Debt

Debt: (n) something that is owed or that one is bound to pay to or perform for another

I am trying to determine if I remember if there was any measurable amount of sincerity in me at all.

I’m talking about that first moment, when I was nineteen years old and sat down in a car dealership to buy a five-hundred-dollar, old, beat-up van that formerly was used by the telephone company.

I was so anxious to get this vehicle that I probably would have sacrificed four days in heaven.

I know there was a salesman who was explaining payments, rates of interest—and also that the green-monster-wagon was being sold “As Is.”

I vaguely recall seeing his lips move as my glazed eyes peered over his shoulder at the prize.

I think maybe I was somewhat aware that since I put no money down, that my payments were going to be sixty dollars or so a month for the next year-and-a-half.

Yet I cannot swear to you that any awareness of these factors was actually registered by me, but instead, were later thrown up to me by the collection agency when it taunted me about my promise to make monthly payments.

I think there was a part of me that really thought I was going to try to make good on the debt.

I don’t know how.

I had no visible income.

I was negotiating my quarters and nickels to buy a pound of bologna a day with a loaf of bread and an apple.

I drove fifteen miles every other day to get free day-old doughnuts from my buddy who worked at the “Dunkin’ Something-or-Other.”

But there must have been some little piece of hopeful legitimacy that envisioned sixty dollars being made available for a monthly installment—even if I believed that a bird was going to fly it in from the Bank of Heaven.

Of course, it’s also possible that I was just an irresponsible teenager who couldn’t look beyond the temptation and couldn’t care less about my responsibilities.

Yet I sure do like that bird idea.

 

Citation

Citation: (n) a summons; a ticket

Back when I was very young and my genitals held the key to my life and my ego the key to my soul, I had a beat-up green van which originally was used by the telephone company. (That was back when we had telephone companies instead of cell providers.)

I bought this van, putting a considerable amount of work into it so I could begin my own musical group and insist that I was unable to
pursue gainful employment because I was on a mission to “make music.”

Driving along with my friends one day, we found ourselves in the midst of a huge argument. Frighteningly, I remember that it was about where we were going to eat lunch. Because we were young, the spat was volatile. Lots of yelling.

So I was entering with my green van onto a four-lane highway when I was struck by a car. My van was not hurt very much, but the gentleman’s car was pretty banged up on the side.

He expressed controlled anger, but insisted we call the police. I didn’t have insurance. In my state at that time, you weren’t required to have it–just considered an ugly troll if you didn’t.

When the policeman arrived, he listened to both stories and gave me a citation for “changing lanes without safety.”

Now I will tell you–I had no idea whether I changed lanes without safety or not. I was too busy arguing over the specifics of our luncheon plans. But I did make a decision to fight the ticket–to object to the citation.

I went to court. I was such an asshole.

When the policeman came forward to testify, his sketchy details did not compare to the tale I made up, which I convinced myself actually happened. I explained that I was already in the lane when I looked to my left and realized that the gentleman was changing lanes into me, striking my side. I even got one of the members of my group totally on board with the account, and she testified on my behalf (even though there was no window on that side of the van, where she could have seen.)

The judge didn’t know, the policeman didn’t know, and the gentleman did not show up for court since he had no citation.

The case was dismissed. I didn’t even have to pay court costs.

I remember walking out feeling very proud, but also somewhat aware that such shenanigans and half-truths would certainly eventually catch up with me.

 

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Antifreeze

dictionary with letter AAntifreeze (n): a liquid typically based on ethanol, which can be added to water in a car’s radiator, to prevent the engine from freezing.

 

Poverty promotes poor decisions.

Aside from the obvious dangers of starvation, eviction and financial humiliation, having little money often causes one to cut corners, which leads to dumping all of your existing treasure on the ground in a big heap.

When I was nineteen years old, I purchased an old green van which had originally been used by the telephone company. It was well-worn, but I was pleased to get it for $300.

Living in Ohio at the time, I was confronted with the perils of winter. One of those obstacles was the issue of “winterizing” your vehicle by adding antifreeze to make sure that you did not literally ice over and destroy your engine.

Well, here’s the problem. Antifreeze cost $2.99 a gallon, and I would be required to purchase two such units to take care of my vehicle. That was nearly six dollars–the equivalent of the food budget for my young wife and myself for three days.

I heard through the grapevine (which, by the way, is also inhabited by some nuts) that you could add rubbing alcohol to your radiator and protect it from the cold just as easily. Now, a bottle of alcohol was only twenty-nine cents, and I felt that three of them would be sufficient to provide me with the necessary coverage.

So I poured my alcohol in. A very cold Ohio night transpired, and I rose in the morning to start my van. I decided to peek in the radiator to see how my plan had worked.

It was frozen solid.

In my late adolescent mind, I figured that the best way to unfreeze my radiator was to start my engine and let the car warm itself up. (It made sense at the time.)

After starting my vehicle, I realized that I had cracked the block.

I discovered the reason for antifreeze. It performs a function. Its six-dollar price tag saves you from spending several hundred dollars repairing your engine.

It was a very expensive mistake, and one that I never repeated again.

Sometimes you swallow a little expense … so you don’t choke on a larger lump.

 

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix