Twelve things NOT to put in a car…
Our vehicles are convenient carryalls for whatever we decide to put in trunks, glove compartments and passenger seat pouches.
Following are 12 things I’m sorry I ever put in my car:
1. A baby food jar filled with gasoline
My first car often failed to start on hot days. To get it started, I’d prop open the choke plate of the carburetor and throw a trickle of gasoline down its throat and it would start like a dream.
At age 18, I decided the best way to make sure I was never stranded was to fill a tiny jar with gasoline and keep it in the trunk.
No, it didn’t explode, but my father did when he saw my procedure in action.
2. Five rubber cockroaches
These were given to my son in a birthday party loot bag so long ago that he was sitting in a booster seat when he got them.
I never fail to be startled by them when I see them on the rear window ledge, my stomach flooding with a wash of hydrochloric acid. No matter how many times this happens, I only go so far as to remind myself to get him to take them away, then get startled by them again a few months down the line. Oh, hell, I’m sure they’re there now!
3. A cat I believed to be Molly
Answering an ad for a lost cat, I described the animal that had been living in the backyard for days to the distraught owner over the phone. A good Samaritan, I suffered numerous deep scratches while coercing the feline into my car for the trip back home.
“That’s not Molly,” the woman told me on arrival. “Molly has a black tail.” The trip back seemed twice as long.
4. The finest bouquet of wildflowers ever to grow along the roadside
Five hundred spider mites can’t be wrong.
5. A thick slice of durian
A spiky fruit with an aroma so foul it’s forbidden from public places in some Asian countries. Its interior has been described as a “rich custard.” And it most certainly is — rich in bouquets of garlic mixed with gasoline and carrion.
As British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace noted more than a century ago, “The more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop.”
I’d agree that consumption of the fruit is an acquired taste. Those wishing to acquire it should strap their durian to the roof of the car.
6. A 45-rpm record by Bruno Gerussi and the Medallions
Never played, this garage sale find was hopelessly transformed into an undulating coaster by direct mid-summer sun before I could get it home.
7. Twenty-four cans of Tab diet soft drinks
In the dark days before Coke Zero, Tab made a brief resurgence as a diet cola, not the frilly pink drink it eventually became.
I snagged a huge supply of the stuff and squirrelled it away in the trunk of my car. Subsequent sub-zero temperatures popped the tabs on every frozen can, squirting out syrup and leaving behind a grim remnant of copper-coloured water with a metallic aftertaste.
8. My own wedding cake
It would have been better to blame a bakery delivery driver for separating layers six and seven while negotiating a sharp turn.
9. A small sack of doggie waste
What do you do when nature calls your canine on the way to the car, which is parked a block from home? You decide to store the sack inside the rear bumper and then dispose of it when you get home.
I forgot it was there. Passengers didn’t.
10. A postcard featuring Ronald Reagan, sent to me by Gamba, the Supreme Devil God of the Universe
A group of us enjoyed the campy 1963 film The Devil’s Hand, about a group of murderous cultists. I laughed when I received a friend’s postcard from Washington, D.C. signed by the capricious Gamba, including his full title. I did not laugh when the card was discovered by U.S. Customs agents in the back seat of my car as I attempted to cross the border.
11. A large bag of Dutch stroopwaffels, hot off the griddle
See how nicely the package fits in the drink caddy next to the passenger seat. See how quickly they are reduced to a sack of syrup under the influence of the hot air vent.
12. Janice … who made me watch Love at First Bite a second time.