Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Timing is everything

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The hokey pokey may be what it’s all about, but without timing, even the hokey pokey just looks like some tourist trying to walk around Whistler Village without a clue where they’re going.

I’m spending Memorial Day weekend in Aspen. Not the Aspen of fame and fortune, the Aspen of the rich and famous, the Aspen Whistler tries so hard not to become while seemingly embracing many of its fatuous values.

More accurately, I’m spending Memorial Day weekend – that’s what Americans call Victoria Day weekend and, since they don’t kowtow to some foreign Queen, they celebrate their heroes of democracy and the Indy 500 – at The Aspen. In this case, The Aspen is a modest, roadside motel on the eastern fringes of Missoula, Montana.

Modest is not a euphemism for ramshackle and Missoula is not redundant with the word fringes. Hell, Missoula is such a weird word, this place could be in Canada, eh?

I’m spending an unexpected 72 hours in beautiful downtown Missoula because the venerable, if soon to be for sale, Westfailya has, well, failed me. Or maybe I failed it. It’s one of those complicated relationships after all. And it’s not really for sale; that’s just the anger talking.

Mello Yello, as animate an inanimate object as was ever assembled by skilled German craftsmen, just couldn’t handle the praise, the congratulations, the loving attention I’d been lavishing upon it. That’s my theory anyway. I’d

praised it for how flawlessly it performed during the first three-quarters of this 5,000 mile jaunt. I’d washed the bugs off it, changed its oil, rotated its tires, hell, even drained and refilled its transmission for the first time in who knows how long.

Somewhere in the farmland 250 miles south of Missoula, just as the Bitterroots began to rise from the Great Basin, it started to crack under all the pressure. More a vibration than a noise at first, I tried to ignore the early warning signs. I thought positive thoughts. I invoked the blessings of the pagan gods arrayed on its dashboard – Felix the Cat, Burn-Victim Barbie, Godzilla, Brian the Ferengi, a lesser Peruvian deity called Poco Loco and Sol, the god of sunny weather. Guess we need new talismans. Talismen?

The vibration turned into a rumble, the rumble into a knock and the knock into a firm knowledge I was about to be visited by the dreaded CV failure. Déjà vu, dude.

Conjuring my manifest mechanical skill, I relied on every homespun mechanic’s first and best tool. I tried to ignore the problem hoping it would fix itself. It got worse.

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