Tag Archives: car

She’s Killing Me #8


She’s killing me, I tell ya.

My Little Cake Boss Diva.

She is faithful… Faithfully late, that is.

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She reminds me of the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.  By virtue of his timepiece, the rabbit knows he is late and is frantic about it.

From http://clockworkbrothers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/alice_in_wonderland_1951_1.jpg

And my Little Cake Boss Diva Rabbit also has a clock; it is the world’s biggest clock and it is on the home screen of her iPhone.  You know.  She has to swipe through it to get to her precious texting screen.

But unlike the rabbit, she does not panic when she sees the world’s biggest clock for it apparently serves no useful purpose.    Perhaps she is blind.  For her, it is better to be three hours late than one minute early.

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Believe me.

It is a daily school nightmare ritual when she stays with me.  The school bell rings at 8:55 am.  Sometimes, she finally gets into the car at 8:54 am… still barefoot.  But by the time we get to the school, she is still barefoot because she has been messing around with her hair in the backseat while looking at herself on her iPhone…  You know, the one with the world’s biggest clock.

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Her precious dance classes are no different.  Let us take one example; mind you, she has EIGHT dance classes a week.

Her ritual is this.  Say her dance class starts at 6:30 pm.

Brooke at 6:15 pm from her bathroom (with a mirror that the vain and wicked stepmother in Snow White would be jealous of), “OK, I’m ready.”

I can still hear her hairbrush clanking against the sink along with the occasional hiss from her hair spray.  I don’t move from my couch.

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See? My Little Cake Boss Diva didn’t even look at the clock on her cell phone from when she was little. It took her an hour to get her hair bun just to look like that, too.  There is great truth in “the past is the best indicator of things to come”.

Me, at 6:25 pm: “Brooke, we need to go…”

Silence… but I can hear her rustling in her room.  Maybe she’s looking for her dance shoes.  She’s got four kinds of them, you know.

Me, at 6:29 pm: “Brooke, I’ll be waiting in the car, okaaay?”

Silence…

A minute later, out she comes…  Yes!  Oops.  She goes back in again.  Half a minute later, she emerges and runs to the car…barefoot.  But she drags along her bag that has Nordstrom’s entire shoe selection in it.  No kidding.  I guess she couldn’t decide which dance shoe to wear for this one class.

We get to her dance school in a couple of minutes but it’s 6:32 pm already.  I carefully drive into the cramped war zone called a parking lot; it is filled with crazed dance moms who stop their battle tank dead in the middle of the aisle instead of off to one side to let their daughters off.  One mother actually turns on her emergency blinkers.  Nobody can move until that mother moves.  But they don’t care… because their battle tank is equipped a 105mm cannon…front and rear.  Nobody dares asks them to move to one side.

Brooke?  She’s still putting hair pins into her “bun”.

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She is still putting in hair pins; class started five minutes ago. She is giving me the evil eye.

There are other late mothers lining up behind me, still trying to battle their way through the war zone littered with SUVs and minivans going every which way except forward.  I can see she still is not ready so I need to find a parking spot in this war zone.  Unfortunately, these mothers in their SUVs think they truly are in M1A1 Abrams battle tanks and take up two spots.  They do it on purpose, relegating us lowly men to one.  They believe they are entitled to two spots.  After all, this is California, land of entitlement.

After a minute or two, I step out of the car.  I can’t stand to watch.  She is still fussing with her hair bun.  (Remember: she said she was ready at 6:15?)

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She is still putting in the world’s supply of hair pins.

Oh-oh…  Here she comes.  It’s 6:40 pm.  Class started ten minutes ago.

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She has her shoes on. Unbelievable.

What’s this?!  She’s got her shoes on?  Golly-gee-willikers.  And she’s running like the rabbit?  Perhaps she has finally realized she is… late?

Nahhh….

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By the way…  I am always on time.  My oldest daughter is always on time, too.  She got that from me.

…But my Little Cake Boss Diva’s (non-)sense of time?  You can figure that one out.

Hamburgers and a ’63 Merc


MM burger
Marilyn Monroe eating an old-fashioned hamburger at a drive-in hamburger stand. Photo by Philippe Halsman.

Nearly all Americans would agree that hamburgers are the All-American icon.  A simple grilled ground beef patty, salted and peppered, slathered with mayo, mustard and ketchup then sandwiched in a plain bun.

At least that’s how I know them.  Oh, hold the pickles, please.

Now, us kids that grew up watching “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Jeannie” have given birth to a generation that has taken a simple thing and made them into $15 gourmet, fancied-up, mushroom-covered (expensive) cuisine.  Do you think I like Elizabeth Montgomery and Barbara Eden?  Drool…

But I don’t know if I like the “change”.

Back to this in a minute, folks.

The fancy hamburgers – not the drool.

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Dad had always owned Fords when he could finally afford getting a car.  I guess that’s where I get my Ford passion from.

July 5, 1955
Aunt Eiko holding me in front of my dad’s Ford Consul automobile. If you are reading my past stories about WWII, you will know that only the occupying Americans could afford to buy a car. Her husband was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.  Occupied Japan, Tokyo, July 5, 1955.
Enoshima Beach, Tokyo - April 1957
My dad’s ’57 Ford Fairlane parked on Enoshima Beach, Tokyo. I’m thinking it was a dark green. April 1957.

After leaving Japan for the last time  in the late ‘50’s after the Occupation ended, my pop bought his first new car stateside in 1963 – he was 44 years old.  It was a two door Cascade Blue 1963 Mercury Meteor custom hardtop; a king of obscurity to say the least, but to a kid of about ten, it was Flash Gordon’s rocket ship.  Unlike Hillary, it was easy to love this car.

1964 or 1965 / Dad's new 1963 Mercury Meteor
On a road trip to Chicago in 1964. I’m still holding onto my Fujipet camera with dad’s 1963 Mercury Meteor behind us. This may have been in Utah.

Don’t get me wrong.  It wouldn’t get a choice spot if valet parked.  I say wouldn’t as my old man couldn’t afford valet, let alone a family dinner out.  But to me, the rocket ship had a chrome finish AM push-button radio – turn the dial on the right, find a station, pull out a button, then push it back in to set it.  Trouble is I did it a dozen times each time I got into the car.  But all I cared about was KFI 640 AM, the Dodgers’ station.  The golden voice of Vin Scully… and Fairly, Gilliam, Wills and I forget who played third.  They were World Series champs that year.

Six adults could get into this rocket ship with room to spare – eight of us little Japanese folks and a dog.  The cargo hold in back swallowed up my Sears JC Higgins bike in one gulp with enough space leftover for Frank Howard.  (I saw him hit the scoreboard in right field with a home run.)

Unless my aging grey matter is dissolving at warp speed (maybe it is), there were ash trays with shiny covers in each armrest…and this was for the back seats.  It was a favorite depository for my Bazooka chewing gum but I kept the wax covered cartoon that came with it.

Pop kept it for quite some time.  I passed my driver’s license test in it on my 16th birthday.  I got a 96 only because she claimed I never looked in the rear view mirror.  Poppy cock.  I always look in the rear view mirror for cops.  Even back then.

And as it was the only car we had back then, I also drove my date to one of my senior proms in it (I went to two.).  And the answer is, “No,” if anyone was wondering…but I’m sure she was disappointed.  Well, maybe not.

The four-wheel drum brakes were spectacular…not.  Instead of rubber meets the road, it was like rubber met the world’s supply of Vaseline while fighting the pull to the left… and this was at 25 mph.  Steering?  An oil tanker’s captain would do well.  Turn the wheel a lot; see the slight change in direction a few seconds later.  Pat Brady and Nellybelle turned better – and that was out in the desert on sand.

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The Mercury Meteor’s 260 cid V-8.

I overhauled the epoch 164 hp 260 cid V8 sometime around 1976 in our garage.  At 13 years of age, she had become an old girl.  She had become a V6, meaning it had lost compression in two cylinders.  I remember setting zero lash, then three-quarters turn of the ratchet for the hydraulic lifters during the overhaul.  The distributor was the biggest headache, of all things.  It was like extracting an impacted molar and only after using copious amounts of Liquid Wrench in place of laughing gas did it finally come out.  “Older” Blue Oval guys know what I’m describing.

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Back to today’s elegant hamburgers and change.

Instead of the push-pull AM radio, my youngest son – who was seven when I bought it – similarly discovered my ’08 Mustang GT had a “My Color” dashboard light feature.  Now I know how my pop felt as my son forced me to experience every color of the rainbow while driving at night – every time.  It was like being at an all-night disco club.

Bazooka bubble gum and ashtrays are no more but treasure hunters will be pleased after exploring the map pockets.  No disappointments there.  I promise… especially after my little Cake Boss had sat in the back.  Latex gloves are highly recommended before exploring.

Overhaul it?  After all, my GT’s got a 281 V8, only twenty-one more cubes than my pop’s…but it pumps out a magnificent 505 hp thanks to her Roush supercharger and Carmen pulley.  Hell, I’m afraid to change spark plugs.  Who would imagine in 1963 there would be a TSB on just how to R&R spark plugs?

roush blower
My Roush supercharger and gizmos.

And unlike my pop’s ’63 Merc which ran on simple mechanical principles (but threw physics principles out the window for the so-called braking), the computing power in my Mustang would cause Einstein to strike a pose like Captain Morgan.

And today’s stunning braking power is the true reason for seat belts – it compassionately keeps your head from being continually used to redesign the windshield.  The aftermarket Wilwood six-piston disc brakes I installed with slotted and cross-drilled rotors exacerbates the stop-on-a-dime tendencies… which is a good thing.

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The Wilwood Six Piston disc brakes on my Mustang.

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So it appears the delicious, basic hamburger of the 1960’s has been brought into the 21st Century.  Kids that watched Elizabeth Montgomery and Barbara Eden fooled with the wonderfully simple ground beef and bread formula to give us today’s foodie gourmet burger…and we can still listen to Vinny’s golden voice, to boot.  Glorious.

And well, with 505 hp at the crank instead of 164 hp, it’s hard to complain.  Neither do my kids when they hear the whine of my Roush supercharger.  They like to scream.  But it’s a shame my pop’s ’63 Mercury Meteor won’t be swept into anyone’s museum.

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I guess technology has its benefits.

I’ll take a gourmet burger in the end after all.

Pass the Heinz ketchup, please.

At least that hasn’t changed.