This little red warning light on my car dashboard keeps lighting up. For 10 years, this light has remained off, and I had hoped that, when it finally decided to speak up, it would give me a warning I could deal with, like "TRIM NASAL HAIR." But no, what this light says is: "TEMP."
I have tried to make it shut up, using all the standard repair techniques:
1. Waiting for Spontaneous Automotive Healing to take place.
2. Turning up the radio.
3. Driving real fast in the rain, a technique invented by the legendary auto mechanic Chuck Berry in his song "Maybellene," which goes:
"Rainwater blowin' all under my hood.
"Knew that was doin' my motor good."
But none of these actions made the light go out, and I am becoming concerned that my car is in its death throes, that it is saying "TEMP" only because it doesn't have a light that says "AAAACCCCKKK."
I would hate to have to give up this car. It is a Chevrolet Camaro, built right here in the U.S. of A. back in 1977, when Men were Men and American automobile manufacturers had not yet discovered the advanced engineering technique, developed by the Japanese, of attaching car parts permanently to the car.
My car was assembled by skilled workers using small wads of automotive-grade Juicy Fruit, the result being that within minutes after it was built, parts started falling off, similar to the way, in the remake of the movie "The Fly," the man who turns into the fly loses, one by one, various facial characteristics such as his ear, although this man, even at his least attractive, never reached the point where he looked as bad as my car does today. Virtually all of the interior parts have become detached, including, most recently, the ceiling, which is made of a black clothlike material that now drapes around my head as I drive down the interstate, making me look like a transvestite widow rushing to the funeral. I no longer go anywhere that has valet parking for fear that the valets will laugh and point.
But I love this car. I love it because I drive in Miami, Fla., the home of Offensive Driving; the city where, to pass your road test, you have to swerve across four traffic lanes to cut off an ambulance that is taking your mother to the hospital; the city where half the drivers never signal their turns, while the other half, as if to compensate, activate their left-turn signals as they leave the dealer's showroom and never, ever, turn them off, even in their garages; the city where short, elderly drivers feel compelled to purchase cars, usually Oldsmobiles that are the size of Lake Huron and that these drivers cannot see over the dashboards of, so that when you're driving behind them all you see are these HANDS clutching the wheel; the city where you share the streets with drivers from hundreds of different nations, each one obeying the traffic laws of his or her country of origin; the city where people signal their intent to merge with you by actually MERGING with you; the city where it is considered the height of motoring courtesy, if you see a helpless person standing next to a disabled vehicle, not to stop and rob this person.
This is no environment for a nice car. This is an environment for a car like my Camaro, which makes the automotive statement: "I don't care." And I don't. The second week I was down here, a Pepsi truck drove into me. It was my fault: I had thoughtlessly stopped at a red light, rather than accelerating through it at 178 miles per hour, as is the local custom. The driver got out of the truck with that look of great indignation that people get when they have driven into you, but before he could say anything, I said: "I don't care." And he skittered right back into his truck and drove off. Which was fine, because the last thing I want to do is take money away from the folks at Pepsi. I would rather they continue to give it to Michael Jackson, so he can continue to inspire us all with his visionary artistic quest of turning into Julie Andrews.
But I'm worried about this "TEMP" thing. I'm afraid it might have something to do with the engine, which is the object underneath that big metal door that the gas station attendant used to open up sometimes, back when there were gas station attendants. If it is the engine, I realize I'm going to have to do more than simply turn up the radio. I'm going to have to hang the litter bag so it covers up the red light.