Tag Archives: Freedom

My 1991 Dodge Stealth

As far back as my memories take me, I always wanted a car. When I got my first restaurant job at fourteen years old, the only thing that truly motivated me to work every Friday and Saturday night was the idea that, if I saved up enough money, I’d be able to make it happen, I’d somehow have enough to buy my own set of wheels.


It wasn’t just about buying a vehicle, it was the independence that came along with it. For the first two and a half years of high school, I was stuck riding the bus. I felt pathetic, standing at this random street corner in my Catholic school business casual dress code, waiting around in the cold with a bunch of upperclassmen from my town that were too cool to be caught interacting with me.

When I was a freshman, the juniors and seniors that rode the bus to school in the morning were anything but cool. They were a bunch of bullies. They’d make us play this game called red light. Basically, you start at the front of the bus and you have to run to the back, touch the red light near the emergency exit, and make it back to your seat, all while this group of sixteen and seventeen year old dweebs gave you dead arms and noogies.

I wanted nothing to do with any of that nonsense. And so I did it, I put enough money away that well before my seventeenth birthday came around, I had enough to buy my own car. There was this house a few blocks down with a red sports car parked in front marked with a “For Sale” sign. I needed it.

My dad came with me to do the negotiating. I found out that it was a 1991 Dodge Stealth, not that I’d ever heard of that model before going to check out this particular car. The seller and his wife gave us their pitch, there was some back-and-forth between the adults about prices and taxes and … to be honest, I have no idea what they were saying. I was just staring into the front seat, imagining myself shifting gears and outrunning cops on the highway. I knew it, that I was going to buy this car. I would have paid everything that I had.

This was all a few months before I was legally licensed to drive, so for a while I had to be content just to look at this thing in my parents’ driveway. I’d sit in the driver’s seat and listen to the radio. I bought a pair of black fuzzy dice for the rearview mirror. It was everything I’d ever wanted in life, right there.

And then I turned seventeen and I started driving to school, to work, to get McDonald’s, to buy CDs. But with great power comes great responsibility. Like the responsibility to start paying for repairs and stuff. After a month or so, one of the power windows died. So that was like two hundred bucks. And then the exhaust system needed to be replaced.

Then there was a little fender bender, and something about a radiator. I think I’ve forced myself to forget the specifics, because it started quickly eating away at my cash reserves. But it was just like at those initial negotiations. You could have quoted me whatever estimate you wanted for a jon, I didn’t care, OK, all I cared about was that car, and I would have paid anything.

Finally after a year or so of use, the transmission started to fade. When I shifted into third gear, it would make this really loud sound, and after a while I had to skip from second to fourth. Eventually the problem got worse and I had to take it in to a transmission shop. They quoted me over a thousand to replace the whole thing. That kind of hurt. I mean, I think I could have made it work. It would have taken maybe a little loan from my folks, but I’d just work extra shifts that summer, pay them back in no time.

But I never even got the chance, because that week I wound up rear-ending some guy, smashing up the front of the Stealth. I would have sold a kidney to pay for the repairs, but nobody was willing to bankroll both the accident and the transmission. There weren’t any options. I had to junk it. They gave me three hundred bucks and then charged me like a hundred to tow it away. I tried not to cry like a little baby.

But man, it took me a long time to get over that car. For the better part of the next decade, it was a very real goal of mine to resave up all of that money and buy another Stealth, the same model, the same year, I didn’t care what else life threw at me, I needed my Dodge Stealth. But yeah, saving up all of that money isn’t as easy when you’re not in high school. I didn’t feel like working every Friday or Saturday night anymore. And now I had other stuff to pay for.

I don’t even have a car now, and there aren’t any plans to buy one in the immediate future. If and when I do have the opportunity to buy something, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be a twenty-year-old two-door coupe. So yeah, for better or worse, I’m slightly more realistic now. And thankfully my soul doesn’t pine for the Stealth with the intensity that it used to.

Still, I’d be lying if I said that I never get those dreams every now and then, the ones where I’m back at my parents’ house and I remember that I didn’t junk my Stealth, that it’s been in the garage the whole time. I spend a frustrating five or ten minutes clearing boxes and other garage junk out of the way. I find the keys and squeeze into the front seat. And as soon as I turn the ignition, I wake up in my bed, the hairs on my arms are standing on end as my euphoria melts into the crushing disappointment that my Stealth is long gone, that I’ll probably never feel as cool as I did that year when I turned seventeen.

Just letting my mind wander a little

I get so bored sometimes. I’ve been staring at this computer screen for the better part of an hour just trying to think of something to write about. I don’t know where my ideas usually come from, but it’s just not happening today. I bought this ten dollar application for my computer called Freedom, and it totally blocks out the Internet for specified amount of time. I thought, this will be great, I won’t have any distractions, I’ll get all of my writing done a lot quicker.

But the writing isn’t coming out. And I don’t have anything to do now, because I shut off the Internet. And I planned it perfectly, so that it’s only going to come back on right as I have to leave for work. So I’m just sitting here at the kitchen table tapping my feet on the floor.

What else is there to do? Maybe the Internet’s not holding me back, maybe it allows my mind to wander, to stretch to an extent that I get creative. Maybe I’ll waste an hour clicking from link to link, but maybe that inspires some base part of the creative process. Or maybe I’m just going through Internet withdrawal right now and my brain is trying to come up with nonsense reasoning of why I should have never allowed myself to shut off the Internet in the first place.

I had three cups of coffee right before I sat down. So my leg’s tapping furiously against the chair, against the floor. I’ve gotten it to such a perfect pace that my entire thigh muscle is completely bouncing up and off the bone. It’s a weird feeling, and I can only keep it up for a little while before my foot starts sliding on the kitchen tile. I lose the rhythm, I have to pull my foot back and, try as I might, I can’t find those measured beats again.

Every day around two o’clock the sun starts pouring through the kitchen window, totally blinding me to the point where I can’t even see my computer screen. It’s been kind gloomy out lately, so I’ve gotten used to being able to sit down for an extended period of time without having to move across the room avoiding the sun’s direct rays. Now it’s just coming out sporadically.

Would you consider sporadic to be a big word? I try to avoid big words. Not because I don’t like them, or don’t understand them. Sure there are tons of big words that I don’t understand. I just feel like a lot of the time it’s a trick, a way to come across as intelligent without really being intelligent. There was this kid I worked with in high school, kind of a dick but whatever, when you’re in high school and you don’t have a car yet you kind of just hang out with whoever’s around. And I worked with this kid all the time.

And he always had a way of using unnecessarily long words in totally inappropriate situations. One time this kid made a joke to our boss, but it was a really shitty joke, and it didn’t get any sort of a reaction whatsoever. And so as my boss just stares at him, the kid says, “I was being facetious.” It looked like somebody was spending a little too much time prepping for the SATs.

Facetious. Give me a break. As I went through college, as I spent a lot of time writing and editing for our school’s newspaper, I found a bunch of words that people would use over and over again for the sake of sounding smart. Words that weren’t necessary, like facetious. You could just say that you were joking around. No, people liked to use facetious. Plethora. That’s another one. Copious. Whatever, they’re words, and so I guess you’re allowed to use them, but nobody talks like that in real life. It just sounds so contrived, or made up.

Sporadic. The only reason I feel like that’s an acceptable word is, one, because I already used it, and so I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite, but two, I learned it from the movie Clueless, where they’re all studying for the SATs. And they learn the word sporadic. And then the older brother says to that girl, “Be seeing you,” and she responds, “Hope not sporadically,” and they kind of wink at each other in that haha we just used the word we just learned about.

And the reason I remember this scene so well is because they played Clueless on HBO pretty much nonstop during the early 2000s. Whatever, if you didn’t have cable, or worse, if you had cable but no HBO, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. But if you had HBO, you know exactly what I’m talking about, and so, yeah, I think sporadic is totally appropriate. I’m not being facetious. I’m being super serial. (That’s not from Clueless, that’s from South Park.)