Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hello. My Name is Flamingo Joe and I'm a Car Addict

I am going to tell you the story of Flamingo Joe's new car in this post, not because I think it will make a better blog post than, say, for example, the story of a fellow coworker kissing Flamingo Joe at his goodbye happy hour a couple of weeks ago, but because I think the story of this car should be recorded in the Flamingo Family History, as I believe it may lead to either Flamingo Joe's utter ruination or his salvation (as it concerns his relationships with cars -- not as it concerns his relationship with Jesus, which is on solid footing).

So don't expect to be entertained -- this is merely a recitation of the facts -- it will by no means be carried off with the same wit as a post about Dez crashing a singer's gig at Whiskey Joe's, for example:

So don't get your hopes up.

Several weeks ago, Flamingo Joe's sister, Julie, called him up and asked him if wanted her husband, Jeff's, 1965 Triumph Spitfire.  Jeff and Julie moved from San Diego to Durango, Colorado last summer.  Two of their three kids are enrolled in college there now and Durango is beautiful, so they upped and moved.  (See, now, if in ten years I suggest to Flamingo Joe that we move to the same city where our kids are in college, I will be accused of babying my children.  Somehow Julie never gets faced with these accusations, but my husband likes to tell Casey that he will be homecolleged.) For some reason, Jeff did not want to take the car to Durango when they moved.  I say "for some reason" because the reason that Flamingo Joe stated to me was the reason, was almost undoubtedly not the actual reason.

Why am I so suspicious of my husband, do you ask?

Flamingo Joe has trouble telling the truth when it comes to cars.  Typically, his lack of truthfulness arises when he finds a car he really wants, but believes I will not let him purchase (or ship across the country).  A 1988 Toyota MR2 and 1979 Corvette come immediately to mind.  Because he believes that I will deny him the life-changing opportunity of owning completely useless cars, he resorts to omissions regarding the car's true mechanical condition and insists that he will be driving said car back and forth to work and save lots of gas money because the car is waaaay more economical.

So he almost always comes to me saying:
1)  he has a plan to unload his current (perfectly good) car or truck (usually by giving it to a family member -- we ended up with the corvette three or four years ago when Joe "needed" to give his truck to his father, who had recently moved in with us and was bugging Joe's mom to get him a car; the Department of Motor Vehicles should have suspended Grandpa Ray's license 15 years ago and everyone knew it; so Joe basically unloaded the truck without transferring title and leaving the car parked in our own driveway);
2) the new car he wants is not new, will cost less than $5,000 usually, and he will use whatever recent windfall we have received (tax return, work bonus, you get the idea) and should go to paying off our existing debt, to purchase this older model car that could almost be cool if it ran consistently and looked better;
3) the car he wants is drivable and will only need minor repairs; I don't even bother pretending to believe this one anymore.

I have learned to ask Flamingo Joe a very important question when he comes at me with a car scheme -- the conversation goes like this:

Flamingo Joe: "I have a proposition for you . . . "
Me: (not waiting for him to finish) "Does it have air conditioning?"

Because I have learned that NONE (count them . . . none) of the cars that Flamingo Joe purchases have a/c, and that all of his promises to drive said car back and forth to work are absolutely worthless when the temperature rises above 85 degrees.

We live in Florida -- the temperature rises above 85 degrees over 300 days a year.

It's not like there is no explanation for Joe's complete absence of morals when it comes to trying to get a car he really wants -- he loves cars.  He just loves them.  So it appears he cannot help himself when he is overcome with car desire.  Even if there were therapy for such a malady, I wouldn't really want him cured of it.  It's a neurosis I can deal with.

I could go on and on along these lines but I'd hate for my husband to feel attacked, so let's just say that when Flamingo Joe told me that Jeff and Julie wanted to give him the Spitfire if we would split the cost of shipping it across the country, I only sort of believed him.  For all I know, he agreed to exchange Mace for the car and is just waiting for an opportunity to pack the boy in bubble wrap and ship him off to Durango.

So a few weeks ago, a car transport truck pulled off the road at the end of our driveway and unloaded the Spitfire:

We had to tow it down the driveway to the house.  As we were towing it, I was thinking back to the conversation Flamingo Joe and I had when he told me about the car.

I distinctly recalled him saying that the car ran.

That evening, Joe put gas in the car and it started.  Oh well.

Then all the gas leaked out through the hole in the fuel line and it stopped running.

Then Flamingo Joe fixed it.

For the next couple of nights, Flamingo Joe took the kids and Grandma (and okay, I confess, me . . . but only once) for rides up and down the street.

Since then, I've had to rescue him twice.  Once right down the street and once about a mile away.

But it is a really cute car, can legitimately be called a classic, and due to the lack of a roof that fits over the after-market rollbar, completely air-cooled.

The good news is that Flamingo Joe quit the job he actually had to drive to and now works from home.

Three days ago, Joe said, "I have a proposition for you . . . "  Before I could ask him if it had air conditioning, he said he was thinking of giving his truck (which is actually not his truck at all, but is titled in Grandpa Ray's name and is the truck Grandma bought Grandpa Ray after Grandpa Ray drove Joe's MR2 into one of the supports holding up the back porch stairs) to a family member in Idaho.  Uh . . . I thought we got to skip this part of the new old car acquisition process?  Where on earth was he going with this?  A car is involved so there is definitely something deceptive going on -- I'm no dummy.  Maybe he's on to me -- he knows I cracked the code.  I must have looked very suspicious -- he had changed the game on me so I was having a hard time maintaining my calm "I'm-taking-you-seriously-and-don't-suspect-a-thing" face.

So he pulled out his new game-stopper, "I was thinking I would take a road trip to Idaho with Casey to get the truck out there.  We could stop in Durango and stay there a couple of days.  It would be fun for Casey and I."

Did you SEE that????  He pulled the father/son bonding play on me.  An ordinary mother couldn't resist such a play, but I've been deconstructing these schemes for almost 15 years.

I can only assume he agreed to trade Casey, and not Mace, for the Spitfire.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Help Wanted

You would think, that in a slow economy, entrepreneurs would be extremely cautious about opening up new businesses.  In Tampa, businesses are closing left and right and left again.  Entire strip malls are sitting empty.  Salons close in the middle of the night, leaving their poor highlighted customers high and dry.  And probably even more telling -- the Disney Store closed.

The Disney Store.

A few months ago, a bar down the street, The Airplane Hangar, shut its doors -- though in the last 6 years, I've never seen more than 3 cars in the parking lot at any one time.  Within a week, it seemed, a new set of bars took its place -- Glo and Crazy Horse.  Can you guess what kind of bars they are? 

Let me give you a hint:  

Yep -- we've got ourselves a couple of nudie bars now down the street. 

How convenient.

The rearing stallion was installed about three weeks after the bars opened -- probably because the same three cars that frequented The Airplane Hangar were still the same cars frequenting the new establishments.  I assume the new owners wanted to catch the busy travelers' eyes on Hillsborough Avenue. I can testify that the stallion is eye-catching -- I  nearly wrecked the first time I saw it.  

At first it was just the horse.

Same three cars.

Then red lights were installed in place of the stallion's original eyes.

Same three cars.

Then a paint roller cover made the stallion anatomically correct.

I screamed bloody murder in my car and scared my children.

The paint roller cover was removed.

Then the horse was draped with white twinkle lights.

Same three cars.

Then the owners apparently figured out that the people driving the three cars weren't inviting all their friends to join them because the real draw to the new bars was lacking in some way.

So now they are hiring.  The sign has been up for two weeks and it does not appear that all (any?) of the positions have been filled.

I guess the economy isn't so bad after all.