Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Just Too Many Gremlins

Last weekend's trip out of town with the antique car had been on the horizon for a long time.  It gave the promise of some enroute sightseeing, then on to a car show the next day, and lots of skirt time afterward, as well as the last day.  As you probably know, "promises" typically get broken when gremlins appear.

An irreplaceable part on my antique car had broken a couple of months ago, and a friend in another city repaired it for me.   He contacted me a couple days before the trip, with the news that he was going to be at the same show.  "Let's get together Friday afternoon, beforehand."  OK, sounds like a plan.  But. so much for the sightseeing.  (That was the first gremlin...)

Trouble is that he was staying in one town, and I was in another, 30 minutes away (with a tailwind, downhill) - certainly much more in Friday afternoon traffic.   But he included his cell phone number in the email so I could call when I get in, and I responded with mine, telling him to call me if he didn't hear from me by 3 PM.

I arrived after two and gave him a call, but a woman answered.  Oops.  Wrong number.   But I called the exact number he gave me.  The clock wound past 2:30.   Then past 3.   I emailed him, a couple times during the wait...and even tried calling the number after rearranging some of the digits that people often transpose.  Those numbers were all disconnected.  So I called the "wrong number" lady and apologized but I was concerned that the phone company had messed up.  No, she told me that she's had the number for 11 years. so there is some other problem...    By then it was 4 PM.  Still no call, and no response to emails. (The second gremlin.)

At about 4:15, he finally called.  I explained the problem to him.  He was going to check his email when they get to where there is wi-fi and see what it turned out, with rain showers and early darkness, neither one of us wanted to drive the old cars that late in the day.  So we agreed to meet at the show on Saturday.   And after hanging up, I checked the number he called from - the number he emailed me had 2 digits transposed.  But, they weren't ones I'd tried to fix...  The third gremlin had crept in...while nobody was looking.

And that's 3 too many...but wait, there's more!

It rained Friday night, and was still raining Saturday morning.  I drove from the hotel to the car show in pouring rain.  (I guess that's why David Dunbar Buick put wipers on his cars.)  During that drive, I discovered that one of the original-style T-3 headlights I installed for the show, had burned out  Those old T-3's are useless anyway...but now I have half the poor light I did before.   Since half of nothing - is still nothing,  no night driving this trip.  (The fourth gremlin.)

While cleaning the car on the show field after I arrived (the rain had slowed to a light mist), I hurried too much, caught the nail on my right little finger on something in the grille, and it cracked crossways.  Not just the acrylic, but the nail as well.  And so, about 1/4 of the real nail peeled off in my hand...ouch.  Not pretty.  It was time to head for the paramedic tent...where they bandaged it up for me (minus the missing portion of the nail), which they said should grow back eventually.  But this was the fifth gremlin of the weekend.

At least the car won an award! (The gremlins forgot to alter that...)

Back at the hotel after the show, gremlin number six appeared as I realized, after getting cleaned up and into a skirt outfit, that the sun (which had come out during the afternoon), had disappeared behind an advancing cloud deck.  It was obviously going to be dark a lot earlier than I had planned.  Before dinner, I had to visit one (and it turned out to be two) major chain pharmacies to find the proper dressings for my "amputated" fingernail...that was a first priority because the exposed quick was still draining and it was time to change the bandage.  The picture below is my outfit for dashing into the pharmacies:

My pharmacy outfit 

By the time I finished with that task, light was fading fast.  That burned-out headlight was really cramping my style big-time.  Instead of enjoying a nice, relaxing dinner at a restaurant, there was only enough time for me to drop in at a large, newly-opened chain grocery store (fortunately I found a big parking place right near the door, thus no sweater needed) and picked up dinner to eat back in the room.

 My grocery outfit...more feminine.

Though the store was very crowded, I didn't notice any strange looks whatsoever.  Not from anyone, including a lot of teenage girls.  And there were plenty of those.  Rest assured though -  Mandy would rather have gone to a restaurant.

But those gremlins STILL weren't done toying with me.  They obviously had Mandy "in their crosshairs" for the entire weekend.  Early Sunday morning, I woke up at about 3:30 AM, feeling absolutely terrible, and was afraid to lay back down and go to sleep... concerned that I might feel worse when I got up "the second time."  And there was no way to get home except for me to drive...

So I took some aspirin, relaxed a bit, and passed time on the computer, till breakfast was ready in the lobby at 6:30.  Feeling somewhat better, certainly well enough to start my trip home, I loaded up the car and headed back, but abandoning plans for back-woods sightseeing (why risk getting sick where there is no cell phone coverage) or case I got sick on the road.  But I made it home safely, with no issues. 

For those who might be concerned, my malaise apparently was complete exhaustion from two long days and very restless nights...  When I got home, I took a four-hour nap, and went to bed right after dinner.  Felt much better when I got up the next day...  Getting old is H--L.

Two days prior to departing for the car show, the following sunset presented itself to me as I was out and about.  Have camera will travel.  So, I leave you with this picture of Kent Narrows, from the Delmarva, looking west toward the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland:

Till next time,



  1. Because I knew you were in 'car show' season when I saw the title of the post I assumed you were writing about the old AMC Gremlin from the 1970s. After reading your post I realized that you were not 'specifically' writing about a car but on further reflection perhaps you were.
    The Gremlin was a snake bitten design from the outset. It was different and in some ways cute but no one I know with one like its handling, comfort or the fact that it was always in repair. I suppose that this is not too shocking since the concept for the car was concocted by two AMC designers on a flight and the first drawing for the car was done on the back of an air sickness bag.

    The rest of your car weekend seems to fall within the ambit of the Robert Burns poem "To a Mouse" that "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray".

    I am glad that you are safely home and feeling better. I am sorry that you missed some of your skirt time and did not get to a restaurant to eat while skirted but you seem to have had decent encounters at the pharmacy and grocery store. I wonder if the take out food may have hit you with a small dose of food poisoning to add to the stress and exhaustion of the trip.

    Congratulations on the prize. Let us know what your salon is able to do for the ripped nail.


    1. Strangely enough, during the oil embargo in the 70's, I bought a brand new Gremlin, with manual transmission and Weather Eye heater/air conditioning factory installed, as my daily driver. The dealer made me order it that way, with long delivery, as he said he'd never be able to sell it if the deal fell thru.

      The main reason for my choice was its 20 gallon gas tank and long range (nearly 600 miles). Due to odd/even gas rationing) this gave me the flexibility to refill the Gremlin on "wrong" days out of the 20 gallon tank on the '67 "by siphon" - if I needed gas. Which I would, every time I got home from weekend trips to my parents' place - coming in on less than an eighth of a tank. On the "right" Sundays many stations were closed or had the "no gas" signs out. (Needless to say, both cars had locking gas caps.) Did I mention that the Gremlin got 28-29 mpg, much better than the 15 achieved by the '67? This was a very convenient arrangement, and let me sit in gas lines when I chose to, not when I was late for work, desperate, and running on fumes.

      I really never knew the Gremlin design details you mentioned - thanks for that info! Very interesting...

      I totally concur that the seats were awful, as was traction in the snow, and the ride and handling were both bad. However mine actually was fairly reliable, never let me down on the road, and only had 2 mechanical issues over 4 years. One was that something shorted out (don't remember what) in my garage, and toasted the electrical system's fusible link. No fire, thankfully - guess that's why they put in a fusible link They paid for the tow, and it was fixed under warranty. The other was a squeaky clutch pedal. That was an unsolvable mystery, during and after the warranty. I just turned up the radio volume and ignored it. Yes, it still squeaked the day I traded it in!

      Very true about my weekend...the bright side is that at least it was a successful show! (And FYI Gremlins - the cars, LOL - are really quite rare at auto shows...)

      Hadn't thought about the food poisoning possibility. That could be. However dinner appeared and smelled OK, was fresh dated, and so on. At least I recovered quickly...whatever it was.

      My first thought on the nail issue is to do nothing at the next fill. I'll leave a bandage on it. Once it's actively growing again, then I'll have Judy look at guess is that a fake nail eventually can be put on. My wife says, leave it be. Whether that's because of "Not My Husband syndrome" or because she knows what's best, I don't know. But initially at least, I think she's right. I need to be able to see what's going on with it in case of problems... Don't need the doctor to have to do more damage taking a fake nail off if it needs attention.

      But I'll ask Judy to cut the other 9 nails shorter, to make the absent 10th nail less obvious! I bet she'll concur - that'll look a lot more professional.

      More Later,


  2. I remember the Jimmy Carter era gas lines very well. In 1975 I started grad school. I was working and living with my wife upstate and the school was down in Queens. I got my job to put me on the midnight shift with two days off midweek but since it was about 100 miles each way the old 1968 Mustang which by then had about 120K miles was not the best suited set of wheels for the ride. I sold the Mustang and bought a 'new' Datsun 'Honey Bee'. It was basically a stripped down Datsun B-210. No hubcaps, no ashtray or cigarette lighter, no carpets (vinyl floor only), AM only radio, manual crank windows, etc. I was able to get 40 MPGs out of the 4 speed manual tranny.

    Good luck on the broken and ripped nail. It is probably best to let it alone and just keep it clean and protected for the time being.


    1. Those years were the "best of times" or the "worst of times," depending on how you look at it! We all coped with the inconveniences any way we could! But it was a comfort to know I still had 20 gallons of gas available to me, whenever I got back from visiting my parents!

      Thanks on the broken nail... Fortunately, it's healing quite nicely so far, and is much less sore and red than it was. Yesterday I had a fill on the "other 9." Full details to come in the next post, but J thinks she should be able to give the broken one a matching paint job (not a fill) in a week or two... Then she'll see how it looks at the regular fill after that, and decide what to do with it. She wants it to go at least a month, maybe more, till she fills what's left of it.