I didn’t fear failure when I was young. I feared being just like everybody else, another face in the crowd. In a word, I feared being average. It seemed like a fate worse than death. Well, look at me now, living in suburbia, just another middle-aged white guy with a lawn and a 401(k) and a nagging worry that each and every racing physical I take will reveal that I do, in fact, have inoperable Stage IV cancer of the colon. “You have 42 pounds of undigested meat in there,” the doctor will sigh, “just like Elvis.”
The universe depends on my average-ness. I work three jobs and I pay a truly astounding amount of taxes to at least five separate governmental entities. I haven’t taken a non-working vacation since 2006. There is not a single assistance program anywhere for which I qualify. About a decade ago I decided to go back to school in the evenings and get my doctorate in literature. “As a 35-year-old white man,” the dean told me, “you wouldn’t be eligible for any of our assistantships.”
“Not a problem,” I replied, “I’ll pay cash. How much does the degree cost?”
“Well…” he huffed. “There’s no actual cash price per se because everybody is on assistance, which is only fair given today’s bigoted climate.”
“So I can’t pay to go to school, because nobody pays and you don’t know how much I would have to pay, because there’s no cash price for presumed bigots who are not on assistance because they’re ineligible for assistance.”
“I’m not sure that’s a fair way to phrase it.” Each and every day I have a better idea of what motivated the character of “D-FENS” in Falling Down. He, too, was an average fellow.
As fate would have it, I have a perfectly average car, and a perfectly average payment. Two of them, actually, although I only have a payment on one of them. Let’s see how they are doing.
Experian says that the average car payment is $523 per month. Amazingly enough, the payment on my Accord is $517 a month. That’s spooky close. I have six more of those payments to make and then I will own my Accord free and clear.
Last week, we cleared the 60k mark on the odometer, which means I should get some service done. The arrogant paucity of Honda’s warranty encouraged me to quit dealership servicing some time ago, a pattern I won’t break this time. The only relevant items on the recommended list are a transmission fluid change and a fuel filter replacement. Since this car occasionally sees light track use it has fairly frequent brake service and oil changes off the schedule.
Surely you won’t be surprised to hear that nothing’s gone wrong with my Accord. The general level of NVH seems to be climbing a bit, which is fairly typical with Hondas. The paint remains notable for its fragility. Two of the deepest chips on the hood are now the resigned burnt sienna of early-onset rust. I could have it fixed, but it will be less hassle to wait until the hood starts to bubble — at which point I’ll hit it with a sanding disc and paint the whole thing Rustoleum flat black in an ironic tribute to the Challenger T/A 392.
I’d like to trade the Accord in on a Challenger T/A 392. I would also like to trade it in on an Energy Green 2018 Civic Si coupe. I will do neither of these things because the idea of having no payment is simply too appealing. One of my readers did me the courtesy of locating a brand-new “6-6” coupe in California. “Last chance if you want it,” he said. I do kind of want it, but not enough to reset the payment clock.
As the photo above indicates, I’ve been using the coupe to shuttle my road bike around. It performs this task very well. It performs all tasks very well. The sheer competence of the thing has afflicted me with a disturbing sort of ennui. “How many things there are here,” the sage said in the market, “that I do not want!” In the past few months I’ve driven most of the current German iron up to the S63 AMG. I would not trade my Accord for the S63 AMG. Not even if there was no cash involved. If I want something ponderous I’ll drive my Silverado.
So the next time we discuss my little grey Honda, probably around the 75k mark, it will be paid off and, I hope, causing no trouble. There are a few things I might do for it. I happen to have a very expensive “J-pipe” sitting in my basement. It would make the car louder. I could K-Tune it for extra revs. I could get a license plate frame which says “My other car is also a Honda Accord Coupe.”
The other car, as some of you will remember, is my 2013 Accord V6. I am not making payments on this one, which is nice because I’m never sure if it’s going to come home on the wrecker. Together we have combined for five Honda Challenge wins in five starts so far this year. This past weekend I raced alone in class because the S2000s and engine-swapped Integras have stopped showing up. I can’t blame them. I reset the track record on Sunday by a full 1.7 seconds. So I’m forced to race against non-Hondas. To paraphrase a boast frequently seen on the back of diesel-powered Dodge trucks, my Accord is eatin’ Mustangs and shittin’ BMWs. It is remarkably fun to drive. It sounds somewhat crazed at the peak of its rev range. It destroys two brand-new $312 Toyo Proxes RR tires every one hour and fifteen minutes of operating time. The front ones, obviously. The rear ones do nothing. They just hold up the bumper.
As soon as I sew up the regional championship for 2018 I’m going to move to the Sport Touring class within NASA, where I will get to run against everything from turbo Miatas to Camaros. It should be fun.
Last week I was looking for something in my photo archives and I ended up taking a self-guided tour of all the neat cars I used to have and drive. Porches and Phaetons and CL55s and S8s and many things besides. The person who bought all those cars was the same person I am now, but I don’t have a good handle on what drove him. It’s not average to own three Porsches at the age of 32. It’s super-average to drive an Accord to work at the age of 46. Call it regression to the mean. I’m alright with it. The water is fine in the middle. Come on in.
Just for the amusement of you track rats, here’s the opening laps of Sunday’s race. The back tires had just been swapped and they were frosty cold, which is why it takes me about three minutes to start really putting pace on people. Have a great weekend, everyone!
[Image: Jack Baruth/TTAC]