I Customized My WheelsCommentary • ISSUE 36•10 • Mar 22, 2000 By Jim Anchower – The Cruise Hola, amigos. Whaddya say? I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I been real busy. First off, I got a new job at a hospital doing food service. It's not like I have to feed a bunch of dying geezers or nothing. I stand behind a sneeze guard in the cafeteria all day and ladle mashed potatoes and shit onto people's plates. It ain't too bad: You get free food and don't have to talk much to people. The only drawback is you gotta wear one of those old-lady hairnets. The other problem is, it only pays $6.40 an hour. That would be okay if I weren't trying to sock some cash away for a new set of wheels. It's not that my current car ain't running. It's just that it's a damn '88 Volkswagen Golf, and you better believe that won't cut it for a style-minded man of the cruise like myself. After a month and a half at the hospital, though, I only had $106 saved up, so I decided to give up and just make do with the Golf. Make lemons out of lemonade, as they say. I figured if I was going to be stuck with this car, I was going to make the best of it, so I spent the better part of last Saturday working it over. I changed the oil and plugs. I made sure the tires were up to the proper pressure. I threw some pepper in with the coolant so the little pinholes in the radiator would be plugged. I even wiped all the crud off the engine so it would look nice next time I had to pop the hood. By the time I was done, I was pretty hammered, though, because nothing goes better with car repair than beer. Now, the car was running fine, but that didn't change the fact that it was a crappy-looking two-door hatchback. I mean, it would get you around, but it wouldn't get you any action. Unfortunately, there wasn't a whole lot I could do. I tried to spruce it up with some fancy detail work and a Zep sticker on the back window. Then I bought some pinstripe stickers so it would look more aerodynamic, but it just looked like a box with stripes. I was going over and over in my mind how I could make it look cooler, and eventually, I realized what it needed: a hood painting! Something that said, "Look out, world, here comes Jim Anchower!" I couldn't afford to have it painted by a pro, so I decided to have Ron do it for me. You wouldn't expect it, but he's real good at drawing. One time, I saw him draw a picture like on the cover of one of those old Yes albums. It had dinosaurs and spaceships and shit on some kind of futuristic planet, then in the middle he drew this barbarian guy dressed all in furs with this half-naked woman hanging onto his leg. It was awesome. I gave Ron a call to see if he was up for the task. I had to buy him off with a few joints I'd been saving, but he said he'd be up for it. I asked him what sort of paint he'd need. He said he didn't know, so I went out to a fancy art store and dropped my last $20 on some paint in tubes. I asked the clerk to make sure it wouldn't wash off in the rain. He said it wouldn't. That was all I needed to hear. When I got back to my place, Ron was already there waiting for me. He seemed pretty psyched to do the job. He even had some ideas he wanted to go over with me. First, he showed me an old Nazareth album. It was the one with "Hair Of The Dog" on it. You know, that song where the guy goes, "Now you're messin' with a... SON OF A BITCH!" I think the album was called Hair Of The Dog, too. It had this kick-ass barbarian guy on it, and he meant business. It looked really cool, but after giving it some thought, I decided I didn't want some big man with muscles on my hood. It might seem kinda queer. I asked Ron if he could do a dragon. I told him it had to be scary like the one in Dragonslayer or that movie with Sean Connery as the dragon, only less talky and more mean. Ron said he didn't have any examples on hand, but he could probably come up with something from his head. He said his head might fill up better if he could smoke up first. I decided that was reasonable, so we went in for a quick bowl. After getting properly baked, me and Ron went back out to the car. He laid all the paints and brushes out like he was a serious artist. Then he squeezed a bunch of the paints onto an old board. He stared at the hood for about 30 seconds, then closed his eyes, then stared at the hood again. He did that about 10 times before telling me he had an idea and that I should go in the house. I told him I wasn't going anywhere. He said okay and started staring at the hood some more. Fuck it, I thought. If he was gonna work like that, I was going inside. I laid out on the couch and turned on the tube. Every once in a while, I looked out the window to see how he was doing. Half the time, he had his face up close to the hood, painting like he was real focused. The other half, he was standing back, staring at it. Then I dozed off for a while. When I came to, Ron was standing over me. He said he was finished. I went out to see what he did. I couldn't believe it. Most of it was cool, but it had a head of pink hair like the dragon in Pete's Dragon. And it had an extra tail. Ron said he wasn't happy about where the first tail wound up, so he put in a second one. I started to get steamed. Then he said that he didn't know what the fuck he was thinking when he put the hair on, but he was sure he could fix that, too. I told him to get the hell away from me and my car before I blew my cork. So now I got my car running, and it almost looks badass, but not quite. Yesterday, a schoolbus full of middleschoolers pulled up to me at a red light, and they were all pointing and laughing. I decided I was only going to drive it at night from then on. Nothing's worse than being laughed at by kids whose asses you could kick without a second thought.