The incredible melting car

I’ve never driven it. I never want to. It would be like pulling the curtain all the way to the side.

Here’s the deal. My significant other. My girlfriend. With whom I’m raising two children. Of the ages of nine and twelve. They ride around in a melting caramel of a car over hill and dale each and every day. There is no radio or air conditioning. There is no power steering.

It burns gas at a rate so alarming that the horror really manifests only when one understands the amount of oil it must be quenched with. The automobile in question is a 1991 Lexus 400 LS. LS stands for Luxury Sedan. Yeah. My woman owns and operates this car. Tanklike in countenance. It has been melting at some certain rate since before the internet came into it’s own. The mechanic made it clear there is no practical way to staunch it’s bleeding of life sustaining lubricants.

Some day it will bleed out.

It’s a large vehicle and she is petite. She appears as a muppet behind the wheel. Elbows above her head.

I cannot describe to you the contents of this vehicle accurately because on any given day it’s diversity is so volatile. Always textbooks and notebooks and backpacks, pens, pencils. Fast food cups and wrappers and sauce packets and burger boxes. Sundries like toilet paper or paper towels or canned beans, jello and yogurt, juice containers, water bottles in various stages of empty, tissues and napkins, cleats and socks.

A perpetually blinking instrument panel.

The passenger seat always a shin deep sea of detritus, it snaps and crackles when I position my feet.  The back seat always hip deep in an ever changing ocean of flotsam and jetsam.

Every surface coated with sticky or oily or objectionable. Best to put your hands in your lap. I always feel like I’m riding in a petri dish.

The wind blows all days of the year in the car because it’s always too hot to operate without the windows down regardless of season. Napkins and styrofoam regularly hoovered out the windows by the constant vacuum. Receipts and candy wrappers, dust and mites, homework pages, fortunes from cookies, and sometimes paper currency, floating and pirouetting at eye level.

The sun hits the windshield when driving east in the morning or west in the afternoon and every eyeball in the cabin goes opaque because of the decades long assault by road debris.

Most interesting thing is the smell. It never smells like you might imagine.  Not at all organic and rotting. In fact, it often smells good. Usually of lotions, hair products, perfumes and creams. Candles. Lip balm. Pastries even. It smells like girls. Girls smell good. At least the ones I’m fond of.

The entire mix becomes a maelstrom as the vehicle approaches 75-80 mph, a feat accomplished easily with a stomping of the accelerator. It’s engine remains robust as it roars and lurches us all back and forth with authority and aplomb. Still very fast. Still plenty of V8 power.

It rolls and rolls, on and on. Indestructible. One automobile, indefatigable, under God with liberty and justice for all.


What amazes me is they sing and they sleep. They do homework and they eat. On tablets, phones and kindles. They conduct all manner of the life cycle in that ocean of a backseat, in the melting maroon automobile. Hot as blazes. Sun beating in. Increasing the size and weight of the atmosphere tenfold. For hours every day.  As they drive. While the car itself melts. Parts literally fall away. It drops the occasional pancreas or gallbladder and keeps on. Last time we had the brakes done, we had it’s appendix removed.

It’s a magical beast. It’s magical because I can’t believe it. It never fails. The girls sway back and forth with hair close behind across the backseat as mom steers through adversity and considerably less adept drivers. She does so expertly despite barely being able to see over the wheel or dashboard. She’s adept. I never really worry about them or myself in that car. It feels safe. Always. It’s no longer the original color of maroon. It’s now a sort of sun beaten burnt magenta. A rust hue, sort of sienna. Caramel. Melting. Impossibly slowly.

Wanna race?

Drinks for my friends.

14 Responses to “The incredible melting car”

  • Jeffrey Wayne:

    You are waxing elequence about a car.Please use smaller words.

  • Gabby:

    Great read! So appropriate for a kids’ car. We call our van The Tomato Wagon, but oddly enough it smells like a potato. It hasn’t quite reached Petri dish status.

  • CH:

    hey there Mike Wade, welcome back. I’ve been waiting for you.
    This brought to mind the Staff Car- not at all the same sort of car, but hell you named it. Dracula Shifts Gears with his Buttcrack when he Drives.

    • Michael Douglass:

      Dracula brokers a deal with the plutocrats whereby instead of feasting on fetuses, he’ll be allowed to dine on newborns once they are deemed malnourished and only after their birth family is judged unqualified for food subsidies.

      • CH:

        Pro Life Dracula doesn’t like to make choices. Pro Choice Dracula likes to dumpster dive. I seem to remember a banana going over-ripe under the seat of my Dodge Colt- aka the Clot. Did you name that one too? Think it may have been CF or Sneb. That car got a little stinky now and then. Smelled like Dick Naugles.

  • Michael,
    I’ve driven you to have drinks with our friends in my 1991 Toyota pick up truck that goes over larger objects faster. Although not current in its registration with the state of Northern California , it still does run- mostly after dark and prefers railroad tracks and pasture “shortcuts”. Your post makes me smile! Feels and smells very much like my current, registered problem and children. Cheers!

    • Michael Douglass:

      Damn Jimhead. I miss you. I miss those days. I remember that truck. I remember when I moved from Korea Town to Hollywood. When I attempted to recruit you and Dr. Woods for the move, your answer was simple, “As long as I get to drive the fucking truck.” Be well my old friend.

  • LZ:

    Thanks for sharing Mike, this was fun. Visions of the melting car stayed with me all day. I could imagine a TV series devoted to the world within it. Or better, a book of short stories….all about the lives inside our 2nd moving homes. You could include a chapter about Calliope, my ’94 Toyota wagon that the car talk guys once referred to as a grandma car. This made me immediately go to the hardware store where I bought some enamel based paints and I adorned her with 3 and 4 leaf clovers up and down the sides. I needed her to be a lucky car and she hasn’t let me down. Her scent varies, not always good. I blame it on the farting, candy sucking 10year old philosopher who occupies the back seat. There are stories…

    • Michael Douglass:

      “….the farting, candy sucking 10year old philosopher who occupies the back seat. There are stories…” Wonderful. Thanks for reading. I miss you all. I wish for an xmas or any holiday when all of us can be together like my old xmas eve parties.

  • Peanutbutter:

    Very funny. It’s nice to have a tribute to our old faithful.

  • Michael Saraceno:

    Another good read friend!

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