the rental car




Only a few people know this story, (Ellen, Chrissie, Donnie, Hazel)—you know who you are. It’s very hard to tell, pathetic and embarrassing and brilliant. I smoked in a rental car, no smoking signs all over the place. I was the nasty who had the car before you and stunk it up. Not quite. I didn’t smoke in the car to be a scofflaw or rebel or disrespectful. I too, believe it or not, have an aversion to cigarette smelling cars. I understand how not courteous it is. I smoked in the rental car because I’m a cigarette junkie, and car smoking was my last stronghold. I loved/love smoking in a car—there’s no one to scold me, a comfortable seat, music, wind in your hair, ahh, freedom.

I tried to smoke respectfully in this car—windows open, fans blowing, my arm with smoke dangling far outside the car at most all times. But in a move of awkwardness, probably because I was trying so hard not to be awkward, and correct, even though I wasn’t anywhere close to correct, I hit the end of the cigarette on the window that was down but sticking up that annoying, inch or so. The burning tobacco fell to floor and made a nice little hole in the carpet before I could get to it. Fuck me. Fuck me royally. What the hell do I do now? Car jar, remember him? He would have a stroke.

I had no choice but to figure out how to repair it. It was my “make it work” (thank you, Tim Gunn) moment, combined with the ingenuity of mentor, Martha Stewart. I shaved rug with some backing from underneath the front seat with an exacto knife–right at one of those rug folds that are around the seat track. I trimmed the burnt fibers from the hole, put in a bit of crazy glue, added the rug cutting, secured, trimmed, brushed clean, awesome. But don’t think for one moment that I wasn’t scared shitless when that car went back to the dealer. They found nothing. Whew.

I apologize to anyone who ever got a smelly rental car. I promise, I will not smoke in a rental again. But addicts are so clever, don’t you think, so good at covering their tracks. Or so they think. Or so they know, said the junkie to herself.


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