M is for Monte Carlo

MI CAN’T DRIVE 55 – A Love Affair with My Monte Carlo©

My first car: a ’71 Monte Carlo. A 350 4-barrel dual exhaust blue beauty that could do zero to sixty in 4.9 seconds. Always washed and waxed, the wheels shined and the black hard-top glistened. The neighborhood cop dubbed me “the Blue Streak.” He told me once that he could always hear me coming (who couldn’t?) but just as he’d look up, he’d catch only a glimpse of sky-blue as I sped past and never quite managed to stop for the stop sign at the end of his street.

1971 Monte Carlo120-watt Jensen speakers blasted shades of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. Iconic tunes blended with the haze of purple microdot, orange sunshine or the rainbow-color blotter of the day, accented of course by the sweet aroma of Colombian Gold.

rolling papers - E-Z Wider 1-1/2

A pack of EZ Widers rolling papers was always strategically wedged under the 8-track cartridge. It was the burnouts’ solution to control the ‘waah-waah’ drag of overplayed warped tape.

 

Nestled in the crook of the ashtray would be my favorite head-shop find: the Jimmy Carter roach clip. Our political declarations – or lack of them – spoke volumes as we passed around “Mr. Jimmy,” as he fondly became known… that presidential roach clip with a handily crafted resin peanut on the end, and liberally carved into it those famous Jimmy Carter lips and toothy grin.

With carefree spirits we’d cruise to various neighborhoods, making the rounds to support our friends and their garage bands.

We’d bar-hop nightly, jumping across county lines to catch the latest last-call. And we’d always make a final stop for breakfast at Sambo’s or Denny’s before rolling home at dawn.

The summer days were spent moving from party to party at Oppenheim Park: sitting atop weathered picnic tables, passing joints and vintage Power Hittersharing bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 MD 20/20 Pure Grape Wine  (how  ever did we drink that stuff??) while cases of Labatt’s Blue and six-packs of Miller ponies sat icing in the back of someone’s van.

We’d pass the cold months sitting parked in some dark lot, bundled up and huddled, with the Chevy’s heat blasting to assuage the bitter sub-zero temperatures of Buffalo winters. We’d trip and we’d smoke and we’d drink while we laughed and played and flirted and philosophized, listening to tracks of The Guess Who, Van Halen, AC/DC and Aerosmith.

And on those rare days when I wanted to be alone, my Monte Carlo satisfied my introspection. She and I would take to the wide open highway, barreling along aimlessly. Or we’d wind through back country roads, a joint in hand Vintage roach stone - marijuana leafand a chilled bottle of wine tucked in between the seats, usually not knowing quite where we’d end up…just content to be rolling.

Well, the seasons, they turned into years, and the years into decades and my Monte Carlo is long gone. But that car lives on forever in my heart. She was an extension of me, part of my identity really, somehow inextricably linked to my very soul. No doubt when friends look back on days gone by and happen to think of me, my Monte Carlo will spring to mind as well because, after all, she was so much a part of me. How I miss that car!

Tell me about your first car: Did you love it? Hate it? What memories does it hold for you?

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 Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.

F is for …

FThe Best and the Worst of F Words

One of my favorite words begin with F. I’m sure you know which one I’m talking about. That crude four-letter word, to me, is an important communication tool. It’s a word I use when I want to place great emphasis on something that I’m saying. It’s also very effective when used in the passionate throes of hot steamy sex.

On the other hand, one of the ugliest F words is FAT. I hate that word! In our thin-obsessed society, the word has grown to be one that can throw a woman (or a man) into a downward spiral of crash dieting, eating disorders, body dysmorphia and even into a full-blown state of depression. It’s a bad word, fat.

Another F word that I have come to hate is FACE. Let me just state this on behalf of all the beautiful fat women in the world: The worst compliment you can give us is to say, “You have such a pretty face.” If I hear that one more time I’m going to scream and not stop screaming. God, it makes me crazy!

Why is this compliment so bothersome and so very uncool? Because if you are complimenting a thin woman, you say, “You’re so pretty” or “You’re beautiful.” But when you compliment a plus-size woman, you say “You have such a pretty face,” “You have a beautiful face.”

Do you know what that tells us? It tells us that although our face is pretty, the rest of us is garbage, and that everything below our necks is worthless. In other words, you’re telling us that 95 percent of our physical being is horrid. That’s exactly what it says to us. To use another F word, it’s so fucking insulting!

I do believe that most people who use that compliment are coming from a place of love and they don’t even realize the implications their phraseology has on the one being complimented. But, please, from now on, consider your words before you tell a fat woman that she’s beautiful. Don’t pinpoint her face. Just say, “You’re beautiful.” Period. Because that’s what we are.

With that being said, I’m going to do something very foreign and unfamiliar to me. After years of growing up fat in America and decades of self-image and body image issues, I’m going to be brave here and finally, for the first time in my life, I’m going to claim my beauty. And I’m only doing this for me:

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REMEMBERING MAGGIE

I adopted Maggie on June 7, 1999. She was just 3 years old then. And she was my first greyhound: she awakened my love for all things canine and was the start of my life with dogs.

reverse brindle greyhound

We don’t know any real background on Maggie because she was double tattooed. National Greyhound Association, aka NGA, racing greyhounds are registered and tattooed on the inside flaps of their ears. In one ear is the owner/breeder ID number and in the other is the month and year of birth. When the dogs are illegally disposed of or sold to be used for underground racing, often the owner/breeder tattoo number will be obliterated so that the dog can’t be traced back to them. Maggie had such a tattoo. She was rescued from a rabbit-runner bust and, according to the adoption coordinator, the dogs that were rescued from that underground circuit were in terrible shape. When they got to Maggie, she had to be carried out because she was too weak to walk on her own. She was only 38 lbs when they found her —and her regular weight was supposed to be 65-68 lbs.

She was a two-time bounce-back with the adoption group. A bounce-back is when a dog who had been adopted out is returned. I always found that hard to believe because Maggie was such an incredible dog!  Apparently the first family had adopted her when the husband had a home-based business,
but then he got a job outside of the home and Maggie started peeing in the house, so instead of working with her on it, they gave her back. The second woman who adopted her said she couldn’t control her (Maggie was very strong-willed!). So ironically –but I believe it was actually fate– the day that Maggie got returned for the second time, the woman dropped her off at the GPA Meet & Greet and I just happened to be going over to there to hand in some additional adoption application paperwork.

I’ll never forget the first time we met. They told me her story and said that if I wanted to take her, she was mine. They suggested I walk around with her for a little while, which we did. I took her outside for a walk on the grounds and was sweet-talking to her but she was completely unreceptive to me. I kept telling the adoption coordinator, “She won’t make eye contact with me.” It was bothering me so we sat down on
the steps and I just talked to her and petted her and she just kept averting her gaze. But finally, after what seemed like a very long time, she turned her head and looked into my eyes. And that was it. The bond was established. And it would be one of the most incredible bonds of my life.

the bond between pet and human

Maggie was a love-bug. And everyone who met her fell instantly in love with her. She simply and immediately captured the hearts of everyone who spent any amount of time with her. My vet described her perfectly: “There was something very special about Maggie. She was a real lady.” And that she was.

She was also fun, funny and goofy. Especially at dinner time: she would go into one of her playful modes while I was preparing dinner for the dogs. She would start tossing around the toys in the living room, twirling around in circles and diving at the toys, then throwing them up in the air again and again. This would go on for a few minutes until she had worn herself out. Then she’d come to the doorway of the kitchen, panting, with this big grin on her face, in anxious anticipation for her dinner to be set down.

And just two days before she died, she did exactly that. When she was standing in the doorway that day, I looked at her, laughed and said “Boy, Maggie, no one would ever believe you were 13 years old!” She was actually just two months shy of 13 when she passed.

See, Maggie had been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Disease in December 2008. Her prognosis at the time was three to six months. My vet put her on a cocktail of drugs that turned her around quickly and she was doing fantastic! So good, so back to her normal playful self that I thought we would well surpass that six month prognosis.
Four months into it, she woke me at 5:30 on the morning of April 1st 2009. I took her and the other dogs out to potty, gave Mag her dosage of Lasix and then she came back in and stood next to my bed. Everything was completely normal. I got her up on the bed, and then I crawled in next to her. At that point, she hadn’t yet laid down and was just still standing on the bed. She looked down at me and I chuckled and said “where do you want to go Mag?” She turned and just plopped down. Her one leg was folded underneath her and I said, “Well, that can’t be comfortable” and straightened her leg out for her and then, as usual, I just laid there with her, stroking and rubbing on her. And we were watching the morning news. Just like every other typical morning. Then she started to pant. Her heart condition caused her to pant sometimes but she was panting harder than usual. I continued to stroke her and was soothing her when all of the sudden, she had a big spasm. She spasmed and her legs kicked, then tensed and tightened. I jumped out of bed and ran around to the other side. I grabbed her snout and started blowing into her nostrils, doing mouth to nose resuscitation, screaming “breathe Maggie, breathe!”  But she was limp. And she was gone. In a matter of seconds she was just gone.

I was devastated beyond consolation. But later that day I thought, ‘What a way to go out!” She was completely fine one minute and gone the next. Literally. And she was where she most loved to be, up on my bed, getting stroked and loved on by her mama. I guess you can’t ask for a better way to go than that. We should all be so lucky.

She was my precious princess, my Magarooni, my Magger-Doodle, my sweet angel girl. It’s been five years and I still miss her like I lost her yesterday. She was the one who started this all, my life with dogs, and for that I will be forever grateful. And I will always be thankful for all the love she showered me with and all the lessons she taught me.

I’ve always believed that Maggie was intended for me. After all, she had been bounced out of two homes, two families, and it never made any sense to me because I couldn’t fathom why anyone would ever give up this dog! She was so good and so loving and so well-behaved. After a while, I realized that it was her path and her inevitable journey to get to me…and that a Higher Power intended us to be together. And maybe not just because I could give her a wonderful life in a loving home but so that I could learn from her what I needed to learn.

I learned so much about myself from Maggie. She was fiercely independent, like me, and very much had a mind of her own. Although independent, she was equally dependent and coveted lots of affection and attention. It never failed: when I’d stop rubbing on her after a lengthy cuddle session, she’d lift her head up, turn back and look at me with pleading eyes then let out a pathetic whimper to tell me that she hadn’t yet had enough. So I’d relent and give her what she most wanted: more loving. Then the minute I’d stop rubbing or stroking, again she’d raise that head, look at me and whimper – a soulful cry that would beckon my hand back to her belly. This would go on for hours…usually while we were watching TV in the evenings.  And it would happen regularly, almost constantly. She never could get enough rubs and tickles.

One day I looked at her and realized how much of myself I saw in her. I too can never get enough rubs and tickles. Like me, Maggie was demanding. Like me, she was persistent. Like me, she was selfish. Like me, she was never satisfied. For Maggie, as with me, it was never enough. She opened my eyes to not only a whole new world of living life with dogs but she opened my eyes to myself.

I love you sweet Maggie. You will always be in my heart. Missing you today…and every day.

                                                 Maggie Truhlik                                                    June 1996 – April 1, 2009

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Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.