It’s the back end of a very long day and there’s a salesman prattling on and on saying the things he thinks I want to hear and I’m tired and hungry and rushed and I want to tell him to SHUT UP FOR A SECOND, I’m trying to hear what the car has to say, and eventually he quiets down and I get just an inkling of a voice, something positive in there. When we get back I ignore the cold and walk all round the car, hugging the tires (to make sure they’re not wearing unevenly and to make sure the balljoints aren’t wobbly) and I lay my hand on the valve cover to feel the car’s heart and there’s another feeling of rightness and maybe the decision’s made right there.
Once we’re back inside, the prattle starts up again, redoubled, and it’s entirely too endless, pushing pushing pushing and I can’t tell if I want the car because it’s far and away the nicest one I’ve driven and I’ve actually wanted one for a decade now, or if it’s because his psychological sales tricks are working on me (I can see what he’s doing, the traps he’s laying even though I told him that I wouldn’t appreciate it if he did, and that is proof against it…right?) and eventually I decide that it’s the former with maybe a little bit of influence by the latter and I’m going against my own advice, not sleeping on it, going to buy it now, doing the math in my head and pushed ever forward forward forward by a sales guy who’s giving me the trade-in value I want, giving me the down payment and monthly payments I want, and sign sign sign did I agree to all of these things? Do I understand them all? I’m not sure I do, it’s too late and there’s this horrible sinking sensation like I want to call my dad for advice but have reached a stage in my life where he’s not honestly going to know any better than I would, I’m just on my own. I bite the bullet, I sign and sign and sign and try not to think about overextending my finances, about what if, about what if not. I call the finance guy on all of the little dirty tricks he played with the paperwork, but I go through with it anyway in the end.
And then it’s done and I’m alone in the frigid night, at the wheel of a big blue Honda with a haphazard pile of all the things that were in my truck in the cargo area and my faithful pickup with all of its wonderful stickers going behind the wall, gone forever. You don’t realize it, Travis the salesman, but that’s my safe space you’re taking away to wholesale, that’s my lifeline you’ve reduced to a fair market value, that’s my armor against the world that you took away, and I’m not even sure this new armor fits yet and I’m really really scared that I paid too much for it. Falling wildly in love always seems to end badly for me lately (slower-growth love is more trustworthy), so trepidation and self-mistrust are overwhelming any feelings of rightness. Where’s the restraint, where’s the caution? Too late for all that now; the only thing left to do is wonder what it’ll sound like when I smash into the rocks at the bottom of the cliff I’ve flung myself off of. Fuck it’s been a long day.
It’s just me and a big blue Honda. And the radio’s broken.
The big blue Honda finds its voice, now that we’re alone. It says, “Hallo, my name’s Armadillididae, but you can call me Armadilly.”
“Hey there, Armadilly,” I respond. “I guess we’re stuck with each other now. What shall we do next?”
“I know it’s late, but: Woodward,” the big blue Honda says. “Let’s go prowl Detroit and scheme about all the adventures we’re going to have.”
And I get a feeling like maybe everything’s going to be all right.