It's a love affair -- mainly Jesus and my hotrod

by Leonard Cachola

As many of my friends know, I love my car.

As a male under 25 with a need for speed, my car is powerful, fast and doesn't cost much to insure, a big plus for someone on a college budget, like me.

However, as much as I love my car, I hate it.

I hate the whole expense of owning a car. If it's not a set of tires costing three or four hundred dollars, it's replacing the brakes for $150. Then, if it's not the brakes, it's fog lamps which have been attacked by unfriendly rocks and need replacing at $75 apiece.

I hate worrying about what might happen to it once I've parked it somewhere. A car goes through more abuse sitting in a parking lot or driveway than in actual driving around town. Well, unless you're the type of person who likes running into curbs, speed bumps and other cars at full speed on a regular basis, that is.

Mother Nature, in her own special way, loves cars. Bird droppings seem to have a magical attraction to them, as do bugs and hail. A sitting car is the perfect target for such bombardment, as portrayed so eloquently in a recent Chevron commercial that depicts a nice-looking car attempting to ward off several birds.

As if Mother Nature weren't enough, there are people who park their cars just close enough to throw their doors with wild abandon into the adjacent car, causing what is called a "door ding." On my car, one of these typically small dents turns into a crater akin to the ones on the moon, thanks to thin sheet-metal. Most of these have occurred thanks to fellow Cougars.

Speaking of parking, I hate having to worry about where I park my car. Just last weekend, my friends and I went to a club but couldn't get in. We decided to go to the beach instead, leaving my car around the corner by an elementary school.

I parked there because it looked like a relatively benign spot. After all, who would think of doing anything to a car sitting on a well-lit city street near the busiest section in town?

However, when I got back, I found my car had been keyed, leaving a five-foot scratch on the driver's side.

I wasn't angry that my car had been defaced because, after all, it can be repainted. Plus, there wasn't much I could do about it. I was angry over the fact that my personal property had been violated and that someone lacked the respect to leave alone my possession, purchased with hard-earned money. What galls me is that I hadn't parked in a neighborhood, or blocked a driveway or street, but by a school, of all places.

Who could have done such a thing?

If I were a conservative suburbanite who feared the gangs and the degeneration of family values, I would have immediately suspected long-haired young people wearing sports caps, who have nothing better to do but defend their turf. I then would have called out every cop in the city, looking for the ragamuffins who had committed such a dastardly deed, and had them thrown in jail, only to see them back on the streets the next morning.

If I were really paranoid, I would have blamed the minorities and their secret agendas to take over this society through violent means, with my car being first in the line of their many exploits.

If I lived in war-torn Bosnia, a keying of my car wouldn't be half as bad as the missile that would have broadsided it the previous day. Car mechanics probably make a killing over there, no pun intended.

If I were an inhabitant of China, I wouldn't even bother worrying about a car, because biking would be more en vogue in society. Come to think of it, using a bike is not a bad idea at all. Then again, this IS Houston ...

If I were a post office worker, I would take out my frustrations on my fellow employees in a fit of violence.

If I were a hippie, I would have just lain back with my bong and let the world move on its merry way.

And if I had the power to do anything I wanted to, I would devise a way to find out who did it and where they live, and torture them beyond anything previously imagined, leaving their bodies in the dung heaps of hell.

Instead, I'm just a normal person lacking a concealed weapon and the wherewithal to go out on a hunt for blood, and it's things like this that make me wonder whether or not I should sell away my love and no longer have to hate.

Cachola is a senior with a "for sale" sign ready and waiting.

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