The Wong San Wheels Chronicle #10: Familiar like an old lover, but when it comes down to it, just another boring dude plucked off the street.

March 11th, 2009 → Leave a comment

I couldn’t take it. I broke down and got a car.

It’s a rental. I’m still not ready to OWN a car. Owning a car still nauseates me. Having an extra 2 tons of weight (or however the heck much a car weighs) to insure, fuel, repair, park and take care of… only to watch it burst into flames on the 405– no thanks. Yesterday while driving it, my heart stopped for a half second as I heard the all too familiar sound of a fire truck on the freeway and had to pull over so it could pass and reach a car on the side of the road.

I am only renting it until I leave town for April’s Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month (ie. Kristina’s “Asian Pacific Islander Nervous Breakdown Month”). Sadly, while a lot is going on in April, it still pales in comparison to some of my past awesome API Heritage months where I worked so much, that if the whole year was made of API Heritage Months, I’d be able to buy a small foreclosed house in Lancaster all on my own.

I’m renting this car from my friend’s father. It’s the extra car in their family. A 1997 Ford Taurus with 125K miles on it. They are giving me an amazing deal to use it these next few weeks. And I have a lot of driving to get in this month, including a short one day gig in the San Diego area. So I figured it was cheaper to rent a car from them and use it all month, than pay the equivalent amount to get a Zipcrap car for four days.

It’s a beater all right. It has a cracked windshield, big dents on the sides and for some reason, the body of the car is mostly tan but the front of the car and one of the rearview mirrors is navy blue– like two cars got fused together. But is is safer and drives much better than my Mercedes ever did.

It’s kinda of mindblowing to think, “Malibu! Crenshaw! Pasadena! I can drive anywhere! At anytime!” It’s oddly freeing to just know I have a car nearby and can conduct trips with dozens of impromptu stops if necessary. That I can drag heavy crap around if I really wanted.

But I definitely got sad as I was driving this rental. When I used to drive Harold (the pink vegetable oil car), I used to get awed looks, smiles and honks from other drivers and I’d be all cute and wink back at people and slowly (because Harold was slow) peel off like the pretend badass that I was. I felt like a counter-culture Los Angeles car celebrity (because I WAS thank you very much).

So as I drove around yesterday in this ridiculous two-toned Ford Taurus, and got looks, my first instinct was to wink back. But oh, I realized quickly… the looks weren’t because I was driving an awesome pink car that ran on vegetable oil with WONGSTA vanity plates… it was because I was driving a two-toned Ford Taurus.

WAAAAAHHH!!!! I can’t believe I have a luxury car driving ego! I used to never care about what kind of car I drove until Harold. I think this two-toned Ford Taurus, coupled with my age (and feeling very aware of how other people my age have big life markers like stock options, houses and families), and the ailing economy– they all make this beater rental car very humbling to my ego.

When I was a kid, my dad always insisted in keeping his car in immaculate condition because he would have to see clients in his car. I never understood why people cared what kind of car you drove. I always figured that as long as you got there, they should be happy to work with you. And at that, people never really see you pull up in your car. They see you minutes after you park it.

But now I get what car ego is. Because I even caught myself pricing out old Porches in the classifieds– I have been sneaking peaks at the classified looking for a sturdy and RELIABLE car that has the same beautiful irony as me owning a pink Mercedes.

I began to think of places where I used to love rolling up in Harold, and how I’d actually be embarrassed to show up at the same places in this two-toned Ford Taurus beater. I used to love rolling up in Harold outside the theaters I played in, at the CBS lot, in front of groups of cute boys. Even if things in my life were shitty, at least I could drive around in this stupid fancy looking pink car and create the awesome illusion of an eco-conscious rock star.

So imagine me yesterday, so humbled by this beater rental that I had to repeat this mantra to myself over and over as I drove this Tan and Navy monster down the 10: “I am not the car I drive. My self worth is not the car I drive. I am more than the car I drive.”

WAAAAAAHHH!!! Now I have to rely on my personality and smarts to intrigue people– WTF is that shit?!?

I realize, that me having a car ego may seem odd to you considering that I’ve been a car-less bag lady on the bus for the last six months. But there was a great temporary joy in saying, “Hey! I have no car! And this car-less thing is my great social experiment. Aren’t I awesomely indie? This is all research for a show!”

(What show? When? Can’t tell you. But! yes! There will be a show!)

This car thing is really beginning to resemble two things. My (non-existent)love life. And my relationship with Los Angeles. Two things that are tied so much to my emotional health and ego.

Just like how I am not owning a car right now, I also am not sure what to do with my (non-existent) love life or my residence in Los Angeles. Like owning a car, both love and Los Angeles are becoming elusive and unharness-able pains in my ass. And I’m feeling more and more like living without all of it for a good long time. I want to wander about the underground, letting the chaos of love and Los Angeles collapse on themselves, and I will emerge free and escape to New York where there’s quick love after every long island iced tea and a train going somewhere that runs at any hour of the night.

Blah blah blah. My neck hurts from riding my bike. I’m going to lie down now.

Category: The Wong Sans Wheels Chronicles

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