Tuesday, June 24, 2008


On the way home from YogaTrek today the car began smoking and emitting a poisonous melting-metal stench that had subtle overtones of burning plastic.

It started when I was driving by Taste of Chicago.

But it was coming from under the hood.

I thought the engine was going to start on fire and explode.

So I called Dreyfus and had him talk me down. He confirmed that the smoke could indeed be coming from the A/C compressor. For the past year the car had been emitting a loud wail whenever I drove it, and I knew that removing the belt would make the awful sound stop.

After exiting Lake Shore Drive, I drove straight to the mechanic. Actually it's two mechanic-owners; middle-aged brothers with deep voices perfect for radio.

They know me: The single woman with the falling-apart jalopy who questions every repair and always insinuates that they're ripping her off.

They wanted to know if I had an appointment.

"No, the thing just started smoking and smelling so I drove it straight here. Could you look at it now? Do you think it could be the A/C compressor?"

It was the A/C compressor. The thinner, tanner brother came out to the street and confirmed it.

Prior research told me that a new one would cost around $1,000.

"Can you just cut the belt off?"

At first they were skeptical; what if the belt was connected to something inportant? And how does she know about the belt, anyway?

But the thinner, tanner brother came out and checked it out. He returned with a tool, got under the hood, and cut the cord.

He dirtied his white shirt getting under the car to retrieve the belt.

And didn't charge me a cent.

No complaints there.

But I felt like I'd betrayed the poor car.

And now I must spend the rest of the summer (or at least until I leave for India) in a car with no A/C.

If you've never done this before, in Chicago, you have no idea of what hell is really like.

When you don't have A/C in the car, and you're pitta dosha, and you're stuck in traffic in 98-degree heat, it really is awful.....

The body overheats.

The skin breaks out.

The mind becomes stupid.

Brain cells die.

It's tapas - literally.

Not to mention yet another unexpected lesson in non-attachment.


*Today's heading is in homage to American writer Dorothy Parker's famous line, "What fresh hell is this?" which she reportedly uttered when her train of thought was interrupted by a telephone. According to this website, "She then started using it in place of 'hello' when answering the phone or a knock at her door."

Other famous witticisms by Parker:

I require three things in a man. He must be handsome, ruthless and stupid.

The only "ism" Hollywood believes in is plagiarism.

(Quote about the Yale prom) Quite an affair...If all the girls were laid end to end, well, I wouldn't be a bit surprised

You can't teach an old dogma new tricks.

If you want to see what God thinks of money, look at the people he gave it to.

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

When asked to use the word 'horticulture' in a sentence: "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think. "

That woman speaks eight languages and can't say no in any of them.


  1. it can't be that bad?

  2. "what fresh hell.." is a favorite and often used quote.
    also: a little tip from someone who use to drive 40 miles on the eisenhower without a/c..get one of those re-freezable cooler blocks and put it between your back and the seat. a large cup of ice water helps as well. it makes the drive a little less hellish.

  3. ...the ice water is to drink btw

  4. looks like one for "car talk"

  5. Eeyore - yes, it is *that* bad.

    Thank you Kara for the tips; today I picked up some frozen mango tea at Cafe Boost; it got me from OP to Lakeview sans meltdown.

    I realize now I should have called the post, "What Fresh Smell is This."