March 17, 2000



It's Always Something


I feel like Rosanne Rosannadana. If it's not one thing, it's another. If it's not toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe, it's a little ball of spit stuck in the corner of your mouth that everybody keeps looking at while you're talking only you don't know it's there and you think they're looking at your mouth because you're sexy.

Or something like that. I don't remember the riff exactly; it's from Saturday Night Live circa when-they-were-funny with Gilda Radner and Bill Murray and the rest of them, so it's been awhile since I've seen it. But it really is always something. Trust me.

Like my truck, for example. I was out with my brothers last night, doing triple duty as actor/production stills photographer/griptrician on the movie they're making, and we needed more light for the last scene we were shooting up this hill in a field overlooking the city. I volunteered my truck and 4x4ed my way up to the set. Lit the scene with my headlights, shot the scene, mocked myself for being happy I got to use the 4-wheel-drive, then bounced back down to the street and put it back in street mode. Only it wouldn't come out of 4WD.

My thoughts immediately went back to my last trip to The Booth, when I cooked the transmission by driving far and fast in 4WD because I suffered an attack of the stupids and forgot to disengage it. I had the transmission rebuilt after that, and this was the first time I'd used 4WD since the rebuild. This was obviously related to that. And since the rebuild had been so long ago, it was also obviously out of warranty. Color me not real thrilled with my mechanic.

Further color me screwed. I was in Silverlake, 20 miles by freeway from home, only I couldn't take the freeway while I was stuck in low because top speed in low is about 20 mph, which also happens to be "rear end me at 90 and splatter me all over the pavement" speed on our freeways. I was either going to have to pay $100 to have it flatbedded home, or drive it there myself. Veeerrryyy slowly.

It took me an hour and a half. 20 mph all the way, Stevie Ray blasting on the CD player, warning blinkers flashing, arm out the window to wave the idiots around when they still hadn't figured it out themselves after tailgating me for four blocks at a crawl. Morons. But the worst of it was the Call of Nature that kicked in about 20 minutes into my journey.

I can say this with some authority because I lived it last night: there are no public restrooms to be found in Los Angeles at 1:30 a.m. All fast food places are closed, all regular restaurants are closed, everything's closed. Beth pointed out to me that gas stations probably had bathrooms I could use; I had to remind her that this was Hollywood we were talking about. At 1:30 a.m., no less. Um... no. I won't go in those bathrooms at high noon, let alone in the middle of the night. I'd sooner shit my pants -- and damn near did. But wait: TMI. Too Much Information. Okay, nevermind. Let's just say I made it and leave it at that.

Anyway, this morning I tried everything you're supposed to try to unbind a stuck 4WD -- rock it forward and back, jack up the front end to get the weight off the wheels, reach up from the bottom with a screwdriver and try to jimmy it free. Nothing worked. Lovely. I prepared myself mentally for a high triple digit repair bill and limped it over to the mechanic's -- but not that mechanic, not the one whose last two repairs went south. This time I took it to where I should have taken it in the first place, to a local shop that specializes in restoring Land Cruisers.

They were stumped at first and tried everything I'd tried, then they put it up on the rack and figured it out. In a nutshell, the guy who'd done the rebuild had left out a key washer, so that when I put it in 4WD part of the shifter slipped about a quarter inch down into the transmission case so that it couldn't disengage. They pulled the shaft back up, put the washer where it should have been, and put me back on the road -- at no charge. Those guys just earned my business for life. No one else will ever touch my baby again.

Beth says I dodged a bullet. I think she's right. Steve, I think, probably wants to kill me by now -- I e-mailed him last night what was going on and he probably wrote our trip to NY off as kaput. Then this afternoon I e-mailed him again saying I was leaning toward going after all.

Now, of course, he's slandering me. "Thrifty with a capital if" my eye. Like that kind of talk is going to make me want to go away with him even more. Steve has much to learn about the fairer sex. Or at least about me. Harrumph.

All slander aside, I am leaning more toward the trip again, especially after having dodged this bullet. But Steve had better be extra nice to me or... Something.

I'm voting for The Booth!  Aren't you?

Have you voted for The Booth yet?