I got insurance and everything so I figured it was OK.

Joshua Green Allen

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