Friday, March 27, 2015

The Miata Diaries: Stubborn screws

I've been warring with a pair of rusted-on rear license plate screws since Tuesday. This is Friday. I tried everything in my arsenal -- every screwdriver that was even close to the right size, WD-40, silicone spray, a screwdriver borrowed from a friend, even a screwdriver borrowed from the local AutoZone. The one from AutoZone was finally a tight fit in the slotted head, but resulted in halfway stripping one of the screws.

It was to the point where I considered getting a friend to drill out the screws. (Or zapping them with my sonic screwdriver.) But I tried one last time.

Another squirt of silicone spray, several taps on each screw and a couple hours' wait. And then, the last straw: A pair of combination pliers with teeth that might either wear down the edges of the screws or sink into them tight enough to provide some leverage.

So into the cold garage I went, at about 8:45 p.m. No more daylight left, but I finally had the energy to give it a go.

Setting the pliers around the right-hand screw, I gripped as hard as the tiny space between the pliers and the surface of the car would allow. And I gently tugged, then harder as I felt the pliers teeth staying put on the screw.

At first, nothing. Then an infinitesimal budge. A few more slow tugs and the rusty stranglehold was broken.

Emboldened with my first success, I seized the second screw and with the same technique managed to get it loose, too.

Thus, I ended up in the checkout line at Wal-Mart at 9:30 on a Friday night with a set of new license plate screws and a glitzy just-for-fun plate frame in my arms. Oh, and a random $2 shirt because it's nigh impossible to bypass the sale rack. (Admit it. You know exactly what I mean.)

Sometimes, you gotta celebrate the small successes.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Miata Diaries: Show and tell

I had promised a friend of mine yesterday that I would give her a ride in my new car before leaving for work. I forgot when the time came to leave, so I made it up to her today after church.

Parked next to a visiting college student's Camaro, the Miata looked to me almost like a toy car. She said it was gorgeous. Throughout the beginning of the ride, she felt along every surface she could reach - the textured plastic door handles, the smooth plastic dash and its round - almost bulbous - HVAC vents, the cloth seat, the vinyl soft top, the cold, metal framework holding the soft top up, the thin flap of fabric hiding that framework from view.

She felt the comparative roominess of the passenger legroom, which surpassed the expectations she'd formed after seeing the red-and-black mass we approached in the parking lot and feeling how short it was - shorter than even her petite frame. She could lean her elbow up on the top of the car.

My friend listened to the rumble of the engine as I revved it up to 4, maybe 5,000 rpms on the short spin through the countryside, assuring her I was only going around 50 mph. She felt the slight jerk accompanying each shift of the six-speed gearbox and the warmth of the sun's energy transferred through the car's outer surface.

When we returned, her dad asked, tongue in cheek, "did you let her drive?" He and her mom had informed me and their other guests yesterday that they make good-natured jokes about visual impairment. "We forget she's blind," they explained.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Miata Diaries: Buying my dream car

I've liked the Mazda Miata roadster since I was about 11 years old.

I called it a "Mrs. Peel car," alluding to one of the characters in the old British TV show "The Avengers" that I and my siblings watched growing up. Pretty much any cute little roadster qualified as a Mrs. Peel car.
Yes, it's an old TV show...

But I was able to see a Miata in person -- even sit in it -- when my parents visited a used car dealer to look for a minivan. I thought it was the bee's knees.

Even after I bought my first car of my very own, I realized my taste in cars hadn't changed much. I loved small and I loved stick-shift. And I still liked a Miata. So when I made a "bucket list" of things I definitely wanted to do sometime in my life, owning a Miata made it on the list.

And now it's checked off.

I bought a 2007 Mazda Miata touring car last week and can hardly wrap my mind around it. I own my dream car. How is that even possible??

But I love it. I can't wait for the weather to warm up. Six speeds (yes, not just five) with the top down ... ah, the thrill of it!

Since I've told people about getting my dream car, I've had several friends tease me, between chuckles, with cautions about it being a "man magnet."

"I heard you were looking at a 'look at me, I'm single and want to met a guy!' car today. Found one that's a convertible and in red even," one relative texted me early on in the car search. I had to chuckle. And when I told another friend I'd probably do mostly country driving in it, zipping around the rural roads and such, he was like "... but you'll only meet cows out there."

Retorting in the same joking attitude, I told him that some of the local cops were quite handsome. :P

But in the seven days I've owned this thing, I've had to wash it twice. And both times within hours after I washed it, I know it attracted guys' attention. One, driving a white muscle car of some sort, pulled up even with me and revved the engine a little. Another gave a wolf whistle.

It's quite entertaining, really, the reactions a classy roadster will get in a small town.