Car Fever: Worse Than the Flu

Encarphalitis.  This disease, more common among men, is known colloquially as “car fever.”  There’s no known cure for either of the two major strains—newitis and useditis–except to spend a ton of money. Both variations of encarphalitis are dangerous, but the symptoms of useditis are particularly virulent.

Since Bruce Bleat is all about truth and transparency, I will admit to being a non-infectious carrier of useditis.  I probably have newitis, too, but I don’t have a high enough credit score to inflame the virus.

A re-occurrence of the disease is imminent when I find myself staring at a particular brand/model of car.  The early symptoms resemble what afflicts an eighth grade boy asked to judge a cheerleader camp (the technical term for that malady is lotsa-infatuation).  When I see the car, a dampness moistens the brow, the heart pounds, and I am drawn trance-like to and car lots.  In time the dream vehicle is identified and the symptoms of diminished eyesight and confused thinking appear.

On the hazy frontier of my consciousness, a man with large, yellowed teeth enters my space.  This would be a good time to run, but my feet have grown roots.  I am now a prisoner of war.  The used car salesman speaks:

“Greetings, my friend!  My name is Bob.  And to whom do I speaketh on this fine day?”  (Why do they always seem to talk in a King James dialect?)

I’m smitten but trying to act disinterested, so to keep him off balance I only give him my name and social security number. ( Okay, that was a mistake, but I know he’s going to need both eventually to secure financing.)

“So I see you looking at this beautiful 1977 Pinto,” says Bob.  “What a sweet set of wheels, eh?  Just came on the lot this morning.  What’s your time frame on buying a car?”

“Oh, I don’t know.  Just out looking, today.”  (Does he notice that I just wiped sweat off my forehead with a beach towel?) 

“If you’re interested, I can grab the keys and we could take this little beast for a test drive?”

“Well, maybe.  Do you know how many miles it has?”

Not so sure, but I’m guessing around 300,000–but all driven on smooth pavement on sunny days by a retired mechanic–treated this car like his only child!”  (Salesmen don’t use that “little old lady” bit anymore—so lame!  I mean, who could possibly believe that line anyway?)

Bob gets the keys and ushers me behind the wheel.  We drive the city streets, and then I wind the little metal love-child up on the Interstate.  (This car is everything I’ve ever dreamed of, but I have to not let Bob know that I’m interested.) 

Back at the lot, Bob extracts the keys from my clenched fingers, and with that amazing denture-powered smile asks, “So Bruce, can we do a deal on the Pinto today?”

“Well, I don’t know.  Could I take a look at the engine?”  This is a telltale sign of useditis—wanting to see the motor.  Inexplicably, Bob opens the trunk first, and I stand staring into the cavity.  My mind is mush.  I forget where I am.  All I can think is…I want her.  “Is this a four cylinder or six cylinder?” I ask.

Toothy-smile Bob chuckles and says:  “Well, Bruce Buddy, let’s go up to the front of the car and see what’s under the hood!”

I’m toast—with butter and jam.

Turns out it’s a four cylinder.  I point and count, “One, two, three, four.”  I sound like Lawrence Welk striking up the band.

The next thing I know I’m sitting in a Bob’s small office, sipping a delicious and free Folgers latte from a small Styrofoam cup.  I notice that Bob has a large King James Bible on his desk.  (I love this guy—he’s obviously a Christian.)

“So Bruce, what’s your budget—can I send you home in the little pony–HAH, HAH?”

(I’ve done my homework; these Pintos are selling for about $4k.  Max.)  “Well, maybe with my trade-in, I would like to stay at about $4000, Bob.”

Bob’s demeanor collapses.  A look resembling fear or terror rises like a storm on his face.  I have definitely disappointed him—Bob looks hurt, even offended.  “Bruce, that Pinto is in really good shape.  We have a price of $9500 on it.  I can go try to squeeze the boss, but I don’t think we can give more than $750 for your vehicle.  That leaves us pretty far apart, I’m afraid.”  He sighs, shakes his head, and taps the cover of the Bible.

I’m devastated.  All I can think about is the little old lady mechanic who loved that Pinto so much she only drove on sunny days.  I can’t let her down.  What am I to do?  [To be continued.]

 Next: “The Fever Breaks”