Adventures of the Banana Boat
by Michele Christopher
Paul usually deals with all things sci-fi for his FTTW column Out of the Basement but we've let him up for some fresh air to tell us the story of the Banana Boat.
We were walking down the road one day and spotted an old yellow ’68 Plymouth Fury parked out in front of a house. It had a “For Sale” sign in the window. My friend Mike took a closer look at it and said we should ask the guy how much he wanted for the car. What the hell? Why not?
We talked to the guy for a few minutes and asked him about the price. “If you can get it out of here, you can have it.”
Mike and I looked at each other and nodded. We got the keys, walked out to the car and spent 20 minutes looking it over and just sitting in it. We were really just happy to have something that didn’t belong to our parents. This belonged to us. This is something we could call our own. This represented our liberation from walking and bicycles and hitching rides with older, finicky friends who ditched you at the mall. Mike smiled and put the key in the ignition. “Dude, we’re fucking free, now!”
He turned the key. Nothing happened. He pumped the gas pedal a few times and turned the key again. Nothing. Our freedom had to wait until we could push the car three miles to Mike’s house.
We finished pushing the half-ton land yacht to Mike’s driveway and collapsed in the shade of his porch. Being out of breath and sweating profusely, we had to settle just looking at the car for the next 20 minutes. As I stared at the car, it occurred to me that I’d have to figure out some way to get it started and running so it would be something more than a big yellow status symbol of our Freedom. Until internal combustion took place, Freedom was firmly rooted to Mike’s driveway.
That’s when we noticed the car rolling backwards. It turns out I was mistaken. Freedom was on the move, just away from us and out into the street to be struck by the speeding semi of Progress. Freedom needed a new parking brake.
After we pushed the car back up the driveway and stuck a rock behind the tire, our first order of business was to pop the hood and see what mechanical hell awaited us. I gazed at the engine, along with the attendant hoses and wires. I had no idea what I was looking at, since the only thing I knew of automotive maintenance was that I was always standing in my Dad’s light or holding the light for him. I knowingly nodded anyway and as Mike came around the front and stood beside me, I gave my diagnosis. “Starter’s probably shot.”
Mike nodded and gave his opinion. “We need to paint this fucker orange.”
“Yeah – wait, what?”
“Yeah man, paint this fucker bright orange, just like a traffic cone. And put some chrome headers on this fucker, too. That’d be awesome!”
I gave his advice its due consideration. “You’re talking about the engine, right?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“But it doesn’t work.”
“Oh, we’ll figure it out.” Mike was an incurable optimist; however, his optimism often ran contrary to objective reality and objective reality stated that I’d have to figure out how an engine worked and then proceed to repair it on my own while Mike entertained dreams of a bright orange Big Block.
“Oh, and a chrome fucking air filter!”
And a chrome fucking air filter, too.
Stay tuned for Part II
Paul is a many of many talents. He can speak Klingon and change your oil filter.