Category Archives: Epic

The Hanson Project: Part 3: The Epic Conclusion

Hanson fans @ Toad’s

Sometimes, I get really inspired about a blog piece. I start writing enthusiastically and then… I get distracted. Something else comes up, and the further removed I get from the event, the harder it becomes to write. I have a half dozen such posts sitting unfinished, collecting e-dust in my drafts folder. My friends start harassing me about why it hasn’t been posted, but the more time that passes, the less likely it seems that they will ever be published.

Such is the case with this post, which I started over three months ago now. It would be really convenient to just never finish writing this, but alas, I am going to visit E and F this weekend and I fear that if I don’t publish it, they may bind and gag me save my fingers below the knuckles, toss me in the trunk of a car with a laptop, and not let me out until I’ve produced a worthy post on the matter. So to avoid that inevitability, here it goes…

A long time ago (October), in a galaxy far, far away (Connecticut), I went to a Hanson concert. You may remember from back before I fell of the face of the internet that I prepared for said concert by listening to all of their albums in chronological order and then making the sweetest t-shirts ever, at least until I made these epic Twilight shirts after which I really should have re-evaluated my life-choices.

Anyway, one October afternoon, I found myself climbing on a bus to New York. Six excruciating hours later, I was finally greeted by the scent of 33rd and 7th, a welcoming mix of mediocre pizza, stale urine, and cigarettes. E appeared, already sporting her “I

The beginning of the weekend passed in typical fashion–late night sushi, farmers market, eating, eating, and more eating–but then we got down to business. There were two more in our party so we slapped together shirts for them as well, including my all-time favorite thing I’ve ever made. I don’t have a good picture of the original, but I liked it so much that I’ve screen printed several copies since then:

I have made myself the companion t-shirt, “Sorry, I was watching Court TV”

If I ever open my Etsy store for secretly-embarrassing-yet-superficially-cool-looking t-shirts, this will be the first thing I sell. I love this design. Inspired by one of Hanson’s best-worst songs, “Man from Milwaukee,” this shirt is for the Hanson fan that doesn’t want anyone else to know they’re a Hanson fan, but is maybe ok with the world thinking they buy nonsensical graphic tees at Urban.

Attempting to harness the glow in the dark properties pre-concert. It was a fail.

After getting all gussied up with our TOMS, t-shirts, and glitter make-up that would have made our thirteen-year-old selves die from envy, we headed out for the concert. On the way, a girl stopped and asked directions to Toad’s in a state of urgent panic. “How did you know we were going to the Hanson concert?!” we asked in mock surprise. “Oh, I saw your shirt,” she replied without a hint of irony. Apparently Hanson fans are not good with the sarcasm.

What Hanson fans are good at is being scary. Once inside, we discovered the venue was already packed. This did not bother me, as I am always one to throw a few elbows and dance my way to the front of the crowd in about three seconds flat. But I only got us about five feet further into the fray before being utterly terrified by the death glares surrounding me and retreated back to our original corner. Alas, actually seeing Hanson in concert was apparently not on the agenda.

Full zoom, on my tip-toes. Bonus though: the crappy quality makes Zac look topless.

It didn’t matter, however, because as it turns out, Hanson is AWESOME in concert. Like, really, really good. They are so good that I strongly considered going to Northern Virginia (ew!) a week later to see them again (in the end, Hatred of NoVA > Love of Hanson concerts). I didn’t even mind Taylor’s whiny voice! Although, that’s 90% because it turns out that Taylor is our prettiest man.

I like your scarves, Tay.

Even their terrible old songs sound good. I know this because the gimmick of the “Musical Ride Tour” was that for each city, the audience voted online for Hanson to play one of their albums in full. New Haven was given the option of Middle of Nowhere, This Time Around, and Shout It Out. If you will remember from my extensive notes, I loved Shout It Out, hated This Time Around, and thought Middle of Nowhere was hilariously awful. But Middle of Nowhere was going to be my only shot at hearing “Man from Milwaukee” in concert, so I put all my eggs in that basket. Lucky, too, because we only won by four tenths of a percentage point. I was four tenths away from having to listen to this shit in concert.

Instead, I got the great pleasure of hearing all my favorite least favorite Hanson songs. “A Minute without You!” “Mmmbop!” “Yearbook!” Plus, they included some good ones from their current album, and the less noxious songs from the ones in between. And to my delight, they closed the concert with my personal favorite, “Man from Milwaukee.”

The best part about seeing “Man from Milwaukee” live is that, apparently, on the original CD, tracks 13-20 are blank. So in concert, it’s tradition that everyone counts up to the song:

Now, I cannot tell you why the good people of San Diego here are not properly enthused, because in New Haven, the crowd went APESHIT during the countdown. I tried to film it, but all you hear is high pitched shrieking like it’s 1964 and The Beatles just rode into town on a stallion called Ed Sullivan. I was totally party to this, which is why the camera is so shaky that I’m not even going to assault your eyes with the video I recorded.

After singing “With You in Your Dreams” as their encore (a bit of a letdown after the glory of “Man from Milwaukee”) we decided it was imperative that we get our hand-crafted Hanson shirts autographed. I do not have much experience with such matters; the closest I’ve come to getting an autograph from someone not at Disney World is groping Kim at the end of a Matt & Kim concert. Knowing that just a few weeks prior, my penpal had gotten Zac’s autograph on the shirt I’d made her, I sought her advice:

Find the tour bus afterwards. Put your hands on it for good fortune. With luck, a brother emerges.

Let me know if your mission is a success.

E eagerly awaits a brother’s appearance (Preferably Zac)

We loitered with at least a hundred other grown-ass women for at least a half an hour, while they tried to clear us out of the street. But Hanson refused to emerge. Finally, we accepted defeat:

Heartbroken, we left and went on with our lives. Normalcy returned with things like eating lots of food and E embarrassing herself horribly at a party. We thought our Hanson weekend was over, but we were so very, very wrong.

The next afternoon, E and I packed up and got a train back to New York. I noticed how incredibly slowly the train was moving when I realized how much I needed to pee and that there are no bathrooms on the MetroNorth to New York. Finally, the train stopped altogether.

After waiting at a standstill for at least a half hour, I checked twitter and discovered that a bridge was out. Finally, they pulled up to a train station in the Middle of Nowhere, Connecticut. This is the point in the story where E and I realized that we were living the lyrics of “Man from Milwaukee,” a song that was written when Hanson’s bus broke down in the middle of nowhere. The Middle of Nowhere.

It started at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere
Bus stop, train stop, potayto, potahto. We all piled of the train and stood pointlessly in the parking lot, not sure of our next course of action. E went to find a gas station across the street in search of a bathroom. I sat down on a wall with our luggage and waited for something to happen.
This was only the first wave…
Sitting beside me was a man with no hair
A balding man totally came and sat down next to me.
From the look on his face and the size of his toes
He comes from a place that nobody knows
I didn’t inspect his toes. But he was kind of weird and was carrying a big empty plastic storage bin.
Maybe I’m hallucinating, hyperventilating
Letting this big-toed bald man sitting here tell me about the sky
It was a really nice day. I think we commented on the weather, and how nice the clouds looked. E came back and took my place while I found the bathroom. In the meantime, she also befriended him. In fact, on my way back from the bathroom, he shouted “ALIX IS BACK!” Even though I’d never told him my name.
Maybe I’m hallucinating, hyperventilating
If you asked me now then I couldn’t tell you why
I’ve been sitting here too long by a man from Milwaukee
Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that our new friend was from Milwaukee. And we had definitely been sitting there way too long. It was looking more and more likely that I was going to miss my bus back to DC.
He’s been talking too long on his yellow walkie talkie
Cell phones are kind of like latter day walkie talkies, right? Cause he had one of those.
He’s been talking to Mars but I think he’s wacky
Technically it was his sister-in-law that he was talking to… Maybe her name was Mars? She’s apparently a very nice lady with twin infants and a minivan.
He says they’ll come get him, come get him some day
At this point, they were trying to cram hundreds of people on to a handful of city buses to get us to the next train station beyond the broken bridge. The possibility of escaping this Connecticut hell-hole was pretty grim, and we were looking for contingency plans. He was trying to con his sister-in-law in to coming to come pick him up, and us too if we so desired.
E continues her weekend pose of “standing next to buses she can’t get on to”
He says where he’s from is called Albertane
There they use more than 10% of the brain
But you couldn’t tell it from they way they behave
They run around in underwear and they never shave
He was not clean shaven, but happily, also not in his underwear. That would have been weird.
Or maybe I’m hallucinating, hyperventilating
Letting this big-toed bald man sitting here tell me about the sky
Maybe I’m hallucinating, hyperventilating
If you asked me now then I couldn’t tell you why

{Repeat Chorus}

This is Mother Bird calling Baby Bird
Baby Bird come in, come in Baby Bird

For the love of Pete come in!
This is Baby Bird…sorry I was watching Court TV
Do you copy? Do you copy?
Of course we copy…24 hours a day…in color

Nothing could ever make this spoken interlude applicable to real life.
You wouldn’t believe me if I told you the rest
Just as we were sold on hitching a ride with his sister-in-law, a bus appeared from nowhere and we forced our way on. We were deposited at another train station.
Never been so happy to be in South Norwalk
The man sitting by me who was barely dressed
Flew off to Milwaukee or perhaps Albertane
And left me at the bus stop just barely sane
After getting off the bus, the three of us sprinted onto the platform. And then we ran in opposite directions. Just like that, our new friend, with whom we’d share two bizarre but not unenjoyable hours, was gone from our lives forever.
I’ve been sitting here too long thinkin’ about Milwaukee
I’ve been talking too long on my yellow walkie talkie
I’m talking to Mars you may think I’m wacky
I know they’ll come get me, come get me someday
I know they’ll come get me and take me away
I know they’ll come get me, come get me someday
If not tomorrow then maybe today
Finally, we made it to New York with 13 minutes to spare before my bus left. Unfortunately, my bus left from Penn Station, and MetroNorth runs through Grand Central. We tried to get a cab, but none were to be had. Instead, we sprinted across town and made it to the bus stop just five minutes after it’s schedule departure.
And for the first time in the history of BoltBus, the bus had left on time.
In the standby line, E and I nearly got in a rumble with some bitch and her two hulking boyfriends, and I had to argue my way onto a bus to Baltimore instead of DC. Then I caught the last metro from Greenbelt. I suffered a near mental breakdown when I discovered that track maintenance on the green and yellow line meant the metro would leave me stranded in Petworth, land of no taxis, but I managed to catch the last shuttle bus home. In the end, I think it took me 11 hours to get from F’s apartment in New Haven to my front door, a trip that should really take no more than 7 or 8, max. But it was totally worth it to really live the Hanson experience. Now I can wear my “Sorry I was watching court TV” walkie talkie shirt with real Fanson pride!
Just kidding. I will never be a Fanson. Those people are insane.

Меня зовут Эмма

Unnecessarily fancy hallway
at the LoC

Hello friends! Have you missed my witty jokes and poignant writing over the past two months, when I seemingly fell off the face of the virtual earth? Of course you have! I promise I’ll be better now. As I mentioned before, I started a new job, and my commute got cut in half so now I am living under the (false) impression that I can go out socializing every night after work it’s difficult to adjust to a new schedule and workload! But I am too poor to continue this pattern finally beginning to become acclimated, so I should be back to my writing in no time!

Coincidentally, my dear friend Bright Contradiction also just started working at my new place of employment. Now we spend 8 hours a day together being thoroughly confused about our jobs, attempting to translate things in to French (mauvaise idée), and delighting over the triumph of opening two separate excel files in adjacent monitors (harder than than you think). We see each other allllll the time. So as I was preparing for Friday night via email yesterday, I was surprised to hear K say she already had plans with BC and BC’s boyfriend.

Me: What are you doing tonight with K?
BC: We’re going to this Russian thing. Want to come?
Me: Oh, I wasn’t angling for an invitation. I just kind of expect to know every detail of your life now, and was really surprised that you were hanging out with my roommate and I didn’t know about it.
BC: I know the feeling.

So I went on about my day, until lunch when BC mentioned the magical words “open bar.” And then I quickly decided that yes, I would like to angle for an invitation after all.

Following work, we hopped on the metro and met up with BCBF at the Library of Congress, which should have been my first indicator that I was not fancy enough for this affair. Actually, my first indicator should have been that the event was invitation only and I was to be spending the evening as Emma Templeton, a friend of BCBF’s who couldn’t make it. Then my next indicator should have been that it was held at the Library of Congress, and finally the collection of uniformed valet attendants waiting at the entrance should have been my last warning that I should turn around and go home. But I blazed ahead and picked my name badge at registration.

Totally my fake name from now on. It’s a great name.

Let me paint a picture for you. Yesterday was Friday. Casual Friday. I was wearing ballet flats and slightly-too-big jeans that spent the evening in a perpetual state of falling down, since I recently lost my only functional belt in the squalid pile of unwashed laundry covering my bedroom floor. On top, I had a lightly stained short-sleeved cardigan paired with a pink silk shirt featuring an assortment of holes. My hair was pulled into a messy french braid after not having washed it since Wednesday, when I got caught in a torrential downpour.

Everyone else… was wearing cocktail dresses and suits. Or in a couple instances, full on evening gowns and tuxedos. Even BC looked slightly underdressed, and she was sporting actual business wear as the invitation requested. I was literally the least appropriately attired person there. For someone that normally overdresses* for everything, this was extra embarrassing. K took the opportunity to make jokes at my expense, sneaking up behind me and saying things like, “Ma’am? The Library of Congress closed several hours ago for a private event. I can show you to the exit now.”

*No really. Earlier this month I ruined my favorite cocktail dress running to the train after a US Open match, where I’d worn it on the off chance that we might go out somewhere afterwards requiring a cocktail dress.

No matter. After clamping my new identity to my wrinkled shirt (Emma is so lazy with her clothes!), we went upstairs to some sort of gorgeous, columned atrium filled with fancy food and beverages. We loading up our plates and headed to the bar, which only served top-shelf booze. As I started in on my first glass of (really good) champagne, BC snagged a table for us.

Sometimes, you go to a really cool event, and you think “wow, this is awesome and classy!” and you have a fabulous night that you remember fondly for ages to come. And then sometimes, there is a turning point, from which everything happening subsequently is increasingly preposterous. And that night becomes not just a fond memory, but an epic story that you feel the need to share with everyone you know. Yesterday, that turning point came in the form of a septuagenerian Republican National Committee employee who decided to join us at our table.

RNC was… a character. Every conversation he started was carefully crafted to be as controversy-provoking as possible. “So how do you feel about Putin replacing Medvedev?” “You are all very clean cut. I like that. What do you think about TATTOOS?”  All the while, he kept staring at me with a level of intensity that did not make me strictly comfortable. BCBF said it best. “Every cocktail party needs a creepy old dude. And he found us!”

Finally, K arrived (someone had gotten the memo to go home and change first) and BC and I made our escape to refill our champagne glasses. The rest of dinner progressed in the same fashion, with BC, BCBF, K and I constantly rotating out for more food and champagne at any opportunity of freedom.


RNC: I HATE tattoos! I think they are awful! The only exception is that I read about some military men who got the names of their fallen company members tattooed on their arm. I think that sounds real sweet.

RNC (to K): Your eyes are so nice! I want to steal them.

RNC: Are you Jewish, Emma?
Me: Uh… no?
RNC: Isn’t Templeton a Jewish name?
Me: No.

RNC: I’ve never met so many liberals in my life!

RNC: Where are you from, Emma?
Me: South Carolina.
RNC: Oh really? That’s nice. You know, it’s amazing that the confederates did as well as they did during the Civil War. They were really at a disadvantage, but they did well anyway. A lot more confederate women came out to be nurses for their soldiers than in the North, which is real nice.

RNC: You seem really good, Emma. But I guess I’m inclined to think that anyone who looks good is good.

By the end of the hour, we’d made our way through 3-5 glasses of champagne each and BCBF had engaged in a confusing conversation with RNC about contraltos and Amy Winehouse.

Luckily, it was time for a film screening. We processed downstairs to a fancy hallway lined with snack tables and men who looked like bellhops from 1925 (even the bellhops were better dressed than me!). The tables were filled with popcorn, movie snacks like Raisnettes and Junior Mints, and little bags of chocolates. We filed into a fancy theater and listened to Important People talk, such as the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington (want that job title!) and the Russian Ambassador to the US. We made our way through the movie snacks, including some truly bad Russian chocolate bars (“blueberry cream souffée”). The movie started and it was pretty great, excepting a couple of egregious and disturbing instances of blackface.

Afterwards, the Important People invited us back upstairs where would find dessert, two jazz concerts, access to the reading room, and a “surprise.”

My money was on the surprise being a vodka fountain. It wasn’t.

Lost opportunity: combination Vodka Fountain Ice Luge Kremlin.

Yeah, that’s a FUCKING ICE KREMLIN. Sorry for the language, but a GIANT ICE SCULPTURE OF THE KREMLIN IN THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS deserves some expletives. When you walk into a room and the first thing everyone notices is not the fully-staffed ice cream bar or the tables full of pastries, you know it’s got to be something amazing you’re witnessing instead.

After getting over the shock of the Ice Kremlin, we tried to eat everything in sight. Unfortunately, after gorging on terrible Russian chocolates and popcorn, none of us had much stomach real estate left. We had to move on to the reading room. Prior to this point, we hadn’t taken any pictures because it was the kind of event where you only take pictures if you are a member of the press toting a very expensive camera. But the Ice Kremlin was kind of a game changer, and suddenly everyone at the reception had their phones out.

Posing like the statues up high. Appropriate use of the LoC Reading Room.

Finally, we made our way to another fancy hallway, entered another fancy room, and listened to some very nice jazz music. I was pleased to spot another party-goer wearing jeans and chucks, but even he had on a blazer.

Oh well. If I had been appropriately dressed, I think my head might have exploded from awesome overload.

“Soooo, we’re doing this every Friday night now, right?”


Epic Road Trip

Worst Rest Area Ever.
As I write this, I’m on a bus to New York, pulling out of the worst rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike—James Fenimore Cooper. I know it’s the worst one not because I can’t imagine there’s anything worse, but because I’ve been to all of the other ones. This is a route I know well because since moving to DC, I’ve spent a lot of time on buses or in cars traveling the east coast to NY or CT, and let me tell you, no matter what James Fenimore Cooper may have done in history (no really, what did he do? I’ve looked it up like seven times now and always promptly forget. The only thing I know about him is that I read a really douchey quote from him once en route to CT), he does not deserve this legacy. Pretty much every other rest area at least merits a Starbucks. Our friend James, however, gets little more than a Burger King, a shitty convenience store, and a Cinnabon that’s almost always closed by the time we roll into the rest stop around 10pm. In fact, the only thing noteworthy about James Fenimore Cooper is that it’s located the exact distance between DC and New York that I have to pee really badly, and so no matter how much I’d like to avoid it, I almost invariable end up stopping there.

Thanks to a very memorable trip two years ago–one of the first times I traveled this NY to DC route, in fact–the New Jersey Turnpike holds a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, that place is heavily diseased, probably with a clot or something. I hate the New Jersey Turnpike, y’all. And this is the epic story explaining why.

Sometime at the end of college, K, L and I decided we were all going to move in together (not a very original idea, as we’d been doing that for four years already) after graduation down in DC. We needed a place to live, however, and so K and I Craigslisted it up and found some suitable places to sublet for the summer while we figured out what the hell we were doing with our lives. K and I prepared to drive down to DC to check them out. L wasn’t available to come (don’t remember but she probably had cool places to be), but we needed to drop off our soon-to-be-former roommate KLin in NY on the way so she could move out some stuff at her sister’s. I usually play DJ on road trips, so I loaded up an iPod with the challenge of finding music that all three of us could tolerate, and we headed out in K’s Chevy Malibu.

The first half of the trip went splendidly. We left Boston singing along to my playlist of mostly Britney Spears (so much that K pretty much refused to listen to Britney Spears for the next year; if our three musical tastes were laid out in a Venn diagram, the mutual overlap would be alarmingly small), laughed, missed all the traffic, and had a generally awesome time. And then the amazing happened. We got to KLin’s sisters apartment, where we were staying for the night, and there was a parking space. Directly in front of the door. In Manhattan. At night time. When people tend to park their cars. When we had a trunk full of KLin’s shit to unload. It was like the traffic Gods shone down upon us, bestowing us with golden car karma.

The next morning, we had to drop KLin off at the bus on the other end of Manhattan so she could go back to Boston. We were almost there when a voice from the back seat cried “SHIT I forgot my phone we have to go back!” Unfortunately, we had no idea how to do that. Our Mapquest instructions did not tell us how to go back to get an abandoned phone, and without said phone, we had no GPS. K, if you’ll remember, has the worst sense of direction in the world, and we had to navigate our way back with our wits alone. But miraculously, we did not get lost. And even more amazingly, there was no one else on the road, and we didn’t hit a single red light. I will forever associate New York with driving down an empty street, watching the lights change to green for us one right after another. I’m guessing no one else in the world will share this association with me, except maybe K. This was turning into the Best. Roadtrip. Ever.

However, the universe noticed that we were enjoying far more than our share of good car karma, and our luck was about to change.

Phone in hand, we tried again to drop KLin off at the bus in Chinatown. But this time, something went awry. We took a wrong turn, and suddenly we were on the Brooklyn Bridge. This, we knew was bad, and we manage to turn around and get back on in the other direction. But as soon was we got back to Manhattan, we didn’t know where we were. We asked KLin to turn on her iPhone and tell us where we were. While stopped at a stoplight just off the Brooklyn Bridge, the following conversation actually happened:

Me: KLin, are we go north or south?
KLin: We’re stationary.
K: KLin that is not helpful. Can you see where we need to turn?
KLin: Yeah. You need to take a left at the yellow road.
K: KLin, is the road actually yellow?
KLin: Oh, I guess not. No.

Somehow we made it to the bus stop; I must have commandeered the iPhone from KLin. After we dropped her off, we got back en route and made our way to the New Jersey Turnpike. We pulled into the first rest area (Alexander Hamilton!) to grab some necessary breakfast items and then continued on our way.

Just outside of Delaware, disaster struck. I needed to pee, and while I was whining, K spilled Starbucks all over her pants. I use the term pants loosely, because they were actually ill-fitting, vaguely transparent pajama shorts. She pulled over to the shoulder to mop up the mess, and while we were driving back onto the Turnpike, the oil light came on. The car instantly stopped accelerating. We pulled back onto the shoulder and turned on the emergency lights. We checked the oil, and it was really, really low. I called my dad to see how long we needed to wait before adding more oil (you don’t, apparently), but as I was on the phone, I notice a large, black puddle seeping from under the car.  This was very, very bad.

We called AAA. Fun fact: AAA cannot tow off the New Jersey Turnpike.  Only special companies can tow you off the New Jersey Turnpike. They tow you just off the Turnpike, where a AAA towing company can pick you up and tow you to a mechanic. We finally got in touch with the New Jersey Turnpike Towing People, and they said someone would be there in twenty minutes. Which was a lie.

Meanwhile, I still really had to pee. I would have gone into the woods next to us, except that there was a sharp drop off from the side of the road that also looked like it was covered in poison ivy. The worst part? We were exactly one mile from the last rest area of the New Jersey Turnpike, Clara Barton. I know this, because we were stopped directly in front of the sign declaring it so. That sign taunted me in my misery for a full hour before the tow truck guy showed up.

Do not go here. There is nothing for you.

We got towed to a parking lot in a place called Carneys Point, New Jersey. After securing a bathroom, we figured out our next strategy. Terrified we would be forced to spend the night somewhere called Carneys Point, we had to do something. Apparently, K’s AAA membership covered 100 miles towing. As it happened, we were exactly 112 miles from DC. We decided our best option was to get towed to a mechanic in DC. K’s family friend gave us the name of a taxi mechanic, and we had a plan.

An hour or so later, our second tow truck showed up. As they were not prepared to drive us the 112 miles to DC right then, we got taken to a mechanic in the next town over, Penns Grove, where we were to wait for another indefinite period of time. Defeated, and with nothing better to do, we sat on a bench outside and stared into space for about three hours. Then, the owner of the mechanic shop was finally ready to tow us to DC. Since we no longer had a car, we had to sit in the cab of the tow truck with this man, who was exactly like Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, except not remotely as cool. In fact, the only way he was like him was his tendency to ramble incoherently about his past wives and lifestyles.

For the next four hours (traffic was really bad), we got to hear Mr. Cogburn’s life story. I no longer remember all the details, but I do know that he’d had three wives. I think one marriage ended in infidelity, another one ended during his period of experimentation and drug use during the 80s. Then he got into drag racing, which he still does. His car was featured on some drag racing TV show. K left most of the conversing up to me, but luckily, I think Mr. Cogburn could carry on a conversation with a corpse. We covered gear boxes, suspension, and pretty much anything I could think of from a dozen seasons of Top Gear; at one point, he called his friend and had me chat on the phone to him about NASCAR, despite the fact that I never have nor will be a NASCAR fan. It was a very long and bizarre four hours.

Finally, we made it to the taxi mechanic in DC. K’s family friend (who does not drive a taxi, but rather the same model of car that most taxis are made from) met us there. We said goodbye to Mr. Cogburn.  We got all the necessities out of the car. Unfortunately, one of these necessities was a bottle of wine, which I dropped on the concrete floor and shattered everywhere. The mechanic took a look underneath the car and knew right away what was wrong with it.

Whomever had previously changed the oil had installed the wrong size oil filter. The filter had been getting looser and looser, until one day, in a burst of pressure caused from the acceleration back onto the New Jersey Turnpike, the oil filter had fallen out. With it went all the oil. With no oil to lubricate the engine, friction between the cylinders and the pistons cause the engine to overheat, the pistons to expand, and the engine to seize up. In short, the car was quite dead.

Family Friend took us to dinner and dropped us off at our friends house in Columbia Heights. We went to look at our first apartment, and decided to take it then and there. We then spent the rest of the weekend depressed and defeated. We went to the movies and saw the next thing playing, which was Angels and Demons. It was not very good.

We took the Chinatown bus back to NY, and then another Chinatown bus back to Boston. I tried to convince K that at least this would all make a good story one day, but she was not convinced.