Customer 1: [inhaling deeply] “Mmmm, the fresh, clean aroma of leather.”
Customer 2: “YES! THAT NEW CAR CROTCH SMELL.”
In related news, I got a car. Or a car got me. One of those.
My previous vehicle, an incontinent but plucky Toyota RAV4 named Nicky the Wicked Bad Boy, tragically drowned during Hurricane Harvey. However, a week before the storm hit, my (biological, non-Misfit) brother called from Boston to say that he and his wife were about to get a new car and wanted to gift their old Hyundai Santa Fe to me. So basically, the hurricane crossed “figure out how to dispose of a jalopy with no trade-in value” off my to-do list.
Relocating the car from Boston to Houston proved challenging. Originally, I planned to fly to Boston and drive the car back to Texas, thus having an adventure, but then my brother was all, “We know someone who owns a car shipping business, and he’s going to load it up and have it hauled down to you.” A few months passed, my family not being famous for promptness or urgency, and then my brother called and was like, “So we hired someone to drive it down, and it’s only going to cost eleventy-thousand times more than it would’ve for you to fly up here in the first place! You can pay that, right? Also, we don’t know where the title is.”
In spite of my brother’s helpful efforts, the car finally arrived, and… okay, let me express some gratitude here. This was a wonderful thing for my brother to do, and utterly selfless on his part, and I have thanked him profusely and repeatedly, and this totally saves me from having to keep borrowing my dad’s truck with the big NRA sticker on the back, and with all the indebtedness with which I am awash aside…
You guys. This is the ugliest damn car I’ve ever seen in my life.
My brother mentioned the car was gray, and it does have grayish undertones, but it’s also faintly green — an unsettling blend of olive drab and sea foam. According to the owner’s manual, it’s “natural khaki,” but if asked to classify the color without reference, I’d go with “goofer dust.” The interior is mainly tan, with unexpected navy blue and faux wood accents, which, when combined with the color of the chassis, makes me feel like I’m tooling around in a peat bog. The car does drive well, although as soon as I got out in traffic, people started tailgating me and swerving in front of me and generally trying to run me off the road. At first I couldn’t understand why everyone suddenly hated me, but then I remembered that the car still has Massachusetts plates, the sight of which is causing the City’s road rage-based immune system to go on the offense and annihilate the intruder.
By the time I pulled up to Ripcord last night, I’d begun referring to the car as Honey Island, which sounds like a sleazy reality show, but is actually a swamp in Louisiana believed to be home to a legendary Skunk Ape. As the name implies, Skunk Apes are described by those who have encountered them as giving off a terrible smell… probably not unlike the cloying, powder-fresh odor permeating the car, which, from an olfactory standpoint, translates to, “Many times have toddlers vomited in this backseat, so we installed the most mawkish, industrial-strength air freshener we could find in a vain attempt to block those events from our memories. We are probably now dying of malignant nose cancer, but hey, at least we tried.”
Carlisle popped by shortly after I opened the store, and I took him outside to experience Honey Island for himself.
“Wow,” he said, taking in the mullein-stained realness before him. “I can tell your brother is from Boston. That color is… very New England.”
“Oh, okay,” I replied. “So what your saying is, instead of naming the car after Skunk Ape territory, I should be researching New England cryptids.”
Carlisle tried to clarify that no, he was in fact not saying that at all, but I was already back inside and combing through the Internet. “Ooh, here’s a good one,” I said, after discarding Dover Demon, Frogman, and Specter Moose. “There’s a creature from Eastern Massachusetts called a pukwudgie, which means ‘little wild man of the woods.’ According to this article, pukwudgies like to start fires and push people off of cliffs.”
“Yeah, that sounds more like the driver,” Carlisle replied.
Ignoring his skepticism, I ran “pukwudgie” through Google Images, and…
“HOLY SHIT,” Carlisle yelped. “His skin is the same color as your car.”
The actual spelling is still up for debate (Carlisle likes Pukwudgee, whereas I’m partial to Puk-Wudjie), but we both agreed that as far as autonyms go, it’s damn near perfect. And then, upon learning that pukwudgies can also turn into porcupines, I hopped over to Etsy to find a nice, spiny decal for the rear windshield, just to nail down the car’s new identity.
Carlisle hung out for awhile longer, mildly baffled by my excitement over the pseudo-christening, but glad to have helped me accept and take true ownership of the new(ish) vehicle. He eventually said his goodbyes, then added, “And hey, have fun with… uh…”
“Pukwudgie,” I said.
“Right. Pukwudgie. I wanted to say ‘curmudgeon’.”
“Oh, no,” I replied. “That’s more like the driver.”