Bang The Car Slowly and Play The Fife Lowly

She was already four years old when she joined our family at the turn of the millennium. She carried us to dentist appointments, stage plays, and visits with friends.

When our dog Foxy’s suffering from cancer had become too severe to permit further delay, our 1996 Plymouth Neon transported the three of us at from Queens to the animal hospital in Manhattan at 3 AM for what we knew would be Foxy’s last car ride.

After Eddie’s and my move to Massachusetts the red Neon dutifully transported us back and forth many a time between our new digs in North Adams and Eddie’s sister’s home in New York City. In other words, she has served us well.

But over time her breakdowns became more frequent and the repair bills more daunting. The broken air conditioning and recalcitrant radio became the least of her ailments. Smoke poured unexpectedly out of inappropriate orifices, forcing inconvenient changes of travel plans. Persistent noises from somewhere in the Neon’s bowels spelled trouble, we knew. We’ve wanted to believe otherwise, but in our hearts we’ve known for a while that she was fast approaching the end of life’s roadway.

Today — stripped down to her barest automotive essentials and decorated with garish war paint that left her all but unrecognizable (but for the one tiny patch of her original paint job that could be discerned if you squinted hard at her roof) — she met her brutal yet somehow noble demise as a gladiator at the Adams Aggie Fair Demolition Derby.

She was Combatant #49. A jovial fellow named Travis was at her wheel. Travis is a mechanic at North Adams Tire & Service, the garage where, after too many repair jobs to remember, we were finally advised, "For god’s sake don’t waste any more money on this pile of junk!" Or words to that effect.

It’s not that easy to know how to dispose of a dead car around these parts, burial being beyond our means and cremation an environmental no-no. Fortunately Travis’s boss Dan, having grown VERY familiar with our Neon during the long arc of its decline, passed on word to us that his employee would be happy to take the heap off our hands. We learned as we signed the bill of sale in July that Travis was itching to strip down and repaint our mild-mannered Neon in preparation for the August 6 Aggie Fair competition.

Joining in the glorious clashing of willful, doomed chassis before a cheering crowd was to be our car’s last and greatest adventure.

Think of such destructo spectacles as a kind of anti-hospice for cars. With death being inevitable, let’s inflict as much pain as possible on the patient before the soul is released.

And as our society embraces ever higher degrees of mayhem for its amusement value, perhaps we’ll adopt the Demolition Derby model as our preferred form of euthenasia once our loved ones are pronounced terminal.

Let’s herd big flocks of our fragile grandmas and grandpas into arenas surrounded by bleachers so that we can all cheer as the old folks summon their last measures of energy to crash into one another until the last bone is broken and all but one lie dead on the playing field, their souls roaring up to heaven as if powered by petroleum.

Death won’t be painless but it will be quick, and quick isn’t chopped liver when your exit is near. Meanwhile, the last patient left breathing will win a prize: a nice closing note that should make everyone feel warm.

Our Neon didn’t win the prize today, but she did make it into the final round. Eddie was on hand to represent the family during her death throes.

I couldn’t go; I had to stay home and draw comic strips. But Eddie took snapshots.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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3 Responses to Bang The Car Slowly and Play The Fife Lowly

  1. Daniel says:

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article Bang The Car Slowly and Play The Fife Lowly, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

  2. mthomases says:

    There was that show with the fighting robots on Comedy Central. Got old fast. Now, maybe if it were crasing subway cars ….

  3. You should sell that idea as reality show. You’d make millions.