This happened way back in 1990. Way back in the days of non-annoying swing, Frank Sinatra, Packards, and World War II. Another generation, another war.


Day 15

Rory Hearse Hertzfeld

It was day 15 of our trip, and we were in Southern Louisiana. Rory and I hated each other, Steve just tried to stay out of it.

It sounded good on paper. Rory Hearse and I would spend a month or so driving across the country in my VW Thing. I'd pick her up at her mother's in Salt Lake City, we'd hit Vegas--maybe get hitched for the sake of being married--then play the rest by ear until we hit Graceland. I asked my friend Steve if he wanted to go along for the ride, and he said sure, what the hell.

My grandfather took me aside before Steve and I left and said, "Don't forget to bring along a mess of henskins. You don't want to knock that girl up." Fat chance of that--within days, Rory and I were at each others' throats.

My car ran like hell, when it did run. The Germans almost took over the world twice this century, but they couldn't design a reliable car. I bet they lost the war when they switched from using BMW engines in their Panzers, and started running them with Volkswagens. And there we were, driving cross country in the civilian version of the German jeep. If it wasn't for Volkswagens, we'd all be speaking German.

We were sitting on the side of Interstate 10 about 45 miles from the next big town. The Thing ran only to strand us. It broke down before Nevada. Then as we left Salt Lake City it died again. It took two days, fifty bucks, and a new fuel pump later, to leave Salt Lake City. The top flew up on the freeway and almost killed us before we made the city limits. The next day in Nevada, it's spewing oil. We limp to Phoenix and pay to get it fixed. It breaks down in New Mexico and runs poorly throughout Texas. And there we were. Sitting on the side of the road in Louisiana.

I pulled some stuff off the engine and peered into the carburetor. I swore at it. Made some personal remarks about its mother, then cursed Der Fatherland and the French for goading them into a war where they designed this car. The extent of my mechanical knowledge. We sat and watched cops pull cars over on both sides of the interstate, but not ask if we need help. After nearly an hour and half, the car started. That was the only good thing. It'd break down, but restart after a while.

Page 2, of Day 15

Page 3, of Day 15

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