By the time Sir Monkeypants came back from North Carolina, I had got to feeling a little spoiled about driving to work and didn’t want to go back to the bus (although I did, for a while). We decided it was time to think about getting a second car.
I felt like the Mazda was HIS car, and thus, I should get to pick out the new car. But whereas I didn’t really give a crap about what we got – I cared much more about the colour than anything else – Sir Monkeypants was INTO cars and cared deeply about what we got. He really, really wanted a sportier car to toodle around in and take for long drives and feel warmly about as young men seem to do with cars. So I agreed to let him choose the car, as long as I got to pick out the next one, no questions asked.
Sir Monkeypants did a lot of research and test driving, but really I think he knew from the beginning that he wanted an Acura Integra, and we ended up buying a 1998 model in silver. At first it was just The Integra, but tomorrow I will explain how this car came to be named Spencer, and Spencer is what we still call it now when we’re talking about it.
Sir Monkeypants really, really loved that car, and I really kind of disliked that car. Sir Monkeypants found it fun to drive and quick to respond and other driverly things, and he loved the hatchback that let us put a bunch of stuff in it without it being bulky or boxy, and he loved the colour and the totally rad stereo that had a CD player. I did not like that it was so low to the ground – getting in and out in heels was always dangerous, and when I did drive it, which was rare, I could barely see over the dashboard. For some reason I always found its standard transmission harder to handle than the Mazda, and I also didn’t like that it was a two-door model, so the doors were huge, and whenever we were parked somewhere it was always touch-and-go whether or not I was going to be able to squeeze out. But Sir Monkeypants was happy, and I had the Mazda to drive, so I rode in Spencer rarely and drove it almost never, and it was all good. Spencer saw us through years of drives down to Southern Ontario visit the folks, many camping trips, and a two-week long driving tour of the maritimes.
Spencer only really gave us trouble twice. Once, while parked in the driveway of our new townhouse at night, someone broke into it and stole the seats. The front bucket seats. Cut them right out – it was a professional job, not pranking teens, because the lock had been expertly popped and certain wires that needed to be cut and bolts that needed to be removed had been severed cleanly. Both Sir Monkeypants and I were pretty traumatized by this incident; new seats had to be ordered from Japan at a cost of $6000 (thankfully covered by insurance) and the poor Integra was out of commission for two months.
The other time was after we’d had it for a few years, and it developed a weird electrical problem. It was one of those things like you’d see on a comedy show on TV – when the back defroster was on and you turned the radio to a certain channel, the wipers wouldn’t work, that sort of thing. We kind of worked around it for a long time before deciding that it was worth fixing no matter the cost, so we took it in to a local garage and challenged them to find the short in the system. We agreed to pay for eight hours of labour – I think that was in the neighbourhood of $1200 – and the guy who took on the project ended up putting in at least three times that amount searching for it. He knew we wouldn’t be paying for it but it was like his white whale, he just couldn’t let it go. Eventually after three days he DID find it, and fixed it, and we were grateful, but I think he was just happy to have us take it out of the shop where he couldn’t see it anymore. Hope he’s able to sleep soundly at night now.
Spencer’s license place started with ACKV. We still have it, but it’s on a different car now.