My folks don’t believe in buying new cars. Rather, they’re dead-set against it, and it’s been like that since I’ve been alive. Seemed okay to me—after Dad informed me the screw-job percentage/amount by which a new car depreciates the minute you drive it off the lot, good used cars seemed to make dollar sense. Though we never seemed to get the good ones.
“Damn car’s a lemon!” “That last owner screwed us!” I heard stuff like this a lot.
As an adult, though, I learned the real reason my parents count on used cars: they need to be able to blame the trashing of said car on someone or something else. That’s also to say I learned an evil secret in my family: Dad is able to reduce anything from “like new” to “like shit” in about three months. He can make the beige cloth sag off the inside roof of any car just by glaring at it. If this is a genetic trait, it luckily bypassed me, but it strong in my younger sister.
It’s not just the way we break things…it’s the ways we’ll deny that “broken” is what they are. People in my family seem to think that when products start to malfunction (which, again, is within three months), they’re just developing a little colicky personality and that they should be repaired, held together and operated using Fonzie-like tricks where you hit them with your elbow. (“Aaaaay!”ing optional.) I’m just afraid their disposal will break, and Dad will come up with a trick that requires him to stick his hand down in it, spin the blade, then pull his hand out “before that thing really gets going.”
Anyway I’ve compiled my notes after spending the last week with my folks in Memphis, and I’m ready to perform the annual update of the list of things in their house/cars being held together magic:
TV: It’s a two year old HD that displays all black colors as 1986 IBM computer screen green (see below)…until it warms up, which doesn’t actually ever happen. TVs don’t “warm up.”
TV: The only way to turn the volume down is to first turn it up, then turn it down real quick, as though there’s a pendulum device swinging inside the remote. This seems to rarely work, so the volume ends up on 83 and you just have to turn the TV off and go to bed for the night.
Telephone: Rings once and stops, making each parent think the other has answered my Grandmother’s phone call. (They’re dead-set on still having a landline—I asked. Also, it’s always my grandmother.)
Brights in Dad’s car: They sometimes just turn on, blinding oncoming drivers (he’s been pulled over for this, but somehow gets cops to sympathize with how crazy it would be to spend all that money to fix them)
Freezer door: The storage shelf falls off the inside of the door, dropping months-old frozen pea bricks on your foot when you open it.
Lamp: Every lamp in the whole house. You’d think they’re all motion activated. They’re not.
Side door doorknob: “You just have to jimmy it.”
iPad: Just gave my mother one for Christmas. I give it two weeks.