Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sure Sign of Spring (An Easter Remembrance of Sorts)

My #%*!$%#!* "check engine" light is on again.

(I bet from the title you were expecting something more meaningful and perhaps even spiritual. My apologies.)

This is after last spring AND summer and the endless trips taken, and over $2,000 paid, to my friendly neighborhood Volkswagen specialists. I LOVE Volkswagens. I really do. In spite of their sorry-assed cup holders. But this one is starting to try my patience. Yes, 2007 was the year that "Farfegneugen" became a curse word in my house.

The Jetta I have now has not held up nearly as well as my old Volkswagen. May he rest in peace. His name was Jose Jetta. (That's pronounced Hose-A as in "Feliciano" not "And the Pussycats." I don't know how to get the accent thingy over the "e") I had him for half of college and a few years after.

Sure I love my current Jetta a lot more than I would have some other car. It is sleek and "sexy" and is shiny black and has a cool dashboard. Jose Jetta was boxy and dull grey with a tacky thin red racing stripe. But he had a certain charm to him that the current Jetta lacks. Jose Jetta was tough. He knew his job, he did it well, and he did it all with quirky European flair.

He got me back and forth between Nashville and central Ohio many times a year. He moved my mountains of crap to two dorm rooms, a rental house, and two apartments. He schlepped me and my friends into town and our groceries back up to campus again. He and I were an outstanding designated driving team when two of my best friends turned 21. He spent a summer off-roading when I was a camp counselor living in a tent in the woods AND was extremely patient that same summer when my boyfriend used him to learn how to drive a stick-shift. He handled much Ohio snow and winter slop with grace. He didn't get stuck in the mud at Lollapalooza '94 OR a Dead show in '95. He gladly took me and a friend on a road trip to Canada one Saturday just because we felt like it.

And what do I ask from my current Jetta? Take me back and forth to work (a whopping 11 miles round trip). Around town on your basic adult life-related errands and outings. Occasionally haul things back from Lowe's that would, I agree, be better suited for a pick-up truck. And every once in a while take me to another city a couple of hours away for the weekend. Ever to another country? Not hardly.

The real irony in all of this is that I take better care of this Jetta. (Mechanically, that is. There is a nice layer of dog hair in the back seat and several Diet Coke stains on the console. I could argue that a decent frickin cup holder could have avoided that last one, but whatever.) This Jetta gets the oil changed regularly, brand NEW tires from a REAL tire store, and often gets taken to a full service gas station to have the fluids and air pressure checked. Jose Jetta had his maintenance needs weighed against beer money.

Had I not been unbelievably stupid and rear-ended that minivan in 1996 and even more unbelievably stupid in trusting my insurance company when they said Jose Jetta was totalled, who knows where we'd be now.

There's a guy at church who loves German cars and owns several. Most of them fancy. But my favorite of his is a VW Rabbit older than Jose Jetta would be today. It's dull white with dorky brown tweed interior and a rattly-sounding engine. When I see it my heart melts a little. And I don't know for sure, but when you turn the key I bet it also plays the little tune that sounds like the first few notes of "La Cucaracha" and is how Jose Jetta got his name.

So here's the deal, current Jetta. We need to have a little Come to Jesus meeting. These days of trying to recapture my youth are over. I need to be realistic. I'll take you next week to see your friend Frank at Auto Haus. But you better think long and hard about what you need fixed and how badly you need it. Because if I have to this summer, I'll take the bus. At least IT has air conditioning. And while you sit in the driveway I'll take that time to save for your eventual replacement. I've already looked into what it would be.

A Honda Fit.

That's right. You heard correctly.


You are officially on notice.

And I'm not farfegneugen around this time.


Katie said...

Funny girl. You can come on vacay with me any ol time. That sounds like a FABULOUS idea, actually. More on that later.

I think it is because you haven't named Current Jetta. I saw a huge turn in the relationship with the minivan (BTW, you hit a sister MINIVAN with Jose? How dare you! Did it break the tv with the video playing for the danged children, I mean the little blessings?) when I started naming it. Unfortunately, my adult-onset ADHD keeps me from (six years later) actually STICKING to a name, but it is generally Alice or Nancy or some other Donna Reed derivative. Anyhow, Louise likes me much better when I am calling her by name. Helen. Whatever. Also, I pat the dashboard. We had a small prayer vigil before pulling into the emissions testing last week. I am just sayin'. These things help.

Katie said...

I also want it noted for all of your brainiac friends that read this and realize that I constantly misuse/misspell words that there is a BASEBALL game going on behind me, as well as a Wiggles band rehearsal, oh, and now a fistfight!!! So, let's all just be impressed I use punctuation.

Melissa said...

Oh yeah, I had a Honda. Loved it. Got another one. Loved it too. Married a guy with a Honda. Love him.
Tell me more about your Sustainability Suppers. I'm intrigued!

gertrude said...

Impressive concentration Katie! I'm in an office completely alone in dead silence and I can barely put a complete sentence together...

You suggestion is a good one. I did name him "Jose Dos" but it never really fit. He was too much of a “cool kid” instead of fellow band geek like Jose Jetta. It’s like I’m in a John Hughes film, but with cars.

And, just so you rest easier. There was only one guy in the minivan and all I did was knock his rear bumper loose - which he snapped back on at the scene - but Jose Jetta ended up with a cracked grill and radiator. Story of my life...

gertrude said...

Melissa: I wasn't sure where to post a response about the Sustainability Suppers, but I'll post a bit here and if you'd like more info, feel free to email me at and I'll give you all the gory details :)

Basically the committee came up with several topics that we want to discuss and get the congregation interested in. Each month has a coordinator that is responsible for putting info in the newsletter and bulletins, organizing the speaker, program and food.

For dinner we TRY to make simple vegetarian meals with as much local, organic food as possible. And we try to make sure that we come away with a list of "action items" that we can try to implement at church and at home.

We're a small-medium congregation (300ish members, I think) and we've have about 20 people come to each. The first one was about the film Kilowatt Ours ( and the second about food. We took March off for Lent/Easter and I'm not sure what's planned for April yet.

Claudia said...

It's Fahrvergnuegen :)