My diary here begins in unusual circumstances -- I'm here in Florida, dealing with all the minutiae that attend the death of your parent. There's a lot to deal with, even in the case of someone who had made "a good death" (as the Victorians called it) and had a will, living will, a letter of instruction to the family, bills and bank information in one spot, an appointed executor (my brother.) And among the bequests and instructions that he had insisted on for the past three years was that I was to get his car -- a 2007 Lincoln Continental.
And I'm not sure why.
To understand how really strange this gift is, you have to picture me -- a long-haired hippie chick from the 70's -- a retiree who's living the life of a scientist (and a dozen other things, but that's another story.) I run around in the field, play occasional "shovelbum" for a paleontologist, help prep fossils in a museum, volunteer as an eco-educator for Audubon, and do my own projects as a "scientist of independent means." I have been known to wade into drying muddy ponds to rescue an alligator gar. I chase lizards, play foster mom to newly hatched baby snakes, hunt grasshoppers, and if my clothes all sorta match, it's a good day and I've done laundry that week. I drive a Nissan Altima named "Falco", which is full of research notes, insect nets, temporary cages for frogs and insects, paleo dig gear, and all the fribbles of daily life -- including my snakes (they're educational snakes. They travel to different Audubon centers so I can take them out and go "Hey! Wanna see a snake?" and amuse myself watching half the audience claw their way to the back of the room. The other half scrambles to join them if I get out one of the Audubon tarantulas, hold it in my hands and go "Look! Fuzzy spider!" It's VERY educational.)
Falco has to put up with dirt roads, the occasional grass patch, desert travel, and whatever else I get into.
And now I've been gifted with this 2007 Lincoln Continental and EVERYONE who encounters me and the car has wondered "what in the heck was your dad THINKING?"
I've never owned a car this big. It's huge. It comes with its own gravitational field. Miniature moons orbit at a respectful distance. It turns off its headlights when IT wants to turn them off and not when YOU want them off. It has a standup hood ornament -- the Lincoln hood ornament -- that looks just like a targeting gunsight. If I decide I want to take out some irritating little Prius, all I have to do is aim the Lincoln's gunsight right on the offender's license plate and hit the accelerator. It's heavy enough that I could knock any six of them into the next county.
This machine is a regal beauty -- cream white, soft ecru leather seats, wood grain paneling, gold colored trim, all the bells and whistles, and as pristine as when it drove off the showroom floor. It has 30,000 miles on it (yes, dad drove it and was the terror of the highways.) It has disabled vet license plates that make me feel like a fraud when I sit behind the steering wheel because I'm neither disabled nor a vet. On a good day, it gets about 20 mpg. The gods know what evil things it might do on a BAD day.
It has a trunk large enough for Jimmy Hoffa and half a dozen associated politicians. You could host a hamster migration in there and have room left over for a snake or six (there's always room for a snake. Trust me on this one.)
It does interesting things. It makes strange galloping noises when we shut it off and it has a backup alarm that we've dubbed the "iceberg alert" which must have been tuned for my dad's driving because it goes into hysterics any time we get the bumper within 10 feet of something. It has an aging TomTom GPS system that... I kid you not... loses track of where it is occasionally -- AND this particular GPS farts. Yes, every 20 miles or so when she's trying to recalculate some sort of navigation in her tiny pea-sized chips, she makes a noise like a musical fart. I'm not sure if she's having a psychotic breakdown or not, but I replaced her with Sulu (my Garman) and so far Sulu hasn't had any psychotic or gastrointestinal episodes.
The car is legendary at dad's church for being the Squeaky-Clean Terror of The Roads. The minister joked with me that it was washed with fine towels and distilled water every three days. I'm actually a bit too intimidated to let anyone sit in this car and eat anything at this point and I'm short on distilled water, virgin handmaidens, and clean soft towels. I'm hoping this won't be a hindrance to our travel back to Texas since my husband sort of drives like dad. The car and he may have some sort of understanding.
So here I am with this vehicle. It's sort of like the legendary white elephant given by rajahs of yore. If I could find some way to house it in museum style, I would -- but I don't have that kind of money. I'm really not sure what I'm going to do with it, but am leaning towards "putting it in storage until one of our other cars falls apart." That might be the safest option, because, although dad is lying right now in the funeral home, embalmed and ready for his journey to Arlington National Cemetery, he's actually not Officially Dead. And if I go to register the car, we're going to go through the "dad gave me this car and he's dead so I need the title -- so where's the death certificate, ma'm? -- I don't have one, sir -- Then your dad isn't dead and we can't let you steal his car" dance. Been there. Got the ticket, thanks. Registration has to wait until he's really, sincerely, irrevocably dead.
In my own efforts to become friends with this machine, I've named it The Titanic -- because on some cosmic scale when you name something it's yours. Tonight we're spending time with the manual (a strange concept to me -- for I am also a computer geek, and Manuals Are For Other People donchaknow) to figure out some of the features before we drive the Titanic 1800 miles back to Texas.
So, hello fellow KOSsacs from a long time lurker and first time diarist. Nice to meet you all.