We’ve always been a two-car couple. His ‘n hers vehicles just seemed natural. My wife would go to her job, I would go to my job. On the weekends, we could each run our own errands. If one of us had someone to visit or an event to attend, the other wouldn’t be left with the choice of tagging along or sitting at home.
This all came to a, shall we say “crashing” halt some months ago when my teenaged niece managed to wreck my vehicle. We’ve been down to one car for a while now, and it’s actually starting to feel normal. My poor wife definitely has the raw end of the deal, as she gets to ferry me through rush hour traffic back and forth to work in Sacramento every weekday.
Although we have found that we can get along just fine with one vehicle, I can’t help but look back fondly on the days when we lived in Fresno and owned two fully paid for cars. My wife purchased her car long before we were married and, through careful maintenance and mostly local driving, made it last for years and years. As for my car, well, I had the good fortune to obtain it at no charge, thanks to the generosity of my parents. For decades, they would buy a new car every four or five years and would give me their old vehicle rather than trading it in. For a long time, I was totally broke and this was the only thing that made it possible for me to have a car, and by extension (this being California), to have a job. So my wife and I rolled along in the marital bliss that comes with not having to factor a car payment into the monthly budget.
As for our two vehicles, they were as different as night and day. Women may be from Venus and men may be from Mars, but the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our cars.
My wife had a little economy car known as a Nissan; I had a big bomber called a Tishrei.
If I had my druthers, I’d pass over the opportunity to buy a Nissan. It’s a crumby vehicle, but what can you expect will all that matzo? One thing I can say is that it got good gas mileage. We hardly ever got gas at all. In fact, you could even say the thing was constipated. The owner’s manual (for some reason the cover says “Hagaddah Shel Pesach”) guaranteed it to be 100% hametz-free.
We only had to fill up the Nissan every eight days, but it was rather finicky. The engine wouldn’t run efficiently unless we used a high test called Malaga, and we’d have to throw in an additive, one part horseradish to two parts haroseth. As the Nissan aged, it developed a rattle in the chassis, which (thankfully) could be relieved by cracking open the driver’s side door for Elijah. Eventually, we began detecting an unsavory odor emanating from under the hood. I thought it smelled like eggs, but my wife seemed to think it smelled more like a burning shank bone. If we left a pan of salt water on the radiator, the odor would dissipate after a little while. We’d use any excuse to blow the Nissan’s horn, which sounded a funky little tune that sounded for all the world like mah nishtanah halaylah hazeh.
In the end, we were just counting the days of the Omer til we could get rid of the Nissan. If only we had some bread, man.
The Tishrei was another story entirely. Everything about this car was enormous: The cabin, the trunk, the gas tank. It was like you could fit Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot in there, and still have room for Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Every time we filled it up we’d spend at least 50 bucks.
When my parents first gave us the Tishrei, it was early in September. It was a cool color, kind of reddish brown, like apples and honey or something. We had to go to the Bay Area to pick it up, because they had left it at the airport when they flew to visit my sister in Texas for the High Holy Days. There they would buy their new car, a Heshvan, and drive it back to California.
With all the luggage room, this car was great for going on road trips. And we’d go on a lot of them in the Tishrei, mostly to synagogue. But the Tishrei was already a high mileage vehicle, and it didn’t take long before it started to develop a lot of problems. It was always something. One day it would be shaking like a lulav and the next day it would start emanating a sour lemon odor (it was actually citron, we learned later). And (I must confess), a lot of the problem could be attributed to the error of my ways. Every time I got in that Tishrei, something came over me. It was like I couldn’t help myself. Maybe it was that new year smell, but I felt the urge to drive fast. And, oh baby, that thing could move. I’d step on the gas and be halfway from Tzom Gedaliah to Chol Hamo’ed before I could say “Tashlich.” Yes, we had a lot of fun in the Tishrei, so it was hard not to forgive its sins.
And we loved to blow the Tishrei’s horn even more than the Nissan’s. The looks on people’s faces were priceless when they suddenly heard a blast of “Tekiyaaaahhhh!”
About Uncle Guacamole
Uncle Guacamole is a Borscht Belt comedian who still thinks it’s 1963. Although a transplant to northern California, he left his heart at Grossinger’s midnight buffet. His dream is to buy a kochaleyn in Loch Sheldrake, drive to Monticello to shop the outlets on Sundays and play the Concord for all eight nights of Passover. Please don’t tell him that the Catskill comedy scene went the way of vaudeville forty years ago. You might make him cry.
Uncle Guacamole can often be seen driving Highway 99, which he calls the Quickway, on the way to the abandoned site of Mammoth Orange, which for some inexplicable reason he refers to as “The Red Apple.” He is still searching for Wurtsboro Hill and wondering when the land became so flat. Although he is a big fan of schmaltzy jokes and bad puns, please refrain from throwing rotten tomatoes at him. (If you do, he’ll just break out the jalapeños and make salsa.) Throwing avocados, however, is perfectly okay, particularly if they are ripe. At nearly a dollar apiece, he can’t afford to buy them anymore and is going through guacamole withdrawals. These are marked by profuse sweating of garlic and lemon juice followed by fits of uncontrollable shaking known as the “Oy Veys.”