|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Jan. 29, 2005 - 5:47 p.m.
Pretty In Pink
Hey, just because it's my birthday doesn't mean I want to alter my daily routine.
As it turned out though,whatever plans I had made were foiled because I wanted my car washed.
Officially, the silver color that Subaru sprayed onto my Mighty WRX is called "Platinum". It's very pretty. It looks...silvery, actually. But "platinum" has that panache that makes owners of less expensive cars feel like they're classier than they are. And I'm all for that.
And really, when Stanley is washed and waxed, he does tend to sparkle and gleam more than OTHER silver cars. No doubt because he's "platinum", not silver.
However, platinum, silver, blue, red, green, yellow, black, plaid or paisley, ALL cars turn the same color during winters in North Jersey: putty grey. The oceans of salt and sand they spread in a futile attempt to melt the mountains of ice all gets pulverized into a fine ash that becomes an aerosol covering everything venturing outside.
I hate putty grey. It is SO not Platinum.
Stanley has been putty grey for weeks now.
So for my birthday I thought I would treat Stanley to a long overdue shower. Normally I hate paying money to the grinning popsicles at the carwash since I know afterwards that 10 miles down the road the car is just gonna look like it sat through the Mt. St. Helens eruption. But for those 10 miles I would at least be happy with my Platinum WRX again, and dammit, that's what I wanted on my birthday.
I pulled into the HyperHose on Rt.23 and got out my six bucks. But...omigod!...a 4 mile rope of putty grey cars stretched out in front of me to the nearest bay. It looked like every car in Northern NJ was waiting for a wash! Were they ALL celebrating my birthday?
I really didn't want to wait for what looked like an hour just to get my car cleaned. NewWifey(tm) had called when my shift ended, hinting that all sorts of celebratory presents, foodstuffs and exotic sexual practices awaited once I arrived home.
Who would want to defer a promised debauch like that, even for an hour?
I pulled out of line and worked my way around the perimeter of the building, headed for the exit.
Halfway around the brick structure I spotted, in a separate area off to the side, the Self Wash Bays.
They were completely empty!
This was a suprise to me. New Jersey is America's Tightwad Central (lots of Sicilians), and most of us tightwads given the choice would rather take twice as long to get half the results, as long as it meant saving 2 dollars. So normally the Self Wash Bays are waaaay more crowded than the Full Service conveyor belts. I couldn't figure it out.
Until I got out of my car.
In the time that it took me to walk the 15 steps from Stanley to the coin machine both my fingers and my toes went numb.
People, it was 1 degree (f) out.
One. Degree. Without the windchill factored in.
I stepped out onto a sheet of frozen water/soap/wax/blood and teetered across the bay to insert my 16 quarters for 4 minutes. No 95% chance of hypothermia was gonna keep ME from saving 2 dollars, no sir!
I read the little instruction plaque - which advised a low pressure rinse after soaping, just like at home - and punched to button for "Soapy Scrub". There were three hoses hanging from the ceiling with different nozzle ends, and the one with the round brush started immediately rotating and spewing pink foam. I grabbed it and began to de-scale the WRX from the roof down.
It took longer than I thought. A lot longer. I had to tread very carefully because my work shoes provided a friction coefficient of exactly zero, and there was so much grey goo caked on every panel of the car that ridiculous amounts of force were needed to clear even the smallest patches of metal. But after 3 minutes I had managed to cover the entire car in a pink froth, so all that was needed in the last minute remaining on the timer was to rinse it off.
I skated back to the control panel and pressed "Low Pressure Rinse".
A trickle of murky water drizzled out of the next hose as I aimed it towards the roof. 50 seconds left on my quarters now, but I wasn't worried.
Until the water hit the pink suds and bounced off.
Seriously, the water spraying from the hose hit the pink soap suds and just ricochetted back into my face.
In the time it took (3 minutes) to scrub my car and walk back to the hose corral, the soap froth had harded into a solid barding of frozen pink armor. I kid you not, I took my numbed fist and hammered it against the driver's side window and all that happened was a few jagged pink shards shot back and stabbed me in the cheek.
The timer had wound down to 38 seconds.
I had no more quarters, and a frozen pink car!
As fast as I could I tip-toed across the ice back to the control panel, hit the "High Pressure Rinse (not recommended)" button, and braced myself.
"High Pressure" at these places means high pressure. I had to bace my butt up against an exit pillar so the force of the ejecting water didn't shoot me backwards on the ice right out of the bay.
At this point I realized that I would never be able to clear the entire car in time, so I concentrated on the most important part: the windshield.
It took all my strength, and all 27 seconds, to hold that blasting hose steady as a 150 psi jet of water shot up my front hood and blasted away sheets of pink ice from the glass. I didn't think it was going to work at first, because when the water first hit it bounced off just like the Low Pressure flow. But I gritted my teeth, held steady, and sure enough a few seconds later a small chink in the foam opened up, and then water got underneath. Once that initial breach was accomplished, large chunks of lumpy ice began shooting off the windshield and over the back of the car.
A little bell chimed and 150 psi dropped to nothing in the blink of an eye.
I had cleared the windshield.
The rest of the car still looked like a pink hedgehog.
Well, there was nothing I could do. I was out of quarters, and my hands were too numb to hold the hose any longer regardless. And needless to say, I was champing at the bit to get to home to my bacchanalia of presents and poon.
I had to sit in the parking lot for another fifteen minutes before pulling out onto Rt.23 though, since the water that shot the soap off the windshield had frozen up in its place. Finally the defroster worked its magic and I pulled my bright pink Mighty WRX into the northbound lanes.
Ten minutes later I pulled over onto the shoulder with an overheated car.
Overheated? In 1 degree weather??
But that's what the interior guage was telling me, and steam rising from the front of the hood added emphasis.
Back out onto the 1 degree tundra. I popped the hood and couldn't believe what I saw. My entire 2 litre engine was encased in ice! How the fuck was a 3 cubic foot ice cube overheating?
Well, the answer was actually obvious to me when I saw that 4 inch thick ice block sitting on top of the intercooler and intake manifold. The Subaru WRX has a hood scoop directly over the Top Mounted Intercooler, a device that cools down air going into the turbocharger.
When I decided earlier to shoot a 150psi stream of water at the front of my car, several gallons were forced into the hood scoop and solified on top of the engine. Which choked off the entire turbo heat regulating mechanism. Which in turn overheated the car. Which stopped the car.
So there I was, on my birthday, 30 miles from various illegal sexual positions, standing next to an overheated fuzzy pink car in 1 degree weather.
"Hi Birthday Boy! Coming home soon? I'm all ready for you!"
"What do you mean, 'maybe'? I've got porn on the DVD, the vibrator and strap-on are washed, the dog's been sedated and I'm covered in melted chocolate. What do you mean, 'maybe'!?"
"Stanley broke down. I stopped at the HyperHose and water got under the hood and froze over the intercooler, and now it's overheated. I don't know what to do...."
"Well you'd better do SOMETHING, mister, if you want to eat your birthday chocolate off a fur platter today!" *CLICK!*
I was miles from anywhere at that point, on a stretch of Rt.23 that winds through the woods of West Milford. There were no service stations, no diners where I could purchase 50 cups of coffee to pour on the intercooler, no car rental places.
I only had one option.
I stood up on Stanley's front bumper, used his hood to shield me from traffic as best I could, and unzipped my fly.
I peed on my intercooler.
Hey, it's gotta be at least 98 degrees, right?
It WAS 98 degrees when it left my body. But by the time it reached the block of ice 4 feet away, some of that yellow rope had already frozen and plink! plink! plinked! in tiny balls off the intercooler and down onto the block. The rest pooled up, thickened, and froze solid as a yellow stain on top of the other ice.
My mind, and body, were both empty.
"Hi baby. I peed on the engine, but it didn't melt the ice. I don't know what else to do. Can you come drive down here with a Thermos of hot water?"
". . . . . yeah, alright. Gimme a half hour to get all this chocolate off me. AND DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING ELSE."
I got back in the car and huddled up as best I could, playing cell phone Tetris for warmth. (I suck at Tetris. The frustration levels I reach generates impressive body heat.)
An hour or so later NewWifey(tm)'s bright red Ford Escape pulled up in front of me.
"Wh...why is Stanley PINK?" she asked.
"Never mind. I'll explain later. Did you bring the Thermos?"
"Yeah, here. But I don't think it's a good...."
I wasn't even listening. I unscrewed the top off the plaid bullet and poured a quart of near boiling water onto...well, onto my frozen pee.
A quarter size hole worked its way down through urine, ice, and finally to the intercooler. Then the quarter widened and within 20 seconds fully half the intercooler was visible. Woo hoo!
"Honey, it worked!"
NewWifey(tm) peered over the quarter panel.
"You'd better look again, champ."
I looked again.
In the time it took to turn to NewWifey(tm) and gloat, the boiling liquid had cooled down and formed a NEW sheath of ice where the old one had been. The intercooler is perfectly flat, see, and so the melted ice had not been able to runoff fast enough before freezing over again.
NewWifey(tm), of course, had fully anticipated that this would happen. She grabbed out the tow rope from the Escape and hooked it up. I stood and watched, too numb help.
"Get in." she said when she was done.
We crawled along the mountain passes to Dangerhouse at 20 mph, the Escape straining for all it was worth. But we made it. In the driveway she unhooked the tow rope and carefully positioned our bumpers together, pushing Stanley the rest of the way into the garage. There we flipped on the shop heater and let him thaw overnight.
The next morning I got up for work, went to the garage, and found I had a Platinum WRX again. He was sitting in a puddle of pink foam, but that was a darned sight better than the day before. I flipped off the heater and turned the key....
Yay!!! Stanley started!
I drove the 50 miles to work without a single problem, other than the very real, pervasive stench of urine permeating the car. My pee, when it melted, pooled onto the manifold and was now cooking right into the metal. It smelled like a New York City subway stop. Oh well, small price to pay for a working vehicle.
The drive home was uneventful also. But....
When I got out of the car, I saw that Stanley was again coated in a thick layer of road ash. I have a putty grey WRX. I give up.
I walked in the door, threw down my keys, and walked to the bedroom to change into my SpongeBob sweats.
And found a chocolate covered wife there!
...although I have to admit, my first impulse was to bring her to the Car Wash and spray all that goo off.
But I didn't. And so I had a happy, if belated, birthday.