I Bought a Jeep Wrangler

The title should actually read “I (almost!) Bought a Jeep Wrangler.”

I had an April Fool’s joke all written and ready to post the last day of March (today), but I changed it to “draft” — it was a re-do of last year’s prank, where many of my gullible readers believed I’d ponied up and bought a Jeep Wrangler. I’m pretty sure I would’ve fooled a lot of the same crowd again (you know who you are).

I decided not to post my April Fool’s joke this year because of how very very very veryveryvery close I actually came to buying a Jeep Wrangler this week. We’re not talking “Oh, Snay swung by the dealership and drooled on Jeeps until the police took him away”, we’re talking “Snay had financing lined up and his finger on the trigger.”

Understand that I will on occasion a few times a month search the inventories of local car dealerships for Wranglers. I will on occasion search eBay motors for local auctions on Wranglers. And doing that late last week, I came across an auction for a Jeep at a dealership in Annapolis that I fell head-over-heels in love with. Whereas I always before would just look and drool, for some reason I contacted the dealership and started talking with the internet sales manager about financing, and down-payments, and no trade-in, etcetra. Running late for V for Vendetta Tuesday night, I told him I’d drive down the next day to do all the paperwork and pick up the Jeep, and providing my insurance wouldn’t go up too much.

My insurance broker, Andy, used to work at the Indy. He was a buddy of JMac and a regular customer — and a good tipper — for a short time before coming to work a few night shifts a week. Then his insurance job picked up and he hasn’t looked back. When I spoke to him yesterday about the insurance increase, he related a story to me of his neighbor — just the other day — looking to sell his Wrangler and asking Andy if he knew anyone who might be interested. Andy told him, “Actually, I do…” and then came in the next morning to my voice mail message. He was a little saddened when I called him back to tell him I’d opted not to buy the Jeep, and he was probably remembering some of those shifts we’d work together when it was slow and I’d ride along with him in his ’95 Wrangler.

couldabeenmine

In this case, what I almost bought was a 2004 electric lime green “X” trim, 20,000 miles, 6-cyl, 5-speed, soft-top with full-steel doors. It would’ve — could’ve — been mine, with a thousand bucks down and sixty-six monthly payments of $315, with an insurance increase of seventy-bucks per month (hoorah for multiple vehicle discounts). Then reality – guilt? – gripped me, I phoned the dealership, and put the axe to the deal. I can’t buy a Jeep until I pay my parents off … or at the very least, until the Celica’s on her last legs (wheels?). I’m suffering from a strange combination of non-buyer’s remorse and non-buyer’s gratitude. (And I figure, with Neckbone going out of town on vacation in April, I’ll get to satisfy my Jeep cravings with his Rubicon. I’m planning seven consecutive day trips to Ocean City, anyone wanna come with?)

I’m reluctant to admit this because I’m quite certain that after reading this, my dear, sainted mother is going to throw things at me the next time I see her (Tuesday). And the only reason my dear, sainted father won’t throw things at me is because he’ll be out of town.

Self-control is a good thing.

(At least, that’s what I keep telling myself).

(Is there any wonder my mother’s hair turned gray a year after I was born?)

Ethanol Shortages

EIA has forecast summer gasoline prices averaging about $2.50 per gallon, or 12 cents more than last year. It has not, however, directly blamed ethanol shortages.

Awesome. Because, as memory serves, this is less than what gas prices were most of last summer and I’m happy to see it not get that high again.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November

So last night I met up with Jennetic at the Rotunda to see V for Vendetta. (Warning, Phil, this post contains spoilers).

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
gunpowder, treason and plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

November 5th, which, in 1605, was when Guy Fawkes tried to assassinate the king and blow up the Parliment at Westminster Palace. He was captured and executed, but as V, the somewhat questionable hero of “V for Vendetta” explains, “You can kill a man, but you can’t kill a symbol.”

In a future England, the country has become a police state — a thug by the name of Sattler has risen to power using similar tactics to Hitler. Y’know the drill, but instead of torching the Reichstag, he poisoned and bombed British citizens, blamed it on religious fanatics, and presto-voila! A police state was born. (Meanwhile, the United States has apparently collapsed into civil war).

All we know about V is that he was used for medical experiments at a secret camp somewhere north of London. He’s horribly burned, and not just a little bitter about the treatment he recieved. To that end, he enjoys assaulting the Secret Police, blowing up parts of London, and embarassing the hell out of the fascist government — oh, he’s also systematically assassinating every party member involved in the secret medical experiments. He’s also a little nuts — his favorite movie is The Counte of Monte Christo (he views himself a bit as Edward Dontes) and he enjoys sparring with a suit of armor while watching it.

Into this, Evie finds herself brought after she is assaulted and nearly gang-raped by a bunch of horny and rather ugly Secret Police members. Who should show up but our masked vigilante who displays talent with a variety of sharp and lethal knives. It’s tricky getting used to a character whose face you never see, particularly in terms of dialogue — for most of his introductory sequence I was almost guessing if he was the person speaking.

During all of this, London’s chief inspector, during his investigation of the homicides of many party members (courtesy of V), begins to uncover information about the series of events which turned Britain into a police state, that force him to question his loyalty to his government.

V’s ultimate motive is to fulfill Guy Fawkes’ mission and blow up the Parliment. It’s rather meaningless, there being no longer an elected government, but he thinks it will do well, as a symbol, to bring hope back to the people of Britain, who have long since been in deep fear for their lives, as even an innocent off-the-cuff remark can result in jail. Evie at first is resistant to V’s quest, betraying him even, but after she witnesses an old boss (the Jay Leno of England) being violently arrested and beaten after a skit that takes a shot at the government, her mind is made up and hardened after her own prison ordeal — and it is finally she, not V, who puts into motion Fawkes’ plan, while above ground, thousands of angry citizens tired of being frightened march towards the heavily armed soldiers blocking their path …

This was a very good movie. Probably the first I’ve enjoyed this much since Batman Begins — it just works for me. I never read the comic it was based on, so I can’t judge it there, but as a story of oppressed good working for omnipresent evil, and on character growth and exploration and, y’know, gratuitous violence, it was very very very enjoyable.

After the movie, Jenn and I went over to Dizzy Issie’s for beer and food. I had a Bass Ale and a bacon cheeseburger. This morning I was three pounds less than I was yesterday. God I love being me.

(I almost bought a Jeep today, but then common sense found me and I didn’t. Thank goodness).

Week Thirteen

Somehow, in spite of all of the delicious home cooked dinners and deserts at the reception following my grandmother’s funeral, I have still lost half a pound — two-hundred and twenty-five, a total loss of twenty-three pounds since January 2nd.

It’s good to have my metabolism, I guess would be the lesson here.

I Hate Netflix and Love Kohl’s

Of three movie selections supposed to be delivered to my apartment last Wednesday, only one showed up. Unable to report the other two missing for six days (Derailed and 35-Up!), and unable to watch the one I recieved (42-Up!), I was stuck fuming and checking my mailbox each day to see if they’d magically appeared. Today, the missing two finally appeared in my mailbox. Considering how late these two were marked as “mailed” on Tuesday, I think they got stuck in the facility until Saturday when someone noticed them, said “oh shit!” and put ‘em with the outgoing.

**

I love Kohl’s. They’re running a sale on ties, and had an entire rack of nice, brilliant, contemporary neckties by Arrow and Croft & Barrow for $5. Plus, they had a selection of Croft & Barrow dress-shirts packaged with silk ties for $10. Whenever I get an office job? I’m totally set.

Until then, I can dress up nice and pretend.

I Hate Netflix and Love Kohl's

Of three movie selections supposed to be delivered to my apartment last Wednesday, only one showed up. Unable to report the other two missing for six days (Derailed and 35-Up!), and unable to watch the one I recieved (42-Up!), I was stuck fuming and checking my mailbox each day to see if they’d magically appeared. Today, the missing two finally appeared in my mailbox. Considering how late these two were marked as “mailed” on Tuesday, I think they got stuck in the facility until Saturday when someone noticed them, said “oh shit!” and put ‘em with the outgoing.

**

I love Kohl’s. They’re running a sale on ties, and had an entire rack of nice, brilliant, contemporary neckties by Arrow and Croft & Barrow for $5. Plus, they had a selection of Croft & Barrow dress-shirts packaged with silk ties for $10. Whenever I get an office job? I’m totally set.

Until then, I can dress up nice and pretend.

To Rest

Seven or eight hours in a car? I’m exhausted … and amazed that my fuel economy went up to thirty-seven miles per gallon. It’s all those highway miles.

Before the next funeral, I need to get my Dad to write and illustrate for me a “Who’s Who” of the extended family. Bob and Lester (“The Rose Man”) I knew, and their wives, a lot of other faces were familiar even if I couldn’t say how they were so. My Dad’s side of the family is very large — of the thirteen or fifteen children my great-grandparents had, most of them settled on the Delmarva Penninsula, and while they’re all dead (Great-Aunt Virginia is the last surviving in-law), most of their children, and many of their grand-children and great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren still live in the area. So there was a fairly healthy turnout of people I in most cases didn’t even recognize, even though they all seemed to know who I was. (You know it’s a large extended family when people knowingly talk about sub-groups like “The Southern Contingent”).

My sister wasn’t able to attend the funeral. The cost of bringing her back from Hawaii are high, and aware of grandma’s condition, Emily visited her every time she was back in Maryland. Fortunatly, my Aunt Peggy (my mom’s older sister) is currently visiting Emily in Hawaii, so with Peggy and of course her roomate Maggie (my mom’s other sister’s daughter), she’s got family support.

My grandmother looked like wax at the viewing. At first, it was beyond creepy. But as I looked at the photos of her (more on this), I realized the wax-her captured many of the features of the younger-her.

(Just for note — a Princess Anne police officer [since when does P.A. have a PD?] served to block traffic on Main Street for the funeral procession. The funeral procession went from the funeral home to the cemetary … one hundred yards away.)

I served as a pallbearer, as I did for my grandfather. After the funeral, across the street at the church where a reception was held, old Cousin Bob found me looking at the cemetary as he and his wife were preparing to leave. Mind you, this isn’t the cemetary where my grandparents are buried — this one is filled with tombstones dated from the early eighteen-hundreds into the mid nineteen hundreds. Two weathered, worn and battered tombstones in particular had my attention — those of my great-grandparents. “I never knew my grandfather,” Bob said, talking about B. Fred Benson (I have no idea what the “B” stood for), who died in 1921 at age sixty. “But I served as a pallbearer for my grandmother.” (That’d be Emma C., who died in 1959). Bob mentioned that he’d always considered that a special honor, clapped me on the back, and left.

I don’t think I’ve ever learned as much about my grandparents as I have at their funeral. I didn’t know that my grandmother’s two older sisters both died when they were ninety-two. Coincidently, my grandmother’s ninety-third birthday would be this May. I don’t know how old her brother was when he died (I wonder…)

There was a bit of controversy about Bob. During the service, the Pastor told a story that occured during the annual “hog slaughter” at the farm, where a certain someone held up a hog’s head in front of the kitchen window and scared the ever loving wits out of my grandmother who was trying to prepare dinner at the time. Both my Dad and Uncle seemed to believe Bob was the responsible party, but he denied it vigorously.

Cousin Dave had a cute little antecdote about running into town in the car with my grandmother and father, and grandma was waiting to cross an intersection, and waiting so long with no traffic apparent that my Dad finally blurted out, “There’s a car coming down from Pocamoke…” and everyone who heard it expressed surprised that he hadn’t gotten slapped for it. (Quickly followed was a description by my father — complete with hand-motions and sound-effects, about how she would shift directly from first gear to third gear … at ten miles an hour … and the resulting jumping and grumbling from the vehicle).

There were numerous photos of both of my grandparents when they were younger. One of them was stamped on a tiny metal plate — both of them in a booth, smiling down at the camera. Numerous others showed my grandmother in a skirt and jacket posed around the farm — almost always the same pose, hands behind her, leaning back, a huge smile on her face. Some of the photos even showed the farmhouse “before” my grandfather’s renovations — I completely didn’t recognize it — it used to be beautiful!

In all of the photos, my grandfather, like myself and the Benson men, is bald and ugly. Well, okay, I’m not bald yet, but that’s just one of those “give it time” things (although my dad has a mostly full head of hair yet). As for my grandmother — what a dish! Hopefully, some day I’ll marry someone just as beautiful.

I’m going to close with one last story that Bob’s wife (what is her name? Seriously, I need a directory) related to me. Many years ago, when they were newly-weds, my grandfather and grandmother took a trip to Colorado to visit distant relations. Ten years ago, one of these cousins, Leslie Benson, visited the eastern shore and my grandparents. He took my grandmother’s hand and told her, “Jean, when you and George came to visit all those years ago, I was sixteen years old and I had the biggest crush on you. You’re still just as beautiful.”

Obit

This is the obit my Dad wrote for my grandmother.

(Names changed to protect the guilty).

[Grandma], 92, of Princess Anne died Wednesday, March 22, 2006, at Manokin Manor.

[Grandma] was born May 13, 1913, in Houston, Texas, the third of four children of E.A. and Electa Roney Chappell. As a child, she moved with her family first to Savannah, Ga., and then to Phenix City, Ala. She graduated from Central High School in Phenix City and studied at Chase Conservatory of Music in Columbus, Ga.

Early in 1940, she met her future husband, [Grampa] of Princess Anne, while working in Columbus. [Grampa] was at the time in the Maryland National Guard and stationed at nearby Fort Benning. They married on August 28, 1940.

After her husband returned from World War II service in Europe, the couple settled briefly in Phenix City before moving with their two sons to the family farm near Princess Anne in 1947. Their third son was born in 1950.

[Grandma] was an accomplished seamstress, gardener and pianist, and was devoted to her family. She taught piano to children and adults for many years. When not teaching, [Grandma] enjoyed playing classical selections, especially Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” and Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”

After her husband’s death in November 2003, she lived at Lakeside Assisted Living in Salisbury before moving to Manokin Manor in early 2005.

[Grandma] is survived by her three sons, [Uncle Bill -- no, the other one] and his wife, [Aunt], of Princess Anne, [Dad] and his wife, [Mom], of Columbia, Md., and [Uncle Duke] of Princess Anne; four grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

… and in a lighter note

Greg hired a new driver.

He’s not going to last long.

Greg asked why I thought that. First, let me explain the new guy drives a Ford Explorer. It gets a whopping fifteen miles to the gallon.

The franchise’s delivery area, as I’ve explained before, isn’t a compact area of apartments, town-homes, and strip-malls. It’s larger than Baltimore City, boasts three gas stations, and four traffic lights. It’s made up of trailer trash, farms, bigger farms and McMansions.

I’m paid $1 in mileage per delivery. I make this much because Greg will give out mileage increases in lieu of pay raises. Newbies start at, I believe, seventy- or eighty- cents compensation.

Long story short, this new guy looks half-brain-dead already, but it’s probably not going to take him long to realize he’s pissing all his tip money right back into the gas tank. And once that lightbulb clicks, he’s gone.

**

Another reason I know he won’t last long?

Last night, I told him where he’d be going on his delivery. Like a good little boy, he checked the map and figured out where he was headed. Came back over, looked at the oven, looked at the boxes waiting for pizzas, then looked at the heat rack. “So … should I go now?”

“Well, sure …” I said. “But you’ll notice the pizza isn’t out of the oven yet so I don’t know what the point would be.”

He gave me this blank look. Not quite an Ogre-blank look, but close enough.

(Guess who I get to work with tonight? Greg’s drafted Ogre to drive Friday rush.)

Disc Purge

In an attempt to clear up some bookshelf space — and to do something besides mope around my apartment today and tonight and tomorrow ad naseum — I am purging my ridiculously oversized DVD collection by about 100 titles that in some cases I haven’t watched since purchasing. I’m hoping to boost up my savings account a little, too.

It’s something I’ve been thinking of doing for the last few months, and, truthfully, I needed something to keep myself occupied today (besides slow ass work). So, in the spirit of ruthless capitalism, feel free (please!) to click here to see what I’ve got up on eBay — (I’ll be adding more items throughout the weekend).

Who knows. Maybe you’ll find something you’re interested in. (Free drop-off for Baltimore area bloggers).

1913 – 2006

dadandgrandma
(A very non-flattering photo of my father and his mother.)

My paternal grandfather, George, died in November, 2003. He’d been sick, and when I saw him one mildly-cold Sunday, he’d been unconcious for several days, moaning in his sleep on a hospital bed set up in the farmhouse‘s living room, under the care of a giant and gentle black nurse. He was a tough old gizzard, who only a few months prior had given himself a nice whack on his very bald melon when he’d insisted on mowing the lawn and forgotten to duck when he rode the mower under a low-hanging branch.

The next day, leaving the Indy, my phone rang with a call from my mother — didn’t take a genius to figure out what she was calling about, and indeed, he’d passed away. I wish I could say he passed away peacefully, but I don’t think he was. There were some things to take comfort in — he’d lived a long life (he was 90, if memory serves), and his one wish — to pass before his wife, children, and grandchildren — was granted.

So when my cell phone rang tonight at ten o’clock, and I saw it was from my parents’ cell-phone, it once again didn’t take a lot of guessing to figure out why there were calling me so late — my mother had let me know earlier this month that her health was deteriorating — and indeed, my paternal grandmother went to sleep Tuesday night and passed away this evening at about 9:30.

Jeanne (also my mother’s name, guess Dad took the “sons marry their mothers/daughters marry their fathers” old wives’ tale a bit seriously), born the same year as her husband, was suffering from Alzheimer’s. I can’t remember the last time she recognized me, even when Dad told her who I was. But for all that, she died peacefully surrounded by family — my dad, my mom, my uncle and aunt — and for all I know and hope, she’s reuniting with her husband now.

Love you, Grandma.

(Hah. Actually, she was deaf as a post for at least the last twenty years, so it wasn’t enough to say “I love you, Grandma”, you pretty much had to grip her shoulders and scream it into her ear “I LOVE YOU GRANDMA!”, and even then she’d look at you, complete bewilderment on her face, and say, ‘The barn is on fire?’)

“Mmmm … bye.”

A disturbing trend I’ve been noticing.

Whenever I answer the phone at the Indy, after collecting all the delivery info for an order — customer name, phone, address, business name, suite number, extension?, time of order — and then the order itself — sub, pizza, salad or other? drinks? need plates or napkins? what’s on that sub? ketchup on the side for the western fries? — I find myself signing off the phone by saying “Bye.”

Except that I don’t just say “Bye.”

I lead into it. As I scan the ticket for any information I may need to collect, I begin a slow lead into my conclusion — “Mmmmm…” — and once I’m satisfied there is no further information I need to complete the order, I throw in the “Bye”, hang up, and am onto other tasks.

Even more disturbing, I noticed that most men (or women with really really really deep voices) on the other end of the line do the same thing.

It’s vaguely feminine to say over the phone “mmmmm bye.” It’s extraordinarily ridiculous for two grown men to say to each other, at roughly the same time, “Mmmmm bye.”

I need to break this habit. Mmmmm … now!

"Mmmm … bye."

A disturbing trend I’ve been noticing.

Whenever I answer the phone at the Indy, after collecting all the delivery info for an order — customer name, phone, address, business name, suite number, extension?, time of order — and then the order itself — sub, pizza, salad or other? drinks? need plates or napkins? what’s on that sub? ketchup on the side for the western fries? — I find myself signing off the phone by saying “Bye.”

Except that I don’t just say “Bye.”

I lead into it. As I scan the ticket for any information I may need to collect, I begin a slow lead into my conclusion — “Mmmmm…” — and once I’m satisfied there is no further information I need to complete the order, I throw in the “Bye”, hang up, and am onto other tasks.

Even more disturbing, I noticed that most men (or women with really really really deep voices) on the other end of the line do the same thing.

It’s vaguely feminine to say over the phone “mmmmm bye.” It’s extraordinarily ridiculous for two grown men to say to each other, at roughly the same time, “Mmmmm bye.”

I need to break this habit. Mmmmm … now!