The Crustacean

I’ve had several cars in my 24 years of driving; some brand new and some.. well… let me just tell you about the “Crustacean.”

Not the exact car, but exactly like it.

Not the exact car, but exactly like it.

My mom and her man owned a white, second edition 1980 Chrysler Cordoba. They drove the hell outta that car from the time I was in early middle school until they gave it to me several year later.  When they first bought it, it was pretty nice.  It had fresh white paint and deep maroon interior. The seats where plump and velvety. The dashboard smooth..  Not when they gave it to me though.

Most kids whose parents give them a car get a safe, small car that’s good on gas. Not me. I got a freaking Sherman tank that looked like it had survived WWII.  The gas..wow…just starting that bitch up would cost me no less than $10.00.  Oh an let me tell you about how nice it WASN’T when they gave it to me.

For starters, the nice white paint was anything but.  The paint was faded.  Yeah, I didn’t know white paint could fade either but trust me, it does.  It almost looked like old cream- the color of your great grandmothers wedding dress from 1901.  On the passenger side front fender was a bumpy nonwhite scar; the reminder of a recent battle with road cancer.  Apparently my moms man tried to fix the rust eaten metal with a container of Bondo and primer but instead of sanding the putty to a smooth surface, he let it dry as it was then sprayed it later.  The side of my car looked like a spackled ceiling. smh.   My aunt Maria laughed at my car and said it looked like a crustacean from away out in the deep sea…and that’s how it got its name.

The inside of my car was anything but a jewel.  Those once plump, velvety maroon seats were now splitting down the seams and their innards were crumbling out; dark yellow and dried foam spilled from from the tears. Intense heat from the sun beating down on the windshield left open wounds in the dust encrusted dashboard; a sign of many years of neglect.  The only thing I could do was try to fix these problems.

The first thing I did was take the Crustacean to the car wash.  I know I had to have fed that vacuum $20 in quarters.  One mistake I made was in my vacuuming frenzy…I vacuumed the headliner. Yep. I did. I didn’t think about the glue giving out- I was just a kid trying to clean the dust and crap out of my ‘new’ car. So now my headliner hung way low– so low it touched the top of my head when I sat down inside.    After the vacuuming I drove over to Walmart for some Armor-All, duck tape, an air freshener and a package of thumb tacks.   Once home I dusted off, bandaged up the wounds then used that entire bottle of Armor-All on the dashboard.  When I was done it shown as bright as Sirius on a clear night .  I used the tacks for the headliner.  There were so many tacks holding the headliner up that you could probably find most of the constellations hidden within.    I used an old blanket to cover the backseat.  HAHAHA That backseat was the same size, if not bigger than my couch!   The car was ginormous!!!   It could seat 12 comfortably. The steering wheel itself was as big as one of the tires, but super skinny. The car didn’t have four windows, it had to very long ones that went from the front to the back and when I drove it, I had to sit on pillows because I couldn’t even see over the dashboard!!

 I was scared to death to drive the Crustacean, and here’s why;  As big as it was it thought it was small and if you barely turned the steering wheel the car would whip about.  I know where they got the phrase, “turn on a dime.”  It was a bucket!!  I’m pretty sure that the belts were loose, the hoses were dry-rotted and the oil was as thick as toothpaste too and I KNOW the breaks were shot because one time as I drove down a hill towards a busy intersection, the breaks wouldn’t stop the tank from rolling.  I knew that all I could do was stay calm and steer it until it stopped on its own. Nothing could hurt me while inside the crustacean, as it was made of something heavy and strong, not stamped out of aluminum like today’s cars are.  With the windows down, the tacks were flying from the headliner, shooting me as I coasted towards the intersection. Luckily I got the green light, went up a hill and coasted into the Shell on the other side of the road from where I’d come.  Good grief.  I sat at the Shell station for a few minutes to gather my thoughts.  I didn’t know what to do.  I couldn’t call anyone for help because 1) I didn’t want to be a wussy girl driver and 2) I didn’t have anyone to call. So I did the only thing I knew how to do.. I started the car and creeped it back home.  Luckily I made it without harm to myself or anyone else.  After that day though, I never drove the crustacean again.  I don’t even know what happened to it.  Last time I saw it, it was parked outside my house.

I wonder where cars go when they run away from home?

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