Sunday, July 29, 2007

"What, No Flux Capacitor?"

Sparked by this MetaFilter entry.

The headline in the LA Times read "For the DeLorean, It's Back to the Present."

"The iconic gull-winged sports car is once again hot, and there are plans afoot to place it back in production."

And I had a sudden and completely random synaptic discharge.

Back in the 'Eighties I was living in Charlottesville and working as a "Laboratory Specialist B" for the University of Virginia, killing rats, cutting up their brains, labeling the slices with antibodies, and preparing the results for light and electron microscopy.

It wasn't as glamorous as it sounds (insert loud "guffaw" here). In fact, it was downright tedious, requiring painstaking, near-obsessive attention to detail under rigid time constraints imposed by people who, though very bright within their particular fields of study, were, nonetheless, complete and total dumbasses as far as how things worked in the Real World (pat. pend.). They often forgot that I was not a graduate student nor a Ph. D. researcher, that I did this to pay the bills and have a life, and were annoyed that I wasn't willing to spend 18-20 hours a day on their particular projects.

I dealt with this, uh, inappropriately.

To make a long story short, I wound up with a little problem and started attending what I affectionately (if not cryptically) refer to as Super-Secret Support Groups.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with S-SSGs, there's as much, if not more, recovery work occurring before and after scheduled meetings as there is during, usually in coffee shops, greasy spoon All-Nite diners, fast food places, pizza joints, people's living rooms and apartments, even while driving aimlessly through town and countryside.

My friend Tom C. and I did a lot of driving in those early days, usually in my 1984 Honda Prelude since Tom's car couldn't be trusted to back out of a driveway. I had massive insomnia, Tom was unemployed, and neither of us ever felt like hanging out at Shoney's or Howard Johnson's, so we took to the road, seeing parts of Charlottesville most people didn't realize existed (well, excepting the locals, but the University Community believed nothing existed beyond their borders until you hit D. C. and points north). We often wound up cruising through some pretty sketchy parts of town, including this really scary-looking run-down public housing project, a bizarre enclave of gangsta chic and white trash culture.

And it was there, one cold, still, fall night, that we saw... it. Partially covered by a rotting tarp, surrounded by trash, a little beaten-up, sans tires, its rims on cinder blocks, I swear to you we saw it.

A De Lorean.

Shining in the moonlight.

What do you say? What do you do? How do you react to (what would now be) a $60,000 plus car in the most unlikely of places?

We stared in wonder and drove home in silence.

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