“So, um, I have something really embarrassing to tell you.”
— me to my dad yesterday morning.
When Noelle passed away. my dad was left with an extra car. More hassle than it could be worth to him, he decided to unload it. It’s in perfect shape, as meticulously cared for as everything else he owns, so it would have been easy to sell. So easy in fact, that his repair shop was begging for dibs.
Being my dad, however, he had another plan.
“I was thinking,” he said, “that I’d give it to you guys.”
Once I peeled my mouth off the floor and stopped protesting, he said, “Listen, it gets me out from under the insurance and upkeep. You sell your SUV, get out from under the loan, maybe even get a few bucks in your pocket, and everybody wins.”
I tried to argue.That doesn’t really work with my dad.
“In a couple of years,” he said, “I’ll give you my car (the one he has now) and you can give this one to Katie.”
We all decided that we’d cross that bridge when we came to it. All except for Katie, who immediately dubbed it “her car.”
On Sunday, my dad handed over the keys to the car, along with two spares and every receipt for every service that has ever been performed on it. Oh, and an envelope with enough cash “to cover the first tune up and oil change because, well, that’s usually complimentary with a new car and why should this be any different?” For the record, on no planet that I’ve ever lived on has a used car come with a tune up and oil change, but again, you try to argue with my dad.
Since we hadn’t been able to register it in Massachusetts without the title in hand, we had to take it with his plates still on it. We promised to send them back within a couple of days so that he could cancel his insurance.Of course he said, “When you do, you do,” because Dad.
All packed up and ready to go, we left in two cars, Luau driving our old one with Brooke, and me driving, um, “Katie’s.” Our little caravan set out for my sister’s house in New Jersey before heading home. And that was where it happened.
The GPS (whom we’d named Jan so that we could say, “Sure, Jan” every time she told us what to do) was nearly impossible to follow through the winding, looping, and seriously OMG WTF’ing that is the Garden State Parkway. I was sort of, maybe, okay COMPLETELY stressed out when we reached yet another toll booth and I may have sort of, maybe, okay COMPLETELY lost it when we pulled up and saw that there were two lanes for EZ Passes (which we have but didn’t have in
Katie’s the new car) and one for exact change. And I may have sort of, maybe, okay COMPLETELY spewed some really choice words to express my incredulity that the only two ways to pass through this toll were to have an EZ Pass or $1.50 in EXACT %$@!ing change because HOW COULD WE KNOW THAT AHEAD OF TIME?
Katie and I scrambled. I had her look in the glove box, praying my dad had left some quarters lying around, clearly forgetting that my dad isn’t a guy who leaves ANYTHING lying around EVER which is precisely why this 2004 car looks brand spanking new and has a folder in it containing a receipt for EVERY SINGLE service ever performed on it. EVER.
We rifled through my purse and my wallet and our pockets and came up with approximately 67c. Honestly, it may have been 47c. I can’t be sure. What I can be sure of is that it was absolutely, positively NOT $1.50.
Katie was panicked. “What are you going to do?” she asked.
“I’m going to offer the toll Gods 67c and hope for the best, kiddo,” I said. “We really don’t have a choice.”
I threw the change, pennies and all, into the basket and wondered, for the thousandth time, what the hell is wrong with New Jersey.
Within a few minutes, we’d caught up to Luau and Brooke. Despite the fact that we were on the Parkway, we were in traffic because New Jersey, so I pulled up next to them. Brooke rolled down the window and I unleashed our tail of woe and WTF and seriously, what is wrong with this state and how are we supposed to know that we HAVE to have $1.50 in change to drive on this road and OH MY GOD how is it okay that the toll at the Lincoln Tunnel is FOURTEEN DOLLARS?
Just before I could ask how Chris Christie sleeps at night, Luau shouted back, “Um, hon? One of the EZ Pass lanes also said “Cash.”
“What did you do?” he asked, clearly trying not laugh,
I told him that we’d made our offering to the toll gods and that I supposed that I’m just going to get a fine in the mail.
And that was when it happened.
“Um, babe?” he shouted back. “Your DAD is going to get a fine in the mail.”
Less than 24 hours after leaving my dad’s house with a car he’d GIVEN to me, I had to call him. And start the conversation with, “So, um, I have something really embarrassing to tell you.”
I was officially 16 years old again on Monday morning.
After we both caught our breath after laughing so hard at least one of us thought she might pee herself, he said, “I can’t wait to see what you write about this.”
You’re welcome, Pop.
And more importantly, thank you.