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This summer, our car, the one we drove approximately three thousand miles from Florida to the Pacific Northwest, caught on fire less than one month before our cross-country road trip. To say R and I were shitting bricks when we found out doesn’t begin to explain it as being able to drive the car, loaded with our stuff, was instrumental in our moving plan. The saddest thing is that we had absolutely nothing to do with the aforementioned car fire (Billy Joel jokes: optional but not encouraged), as we were approximately 4161 miles away from our car and had been for several weeks. How did it catch on fire? That’s a damn fine question, but I’m going to tell the story as it unfolded to us.

As I’ve mentioned before, after R and I quit our jobs we took some time to dick around in Europe. Lots of fun, but I digress. Because we’re cheap and R’s family lives within driving distance of an airport we could fly out of, we left our car with his dad for the duration of our trip in order to avoid the absolutely exorbitant long-term parking fees at the airport. We’d left it in the front yard with a request to drive it once a week or so to keep things in working order.

About a week before we got on a plane to return Stateside, we received a rather cryptic e-mail from R’s dad, asking for R to call as soon as possible because there were “issues to discuss.” Oh fuck. Not an e-mail you want to receive when you’re cell-less in a foreign country, staying in a hostel with no phone line. R got in touch with his dad from a payphone about a five minute walk from our hostel, which basically screwed him out of about $20 in equivalent currency for about two minutes of phone time. The two minutes he got essentially amounted to the phone equivalent of “oh hay your car was aflame everything’s fine kthanxsbye” while the meter showing him how much time he had left ticked down like something out of a bomb scene in an action movie.

We spent the remaining week away from home panicking and wondering what the fuck had happened. Naturally, once we were back in the country we decided to grill his poor mother* when she picked us up at the airport in the middle of the night (bless her) but no information was forthcoming. Finally, the next day, we got the answer: rats.

Apparently our request to drive the car once a week or so had been postponed – which I can’t really blame R’s dad for in the slightest, I mean he was letting us use his yard as a fucking parking lot – and, during the three or four weeks of complete stationariness (made up word, what of it), some rats had decided to make a fucking pine needle nest on top of the exhaust manifold. No big deal, until R’s dad decided to (generously) take our car into the shop for a quick once-over.

This is the point where people who have no idea what an exhaust manifold is (a category which included me until this little indecent) go “huh?” and people who do know what an exhaust manifold is go “oh, motherfucker, it survived?”

You see, the exhaust manifold is a part of the engine that collects the exhaust gasses which form when your engine is running. While I don’t precisely know what this means as I’m car-stupid,** the best I can explain it is a) that  means it drains all the fumes from the cylinders after they fire and b) it’s really, really fucking hot. Like, one of the hottest parts of your car hot. Set-a-rat’s-nest-aflame hot.*** Yeah.

Luckily for us, R’s dad rolled into the mechanic’s practically at the same time the car caught on fire and one of the mechanics happened to be crossing the parking lot with a fire extinguisher. So really, only some minor damage done, which R’s dad kindly took care of as he felt like complete shit about the whole thing.**** And yes, in spite of the damage, we drove the damned thing cross country two weeks later.

But I won’t pretend we didn’t jump at small, under-hood noises.

Editorial Notes:

If I’m not around, it’s because I’m a) working, b) filling out job applications, or c) watching copious amounts of Battlestar Galactica (I’m on season three, don’t fucking spoil it for me).***** Pick which one you think is more likely. (Hint: maybe not a or b.) Furthermore, note that I can almost forgive Stephanie Meyer for the existence of Twilight because it gave someone the opportunity to make this joke.

Although this has nothing to do with this post, I’d like to thank onwindydays for linking to one of my several posts about spam – you can check out his most ridiculous, nonsensical spam comment here. It is insanely long.

I’d also like to say a big thank you to Adrienne Schmadrienne over at Healthy Takeover for nominating me for the 7×7 Link. Though I’m not participating I greatly appreciate it. (Also, I personally love this post of hers, as someone who dealt with Tebowmania near-daily for four years.) Ah hell I throw one link out there: check out eggton, because she’s funny, her recipes look good and she has a super-cute dog. Thanks Adrienne!

I’d also like to take a moment to let you all know that I got tipped a chocolate bar at work the other day. What the fuck? I mean, I’ve been looking for an excuse to make chocolate chip cookies, but part of me could not help wondering if the bar had been poisoned. I think that’s years of my mom ranting about razor blades in Halloween candy rearing up. I get it from somewhere, people.

Lastly, that’s six (count ’em!) asterisked addenda. My personal challenge to myself to have as many of them as possible is going to make my posts walls of asterisks soon enough!

* One should note at this point that R’s parents have been divorced for nigh on two decades, so really what the fuck were we thinking?
** Any “typical female” jokes and swear to god I’ll sterilize you. Some goes for snide comments on anything I say about not giving a flying fuck about sports.
*** I also know some of you are probably wondering what happened to the rats. Well – I’ll just say you can probably figure that one out on your own cause it was a fire. Before you wonder why I’m not saying “oh, the poor creatures,” I like rats, I used to have pet rats, but frankly, those little nest-building assholes started it.
**** Nevermind that R was planning on getting into the car to go get some motor oil as soon as we got home, which would have resulted in the car catching on fire without a fire extinguisher handy. At this point, I almost consider it a favor from R’s dad.
***** So I know people talk a lot about how there are completely unrealistic physical expectations for women in mass media, and I totally agree, but can we just note that Apollo spends like one T.V. year putting on about thirty or forty pounds (er, actually an hour in makeup putting on bad prosthetics) and then all of two episodes going from flabby to ripped again? I know the actor himself didn’t gain the weight, but still: what’s up with that, Lee? You ‘roidin?******
****** Can we also talk about how all the Cylon women in BSG are really hot and all the Cylon men not at all? One is a ridden-hard-and-put-away-wet 70-year-old, two are just generic not terribly attractive dudes, and one looks like Kevin Spacey’s (more) evil twin. Not cool, BSG.