Club Protege’s in the house, yo.

(Dad, you probably don’t want to read this one.)

I’ve discussed my problems with my car before, but to be honest, I’ve never really showed you the way I treat my car. I suppose my car has all of its ticks and quirks in response to my total apathy towards its appearance.

It looks so unassuming from outside. You can hardly even tell how dirty it is here. If you look closely, you’ll see that the driver’s side mirror is cracked in half. I did that in the summer of 1998. I was driving to work and tried to adjust the mirror. The hand crank had long stopped working, and you had to move the mirror with your hand. I swear, all I did was touch it, just barely touch the glass and … ping! Totally snapped in half. I swear, I hardly touched it at all. In anger, I let it sit there and think about what it had done.

It never seemed to fix itself. I took it into a Hi-Lo place and they didn’t know how to replace the mirror. I decided to just crank my head around to check my blind spot from now on. I figure it’s safer.

There isn’t a Mazda Protege that has its front right hubcap. I swear. There was a time when I parallel parked between two other black Proteges and all three of us had the missing hubcap. We laughed and then promised never to speak of it again. I guess I just broke that promise. In any event, this hubcap snapped off on my second set of tires (I’m on the fourth set, for those of you keeping count), and I just never bothered to get it replaced because…well, I’m angry about it. Axles break and the brake pads have to get replaced like, oh, every few months. It’s annoying. That’s my car.

The windshield. It’s constantly been a struggle for me to not just cover the car in wacky bumper stickers. I have the tasteful UT sticker, here, which is actually more of a colorform on the inside of the car. The green circle that you can see used to be a parking permit for an old boyfriend’s apartment complex. They’d tow the car if you didn’t put their sticker on your car. They promised it would peel off. They also promised to return the deposit. They said lots of things. When the boyfriend went away and the car left that lot I couldn’t remove the sticker. That and it was caked on from the insane Austin Summer heat. So, I placed the ultra-cool Kitty sticker over it. That worked for three weeks. Then the crazy Austin Summer heat melted the Kitty sticker right onto the old green sticker. Basically I have a Kitty sticker that looks like a Scooby Doo monster. Sigh.

You know, from this angle, you can’t even tell that the inside of my car is a total disaster zone. You have to Look Closer. This is how I retaliate against my car. I’ve given up on any sort of cleaning. When the car’s lighter stopped working (it’s stuck to the inside of the car and if you pull on it, you yank out wires and spark plugs and Very Messy Things), I installed a set of Red Bull Ashtrays, which work out very nicely for long trips. The Spice Girls sticker on them is a new addition, and one that makes it nicely “kitchy,” I believe. It looks like the dashboard is hazy from the sun. It’s not. That’s dust. The car is actually black inside. I know, I know, I’m disgusting. It’s how I get through the day. From the backseat here you cannot tell all of the lovely things I hide inside the sun visor, or the other things I have hidden deep inside the glove compartment. You also cannot tell the piles of broken electronic equipment I shove under the seats as theft deterrents. There are two broken CD players and a broken Radar detector. I hope that if the car gets broken into they’ll just bust out with the electronics and run before they break anything. That and if they steal my Weezer tape, I would cry.

There’s a better shot of the Spice Girls Red Bull ashtray. You’re also starting to see the car from my view. To the left, on the floor, is the first of… I don’t know… fifty parking permits, receipts and cards. Note the shoddy tape deck. You can’t see the speakers here, but just assume that I’m basically listening to a boom box from 1987. Don’t bother straining to see the right side, here. I’ve got a better angle…

Yeah. That’s all from SXSW. I’m that disgusting. I’m holding on to memories of free time and frolic. The dark stains are from when I drove home yesterday with a vase of flowers (a gift from work). I stopped short and they dumped over in the front seat. (Note the cassette adapter for the broken CD player as a teaser just out from under the seat. I’m that good.)

I do find it appalling that there’s a cigarette butt on the floor there, but I remember that I never actually lit that cigarette, and rather threw it in a gleeful moment. So, you know, it’s a good memory.

The Ozarka bottle is actually from 1998. I just keep moving it from the front seat to the back.

I actually make people sit over there and get angry when they step on my stuff. I’m disgusting.

This is behind me, if you’re sitting in my backseat. I actually expect you to sit there and not complain. I’m that much of an asshole.

Okay, the shoes are there from when I did a show… oh yeah, Polaroid Stories. The rehearsals. That means those Docs have been in my backseat since September of 1999.

There are two Tigger toys back there. Both were gifts.

I have no idea how many water bottles are actually back there.

I wondered where that purple sweater was.

That silver thing is a coffee thermos that I thought would be a good idea one morning when I entertained the idea of drinking coffee on my way to work. I think I put the sippy lid on incorrectly and I spilled it down the front of my shirt. I threw the thermos in the back and I haven’t touched it since. I want it to think about what it did.

See that blue flowery thing by the shoe? That’s a dress. I believe I have that dress back there from when we were working on the BS4 show and we were doing a sketch where I was a “lady.” We cut that sketch weeks before we did the show. That means it’s been there since… March of 1999. I’m disgusting.

The actor’s life is never tidy. The program is from the show Eric and I did in the Spring of 1999. The baby carriage is from the October Aspen Audition. Underneath is a Beatles poster from my old office. Last summer. The visor was purchased when I was in high school. I think that’s the last time I used it. I didn’t know I had antifreeze in the car. This is my trunk. Now you know why I never go grocery shopping.

I’d like to say that people understand why I treat my car this way. That they get so upset with the expense of keeping my car clean that they throw things around and encourage the current level of nastiness. They don’t. It’s the smell. My car smells. I’m disgusting. It’s so bad that I do believe I may very well get a car-cleaning for Birthday Week.

But you know what? This is my car. It was my first symbol of freedom. A tool of freedom. It still is. It’s a place that’s just mine and I have some of my most quiet and inspirational moments in my car. I’ve traveled across Texas in it. I’ve sang at the top of my lungs. I’ve cried until I lost my voice. I’ve laughed until I had to pull over. I’ve picked up close friends and dropped other best friends off forever. I’ve had lunches, dinners, breakfasts, break-ups, hook-ups, and phone calls in my car. I’ve listened to hours and hours of music. It’s my car, and it’s been with me for the past seven years. I do get angry at it and I dream of having a new car every once in a while, but I’d miss this car quite a bit if it was gone. It knows me. It knows how I drive. It has never left me stranded on the side of the road. We’ve never been in an accident (knock on wood). We’re a messy gross team. I like my car.

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