I was driving to work last week in my rusty, trusty MAZD (I think the "A" fell off somewhere in Lutz) when the odometer clicked past 192,000 miles. It made me feel warm inside thinking I'd soon be steering this 1998 champagne beauty over the 200K mark. It also made me feel warm inside because the AC in the MAZD — or what my daughter calls "Stinky Car" — is kaput. • Next to me, as always, was a satchel of new CDs. That's the drill, every day, to and from work: Keep popping discs into the player until I find magic. The MAZD, which I bought in 2003 for $3,500, doesn't have much going for it, but the stereo cranks, which is essential for a music critic. So I randomly grabbed the first CD that fateful morning: teeny-popper Kristinia DeBarge's Exposed album, featuring sugar-smacked hit single Goodbye. Kristinia is the 19-year-old daughter of James DeBarge, the '80s synth king guilty of Who's Holding Donna Now?
Assuming the cheese wouldn't fall far from the tree, I figured I'd have Kristinia in the stereo for a few harmless minutes, then I'd put in something much more masculine, more critic-y. I slid the CD into the player and . . . kraga-kraga-kragazzzt!!
The MAZD's stereo made a horrific grinding noise, a deathly gurgle — which, to be honest, was probably preferable to anything by Miss DeBarge. But alas, something had gone mechanically awry. I tried to eject Kristinia . . . nothing. Eject! Eject! You've got to be kidding me. Pause. Take a breath. EJECT! EJECT! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, EJECT!
I started sweating profusely (no air-conditioning!) and banging like a deranged maniac on the stereo (Stinky Car!). I was swerving all over I-275, hammering the dashboard, the console, the wheel, screaming to the heavens why the fates had smitten me.
It then dawned on me that someone would have to fix this, and that that someone would be pulling Kristinia DeBarge out of my player, and that that someone would mock the music critic until the music critic cried. Why couldn't I have been listening to Dylan or Motley Crue? Heck, I'd take Helen Reddy. But DeBarge?! That's like getting a porno stuck in your VCR — or, um, so I heard from, like, this guy once.
The love I once felt for the MAZD had instantly been replaced with a steady, panicked mantra: IneedanewcarIneedanewcarIneedanewcar. Who cares about 200,000 miles? Who cares about love and loyalty? I had a DeBarge problem, and it sure sounded fatal. I finally gave up, wiped a tsunami of sweat off my brow and tried to turn on the radio. There was nothing but static. That's when I remembered that the radio antenna snapped off my sad car a few weeks ago.
The MAZD is dead.
Long live the MAZD.