Car Talk Confessions, A Poem

A friend pulled up to the house in a loaner car last week.

“What happened to your new car?” I asked.

“It’s in the shop,” he said. “Needs a new alternator. They sure don’t make ’em like the used to. I just can’t pop the hood and fix ’em myself anymore.”

“Yeah, they used to be much simpler.”

And then, because he’s a car man like my dad was — and about the same age — he started in on his old car stories.

Then I told mine.

Car Talk Confessions

Forget the mashed potatoes.
In my kitchen it’s the radio
that serves up comfort,
same as it did as a kid.
The names have changed,
but the tone, the one I
call cool and calm,
that my kids
call tediously tormenting
lives on.

Hi, I’m Lakshmi Singh and
this is NPR news.
The good and the bad,
all wrapped up in the same
tranquil timbre.

My oven burned out
the day Lakshmi broke the news about Tom.
Tom, the NPR Car Talk guy, she said unrattled,
was dead.
Felled at 77.
Alzheimer’s.
Tim-ber! Delivered in timbre.
A homonym for Tomonym.
He’d laugh his ass off about that, and
he’d know how to fix my 2003 JennAir Dual Fuel oven.

Was Tom Click or Clack
of Tappet Brothers fame?
I can’t say for sure
but Tom, oh dear God, how
can someone like him
ever rest in peace? Tom
was the laugher of the Clicker Clackers
an unmistakable
firebomb of cackles
who made a riotous radio racket
with his bantering brother
for more Saturdays than I can remember.

Yukking and yakking it up for people like me
who don’t give a hoot about cars
unless theirs won’t get them where they want to go.
Then we holler.

That’s exactly what I did
back in ’88 when, at age 16,
my first set of wheels
was as dead as my oven
and it was all my—
dad’s fault,
depending on whose side you take.

I disabled your car.
You’re grounded, he said,
for an offense I can’t even recall.
Then Dad left town,
secure with my sentence.

Cue the banjo intro.

Hello, you’re on Car Talk with Click and Clack.

Hi, I’m Julie from Seattle.
Thanks for taking my call.

H-e-l-l-o Sunless in Seattle!
What’s your question?

Not a question, more a confession. I’m hoping
you’ll share with my dad, Tom, now that you’ve both
driven through the Pearly Gates.

I’d like him to know I read the manual
and diagnosed his disablement. I found
my alternator cap
on his workbench soon after he left that day,

popped it back on
and drove off.
Tell him next time,
he might want to take it with him.

Cue the infectious laugh, Tom.
And please, pass this on to my dad.

-©Julie Deutscher, November 2014

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