This is the story of my 1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass and its last ‘up-your cornhole!’
Fresh out of finishing school, I landed a job in Northern Ontario. Northern Ontario is the American equivalent of Fairbanks, Alaska or anywhere in Ohio. A hybrid of Quebecois, First Nations, Scandinavians and rampant alcoholism. But that’s for another day. It was a 250 mile trip from my current place of residence so I needed some wheels, man.
My Father, God bless him, who is great at obtaining automobiles for low prices, (gypsies) found me a steal of a deal. I was now the beaming owner of a silver Oldsmobile Cutlass. Before you get hard, this Olds was a Ciera -the old people kind of cutlass- and not the beautiful, two-door shit-kicker that we all know and love. Blasting Journey in my Cutlass just made me look like a fucking degenerate.
From August 2013 up until this previous asshole winter, I really had no problem with the car, other than the fact that it smelled of the elderly and that I kept finding dead wasps scattered about the backseat and glove box.
However, this particular winter in Northern Ontario was the winter from Hades. A really cold Hades.
The snow began to fall in November, and by my birthday on November 10th we had a foot, and it kept coming. By mid- December, the drifts on my lawn were as tall as my car. Speaking of the Cutlass, this is about the time it began to become a real dirty prick. The temperatures dropped before Christmas to around -30c at night, but because I am fairly dumb, I decided against plugging in my car.
One crisp winter’s morn, I awoke to a frozen piece of Grade ‘A’ Detroit shit.
Later that morning, I found myself asking the French Canadian with a toothpick in his mouth at the mechanics, which battery would fit my Cutlass. He responded with something unintelligible and pointed at a gumball machine. I said “thanks Lucien” and punched him in the throat so hard, the toothpick pierced the back of his uvula.
He died instantly.
The rest of December proved uneventful.
Around the beginning of January, my car stopped starting altogether. For a week it was about -25c or so, but warmed up, and so did my car. One glorious morning, it started again and I settled in for a long, arduous venture to Toronto – a 4-hour drive. As I was driving on one of our Province’s lovely thoroughfares and listening to some Electric Light Orchestra, the car decided that it was tired and needed to lie down. So it did so in the middle of rush hour traffic, stalling in the centre lane.
Don’t Bring Me Down, indeed.
Channelling my inner Father, I got out, popped the hood, hit the thingy with a thing, moved a lid for something and checked my dip-thing. Through some sheer act of God, the car started and I was able to get home in time for Jeopardy.
Mid to late January arrived in the Northern climes, ushering in temperatures not seen in years. -40c stuck around for a week, and guess what else stuck around…my 1992 Cutlass Ciera. The car was literally and figuratively frozen to the driveway. It is so fucking cold, that the air in your tires freezes, transforming your wheels into sad squares. It’s the greatest thing you’ll ever see. It feels like you’re riding on a horse; a horse whose windshield freezes over forcing you to stick your head out of the window.
The frigid weather finally relinquished its grip and my piece of Michigan after-birth came back to life, but now having a neat habit of just stopping for no reason. Like an impoverished toddler throwing a tantrum at Wal-mart, it would just sit in the middle of wherever it decided to stop and pick its nose. My Dad, concerned with this development researched possible problems and solutions. The Good people at the GM dealership told him the starter wires hang low near the front wheel wells, and that splashback from the slush is likely short-circuiting them.
So my Father, in all his wisdom and 400kms away, recommended that I duct tape the eroded parts of the wheel wells, and drive to Toronto. Duct tape. In, on and around my car.
It gets much better.
I get home and my dad has a can of foam sealant. He begins to spray the foam sealant on all the wheel wells. It also happened to be fairly blustery that day. The sealant sprayed everywhere. It was like spraying diarrhea into the wind. It got on everything, the hood, the fender, the windows; there’s yellow shit stuck to every imaginable area of my car. It looks like the car is leaking cottage cheese out of the wheel wells. It looks like my car snuck into a Chinese buffet and loaded up its pants with chicken balls and rice and custard.
Then a Chinese waitress chased it away with a broom.
So last Wednesday, I’m on my way downtown to attend to some family business, and in almost the exact same spot, the Cutlass reached into its bag of unfunny tricks one last time and died in the middle of rush hour traffic. Again.
This time I didn’t even pop the hood. I put on the hazards and called for a tow. A nice policeman came by and advised that ‘for my safety, I should probably move my car’ . We pushed it on to a sidewalk and I waited for the tow. As I sat in my freezing car waiting, a large group of school children no older than 10, noticed my car. Here are some of the better quotes that I was fortunate to overhear.
“He’s stupid, he’s only halfway on the road”
“Why is this donkey parked on the sidewalk?”
“Because he’s too cool…look he has a cell phone, see”
“I bet he’s drunk”
“He’s probably dumb and forgot how to get home”.
“Are those dead wasps?”
If anything, this was a piece of remembrance and recognition. However, don’t think for a second that this anecdotal submission was not assembled without the gracious assistance of blinding rage and crippling anger. We had our moments, like any old couple. My car was Andy Capp, and I was his wife of whom he mercilessly abused. The Cutlass was a beast. I drove in COUNTLESS snowstorms, and not the Norman Rockwell Christmas card hooey that BIG GREETING CARD sells you.
Northern Ontario snowsqualls where the only thing you can see, is the blood and capillaries in your eyes popping as you struggle to make out road from death. Never once did I end up in the rhubarb or on the front of an 18-wheeler bound for Winnipeg. It always got me where I was going.
But it’s like it sensed it. It knew that I had a shiny, new GMC with a steering wheel cover waiting in the wings. It knew that on this particular day it was its last. But instead of being cordial and professional about the whole thing, it decided to bend me over one last time.
Rust In Peace Cutlass, you salty fuckface.