You Are Never Isadora Duncan in a Ford Focus
I want to write about the power window mechanism on the Ford Focus. You may say, "Didn't you already write about that? I could swear you did, just over a year ago. Four-digit figures were moaned and stuff. And you sat in the mechanic's waiting room for eight hours because the car was always going to be ready 'soon,' and it got to where all the books were read and tire pamphlets scrutinized, and finally you were forced to form an opinion about Rachael Ray's hairstyle."

You wouldn't be dreaming to remember this. You may also remember, or maybe that was on Twitter, that I said I was never going to roll down the windows again. In fact, Mike was expressly forbidden from rolling down his window to spit, although that's just a good policy that was long overdue in the signing.

(The spitting is my fault. The first time Mike came to America, in 2001, we both caught colds. Twice. I got better. He didn't. He has since maintained a perpetually raw throat with a nasty morning-and-then-some noise, plus all the unpleasantness that he assures me is even worse than having to listen to what sounds to me like someone is aiming to sub for Demi Moore in voiceover work. He has gone to doctors, specialists, taken on all kinds of meds... and in the end, he is apparently just Gummed Up and Disgusting-Sounding for Life, thanks to coming here. I.e., thanks to me. I am not only the worst wife, but the worst pre-wife. This is why I volunteered to put on the Chelsea vs. Manchester United game the other day, instead of quickly hitting the Page Up button before Mike could see it there. Like I do with The Golden Girls. Never mind, I am a monster.)

(But a monster who dutifully supports Chelsea.)

Sometimes I roll down my window, as it was just fixed last year and sometimes you have to live a little, or use the drive-thru lane at Starbucks, but we almost never roll down Mike's window. Which is paranoid nonsense, I know, except we're both A/C people so why does the window need to go down anyway? Why take a chance? You can't break a stupid little part for-the-price-of-a-short-cruise if you don't use it.

But... I took my self-deprecation too far this time. I actually believed the obligatory little voice that tells me that all of my unpopular little rules are just a crusty hairball of only-child sovereignity and OCD tics. I let that little voice talk out loud all the time, but that's just because I don't like to scare people. "Don't mind me, I'm just being knowingly silly! Isn't it fun?!" Deep down, though, I think I'm right. Know I'm right. Open to persuasion, but until then, utterly right.

Like, say we're having to move some things at school, and I don't like the provided packing tape. It smells funny, sticks to itself too easily and too permanently, and it just lacks a little heft I feel I need when packing heavy boxes of books. I have done a lot of packing in my life, and I was sired by a man who has rules for packing that make my rules for Things That Are Allowed on the Kitchen Counter seem positively logical. ("No wallets or keys - ever," FYI.) While I vocally appreciate that the school is supplying the tape (as they should, plus the overtime, which I'd very-very-very happily give up if they would get someone else to pack), I still feel like having an opinion on the packing tape is a valid lunch break discussion.

Or we could talk about everyone's errand lists. But, we always do that. Tape has the advantage of being a locally hot topic without any risk of offending people. Does the tape smell like vinegar to anyone else? Are my fine motor skills corroded, or is this brand a misery to wrangle? Let me tell you about my Thornbirds sheep-shearing fantasy that I live out every time (and there have been so many times) I straddle a packed box to cut it open.

(Not you, them. I think you've heard that story before. In fact, I pretty much just told it again.)

I realize that this topic of conversation, to a person who is just waiting for a good opening where they can throw in their own agenda, is not very interesting. So I play up my persona of being the pseudohippie ditz who is over-contemplating the tape-shaped lint in a Home Depot-sized navel, madly hoping that a Cliff-from-Cheers type will lean forward with some good 3M facts (not just progenitors of Post-Its, but masking tape, too!). Hell, we're English teachers, maybe we could take the side topic of how Americanizing the first Harry Potter book meant that we lost the lovely pun on Sellotape (Spellotape!)

Or we could just report our day and gossip. That's fine. Really. (No, really - this is not my sarcastic voice.) I don't think everyone should love my topic more (just because I do). But don't act like I'm the weird one because my passing interests are sometimes quite narrow and specific. It's called Being Curious.

On the official brain file label, that is. But I keep that little voice on retainer to cough a little cough and tell me that I need to tell a personal anecdote or something and stop surveying people on their tape habits.

(Everyone keeps doing "I am thankful for..." status updates on Facebook lately. I am thankful for marrying a man who will not only talk about tape for 30 minutes, if I want, and not only add new information, and not only add new questions/ponderings, but who will venture aloud that it might be neat to visit a tape factory some day. He never has, but I can't imagine it not happening if the subject ever comes up. For this, the occasional icky noise is forgiven. I wonder which kind of tape factory would be the most interesting to visit...)

Anyway, said little voice is just an underpaid actor in my head troupe, so I don't know why I listened to it when I was leaving the school parking lot. There was a former student, one I say hello to often enough, but I just had to roll down Mike's window and holler out some inane goodbye, some "You need to go home!" crap that is meant to sound supportive/appreciative but really just feels like Rob Schneider is calling about payment on a SNL script I borrowed from the eighties.

I think Mike's window has been rolled up and down maybe, I don't know, ten times since last year. Maybe less. The bill last time really made my innards undulate, and that was before I even knew about cruise ships or DVD players that let you stream NetFlix on your television.

But oh no, I think I have to give a pity hug to the Stop Humouring Your Silly Ideas voice. So I roll the window down. (Blah blah blah.) I roll the window u...


I didn't even get mad; it was almost poetry.

Luckily, this time we didn't get asshats to repair it, so the bill was about a third of what it was last year. Unpleasant, but a good thing that I joined the loyalty club a few weeks ago when I was getting 10 jillion things fixed (for another four-digit sum). $50 off! (That's two Indian buffets, including tip! And, yeah, I file "Indian Food" with "Tape" under "Stupid Things Shari Asks Too Many Questions About.")

It turns out that Ford Focii (erm, that's a little precious even for me), or at least those of the 1999-2003 variety (I stopped Googling after that), have a known problem with the power window regulator thingies. Alas, it's not a "recall" or "class action suit" kind of known problem. It's a "Ford uses a cheap plastic dealie in there that is bound to fail and is relatively expensive to replace" type of known problem. A "You got what you paid for {Nelsonlaugh}" problem.

I'm just so glad ours is a two-door vehicle. You should read the sad stories of the sedan folk, and their tales of one, two, three, four windows getting replaced within months.

I like my Focus, I really do, but it is what it is. (Comfy, usually reliable, and paid for years ago.)

But if I ever buy a new car, I have all kinds of smart questions to ask about the power window management syste,. (Or all kinds of stubborness to stick to if they try to upsell me from manual windows.)

Not that we're ever allowed to roll down the windows again.


(Next episode: "The Mayonnaise Drama, or The Rule About How Only Drinks Can Go on the Top Shelf of the Fridge.")

13 November 2009 |






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