Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Dashboard

My fourteen year old Dodge Grand Caravan (which I've only known for nine of those years) has made four round trips from New Jersey to Disney World (well, 3-1/4 really), countless excursions to New York City, numerous forays to IKEA (in Elizabeth, NJ and our favorite in Conshohocken, PA) and has experienced neverending railfanning escapades. Except for major surgery in 2007 in Richmond, Virginia (yes...we had to leave it there for a new transmission and rent a van for the rest of the trip to Disney), it's been a real trooper. Naturally, though, along with our weary finances, the poor van has had to suffer through minor aches and pains without remedy. One of the most inconvenient maladies is the hit-or-miss dashboard. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn't. I am now a pro at judging my speed to within 2 mph. And, though I've come too close for comfort a few times, I have not yet run out of gas (knock wood!). This morning, after two full weeks in the dark, my dashboard finally decided to show itself again. Imagine my surprise when I received a response to my "Well, where have you been?"

Oh my. Have I been absent again? Dear, dear, dear. (The dashboard's voice was most definitely that of Edward Everett Horton, very much as he sounded in "Top Hat" with Fred and Ginger - see

It's been two weeks this time. I thought you were going for a new record.

Oh, heaven's no! Well, was it really two weeks? My, my, my. I simply can't imagine it's been that long. Two weeks, you say?

Uh-huh. (I happened to notice that an emergency stop at the nearest gas station was in my immediate future.)

Imagine that. Well, I simply have no recollection of it being that long. Certainly not. No recollection at all.

You do realize this has been going on for almost a year, don't you? And you're gone for longer periods of time than you're here!

Not really! You don't say? Well...what do you know? Hard to believe. Yes, yes. Just simply too hard to believe!

Apparently it's a huge job to fix, too. Any idea why you do it, or why you just can't stay on?

Oh no, none at all. Out of my control, I should imagine. Yes, that's it. Out of my control. Why, I don't even know when it happens. Comes from right out of the blue. Dear-oh-dear...right out of the blue!

If I ask nicely, can't you please stay a bit longer this time?

Love to. Yes, indeed, I'd simply love to. But, you see, I have nothing to do with it. Nothing at all. I'm here and then I'm not. Just like that. Here, and then not.

(I pulled into the gas station and turned off the ignition, hope-hope-hoping that when I turned it back on Mr. Horton would still be there. As my luck would have it, the rest of the ride to work as absolutely silent. But, as least now instead of being frustrated that my dashboard doesn't work, I look forward to those rare occasions when Edward Everett Horton accompanies me for the ride. Oh yes, indeed!)