I Love the DMV. You Heard Me.

I have a history of missing important automobile expiration dates: registration, insurance, inspection… it’s an embarrassing habit that I should have grown out of some time ago.

It is one thing to get pulled over in Phoenix for driving on expired Texas plates when you just moved to Arizona and are in your twenties. It is quite another thing to get pulled over for expired plates after dropping your kids off at school in New Jersey when you’ve lived there for seven years and are over forty.

2013 is the first year that I managed to get all my vehicles registered on time. I was feeling, finally, like a real adult. Driving Miss Lucy (my ’66 Mustang) down the main drag in town I noticed an inspection sting set up on the other side of the road. It’s pretty common: they make you slow down and check your inspection sticker as you go by, and pull over violators. This caused me to check my sticker. Which had an expiration date of tomorrow.


The DMV is its own circle of hell. I’m pretty sure it’s the 11th, right after the one containing clowns. But if we all hate it so much, consider the poor bastards that actually work there. That’s probably a hard job to love; definitely a hard job to stay positive in. You’re dealing with these cranky people all day long who can’t follow directions or get their shizz in on time…

I planned on lining up the next morning before they opened. But every time my alarm went off I thought about the DMV and hit snooze.  I finally got up around 7:30, poured some coffee and looked up their 11th Circle of Hell Live Webcam. The line was already wrapped around to the entrance and they hadn’t even started inspecting yet. I started weighing how bad it would be if I blew it off. It’s a $200 ticket,  but sitting in my yoga pants with a Puggle on my lap, I couldn’t bear the thought of heading over there. I always worry so much about if the car’s going to pass inspection or not.

Half an hour of reading blogs and Facebooking later, the page refreshed and there was no line. So I put Jack back on the bed, put on real pants, and headed out the door.

What I forgot was that the inspection station is a whole different vibe from the side where you get all the licensing and registration stuff taken care of. And at the DMV inspection station? I’m a rock star. Or, more correctly, my car is.

She's kind of a big deal.
She’s kind of a big deal.

They all remember Miss Lucy from two years ago when they last inspected her, and everyone comes over from their own bay to tell me a Mustang story–because everyone has a Mustang story.

One guy told me how his dad had a ’65 fastback. He let him drive it sometimes, but he’d have to spend a lot of time airing it out if he wanted to take a girl out because his dad smoked cigars. His dad later had an accident and actually died in the car. They did restoration afterwards but then put it up for sale; none of the kids wanted it after that. “My dad loved that car,” he said.

The guy who completed my inspection actually got a little weepy, shook my hand overlong and told me it brought back a lot of good memories. It seemed like he wanted to tell me some of them but realized the reality that we were standing in the inspection bay in the NJDMV. I understood in that moment that Miss Lucy is always going to pass inspection.

It got me to thinking: I bet there’s a market for classic car therapy. You know how animal therapy reaches certain people? And Art or Music or Dance or Drama therapy reaches certain other people? I think I could just take this car around and certain people– namely, middle-aged guys– would automatically feel better. They’d tell me about their dead fathers and their glory days, and the girl that got away. We’d go for a drive, maybe get an ice cream. I’d be covered by everyone’s insurance, make a nice little side income. I wonder how you’d get licensed for that.

Do you have a Mustang story?

My Dentist Drives a Hotrod

I have a 1966 Mustang Convertible named Miss Lucy.

I bought it way before we got the kids, before I was even with CC.

My dentist drives a 1966 Thunderbird Convertible.

I’m pretty sure he bought it with the money we’ve paid him since we’ve started going to him. I don’t remember seeing it until a couple years ago.

I had to take #5 to the dentist. I didn’t want to go because approximately eight months prior to this, I got my dentist house seats to my show for his wedding anniversary. All this means is I filled out a piece of paper at work; it’s such a small thing and no money comes from me. Then my dentist and his wife sent me this AMAZING bouquet of flowers in thanks.

Here’s a pic of them, poor phone quality, but you can see how pretty they are:

I was moved. I wrote a thank you note, eventually. The letter was overdue when I wrote it. Then I buried it. So here we were, eight months later, and I hadn’t properly thanked my dentist for the flowers and this is why I didn’t want to take #5 to get his toothache fixed. Besides, I knew he would have at least one cavity. They always do.

I don’t micromanage the kids’ hygiene, I can’t. I tell them to brush their teeth, their hair; I tell them to shower. I make sure they go into the bathroom. I don’t stand there and judge how well they are doing it. I only get involved if one comes from brushing their teeth with visible Cheetos imbedded across their incisors, or if I hear the water run for thirty seconds and one comes out wrapped in a towel, dry as the Sahara, still wearing their unsteamed glasses, claiming to have taken a shower. But I can’t micromanage. Jesus, I can barely manage.

This day I could not in good conscience get out of the dentist run. CC had let me sleep until 9:37. He ran all the errands. He made all the phone calls about doctors appointments. He was doing yard work, for Pete’s sake, and I’m intimidated by the leaf blower.

So I went and picked #5 up from school. Such a cute kid. He’s eight. He saw me and just about bounced right out the door; I could see him look back, like the secretary called his name and reminded him that I needed to sign him out before he left. I asked him to show me his teeth, which actually looked pretty okay. But he had one nostril caked in green snot, and one nostril caked in blood. I stopped by home for a washcloth and attempted to clean the nose a bit.

Me: Does your nose keep bleeding?

#5: No, it’s just been like that for a long time.

Me: You mean you haven’t washed it off ever?

#5: No. Should I?

Me: Um, yeah.

And how is it that it doesn’t come off in the shower? And how is it that I haven’t noticed it? And what, exactly, qualifies as “a long time”?

At the dentist, it was quickly determined that #5 had two cavities. I sheepishly gave the dentist my ancient thank you note and thanked him again about ninety times. #5 got a Fluoride treatment.

The thing about the cavities is that I really blame myself, even though I had nothing to do with the genetic plan that laid out the enamel strength of their teeth.  Our pediatrician, whom I hate, gave me a prescription for vitamins with Fluoride for all the kids. Nobody would take them. I couldn’t remember to remind them. And? I don’t sanitize their toothbrushes in the dishwasher like their mother did.

#5 picked out a bendy pirate from the toy drawer and was putting it into yoga poses on the drive home, which is about ninety seconds with traffic. He was cracking himself up. Everything seemed fine. We got out of the car, then onto the sidewalk and he said,  “My tummy hurts,” and just like that, threw up. He had totally swallowed about half of his Fluoride treatment.

I helped him through it. He threw up twice and as he was kneeling down dry heaving, he said, “Hey, is that a piece of food?” and I said, “I don’t know, why don’t you pick it up and find out?” He laughed, then dry heaved. He was grabbing his crotch and squirming, said he had to go to the bathroom really bad. But every time he tried to walk he threw up again. Luckily, I had the nose washcloth with me and got him stable enough to run inside. He simultaneously peed and threw up in the toilet, which impressed me, and figured he was done.

I got him settled on the couch and he started to cry a little. So I held him and I said, “You didn’t throw up on yourself and you didn’t pee your pants. Sounds like a pretty good day to me!” He laughed a little and buried his head in my shoulder.

Then he said, “You know what would really make it a bad day for you? If I threw up on you right now.”