Handing over the keys to the Purple People Eater

It was the weekend before Memorial Day weekend in 2002. I had joined a beach house on Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore, and it dawned upon me that I might need some sort of vehicle to transport me to LBI, among other things.

The Purple People Eater, after one last car wash.

The Purple People Eater, after one last car wash.

After what looked to be a fruitless day of car shopping, I stopped at one last lot and, buried behind cars that were way above and beyond my means (BMW, Audi, Mercedes), I spotted a 1997 Honda Accord.

The good news: The car was exactly what I was looking for. Hondas are reliable stalwarts, and I was looking for something 1997 or newer, because insurance was cheaper for cars of that age at the time. And it was within my price range, or, more accurately, at the very top of my price range. The bad news: It was purple (really dark purple, not Grape Ape purple, but still purple), with gold trim.

However, when shopping for used cars, you have to make sacrifices, so, despite the fact that the gold trim made me want to hurl all over the hood, I drove the 1997 Honda Accord home to Hoboken that day, and it remained with me until Martin Luther King Jr. Day of this year, when I finally traded it in.

All relationships have their highlights and lowlights, and my relationship with the Purple People Eater was no exception. So, without further ado:

The good:

  • The Accord got me down to LBI for several summers, where, among other things, I relaxed on the beach, drank until I forgot how much I hated the planet, met several people who are now close friends, and got to know the future Mrs. 9.
  • The Accord was also my primary mode of transportation to Brendan Byrne Arena/Continental Airlines Arena/Izod Center, former home of the New Jersey Nets, during the glorious run with Jason Kidd that included consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.
  • And the Accord got myself and several teammates to many Bar None and Big Easy football games. We won the championship of our league in 1996, before the Accord was even born, but we had a successful and fun run, with multiple playoff victories, and the Purple People Eater carried many of us to Randall’s Island, or Grand Street and the FDR Drive, and to the bar afterward for wings and liquid refreshments (only two for me, thanks, I have to drive, and NO shots!).
  • The Accord was part of many a tailgate in the Giants Stadium parking lot prior to glorious shows by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and other shows at other venues, including my favorite band, Rush, at the PNC Bank Arts Center and Jones Beach (most uncomfortable, hottest show I’ve ever sat through).

The bad:

  • The brakes on the Accord always sucked, no matter how many times I had them adjusted, and how many different mechanics looked at them. Even though I drove the car for 11 years, I never got used to that nervous feeling whenever I had to stop quickly. And I feel bad for people who were passengers in other cars I drove, because years of having to push down as hard as humanly possible on the Accord’s brakes constantly caused me to slam on the brakes of other cars and send everything within those cars spiraling forward.
  • This was obviously not the fault of the car (or of the driver, I might add), but back in 2008, the Accord met Pothole-Zilla, and the Accord lost, badly, to the tune of two new tires, a new radiator, a new radiator cap, two new hoses, and more than $800 of hard-earned Benjamins.
  • The following year, my transmission died, and I have been driving on a rebuilt transmission since. It worked fine, for the most part, except that I was strongly advised to let the oil temperature rise for a few minutes before driving the car, and I have the same patience level as most native New Yorkers, which is basically zero.
  • The gold H. Many have perished in pursuit of it.

    The gold H. Many have perished in pursuit of it.

    Around the same time, I noticed a spot on the roof where the paint had begun to wear away. Over the next few months, this spot began to spread like an STD through a Hoboken bar, to the point where I feared that the roof would rust over and cave in one day. While I love convertibles, this wasn’t quite what I had in mind. So, in the interest of selling or trading in the car somewhere down the line, I spent about $2,000 on a complete repainting and detailing. The only good thing to come out of it was that part of the process included removing the God-forsaken gold trim and replacing it with a traditional chrome trim that made the car much less of an eyesore. I kept the gold H from the grill as a souvenir, and I may mount it on a gold rope chain one day so I can sport my very own hip-hop necklace.

  • The motor that drives the power windows needed replacing. The windows would go down, but I would have to jiggle the switch hundreds of times until something connected and the windows would roll back up.
  • The controls for the air conditioning/heating and defroster only worked if you punched the console Arthur Fonzarelli-style, and even then, only about one-half of the time.
  • And just in case I had any lingering doubts as to whether I was making the right move, when I started the Accord for the final time to drive it to the dealership and turn it in, I noticed that only one headlight was working due to a short.

While it was definitely time to part ways with the Purple People Eater, I had a lot of good memories with the car, and I will definitely miss it. I am now driving a dark grey 2010 Nissan Rogue, and I am sure I will grow to love this car, too. It’s in great condition, and it’s a lot of fun to drive, and I hope the memories I will create with the Rogue match up with those from the Accord, although that’s a pretty tall task.

Farewell, Purple People Eater, and thank you for the companionship and a job well done (for the most part).


The Hangover, 9nine9-style

My bachelor party was this weekend. As I type this late Monday morning into early Monday afternoon, my entire body is exhausted, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It was a great weekend, for a number of reasons.

The Hangover

My bachelor party did not include any of the following: strippers, midgets, farm animals, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, tigers in the bathroom, missing teeth (although I did spend four hours and 45 minutes in the dentist’s chair just prior to the start of the festivities Friday), hookers, lap dances, lubricants, road trips, gambling, strip clubs, blow-up dolls, law enforcement, prison, missing friends, and probably several other things stored in parts of my brain that haven’t been reached by the caffeine in my Dunkin Donuts iced coffee yet.

Some people may read this and think the festivities were tame and lame. As I said, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. For me, this weekend was all about spending time with my friends, many of whom beat me to the altar and are already well into raising beautiful families. What can I say? I was always a procrastinator. But when we reach this stage of our lives, it’s so difficult to get everyone together in the same restaurant, bar, or other location, and being able to spend time with older and newer friends was fantastic.

The last part of the festivities was a return to a place where I used to be bar furniture: Bar None. I actually only had two beers the entire time I was there, but I would be a poor writer if I left out the fact that those beers were entire pitchers of Guinness. I saw so many people I haven’t seen in years, and the time gap didn’t matter: We picked up right where we left off, and I was truly touched by the turnout.

Plus, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m 42: I love beer just as much as I did in my 20s, and I can still throw them back with the best of them, but back-to-back nights are really, really tough.

As for the absence of, shall we say, entertainment: I’m not morally opposed to strippers, strip bars, etc., and I don’t look down on anyone who’s into that stuff or think any differently of them, but it just never did anything for me. When I was single, I found the experience more frustrating than anything, because I found it to be pointless and a complete waste of money, and I felt like rather than relieving the loneliness and boredom of being single, all it did was highlight it and make it worse. So the exclusion of that stuff from this past weekend was 100% fine with me, and I’m not just saying this to score brownie points.

At this stage of my life, being able to share the whole weekend or parts of the weekend with good friends from all of the other stages of my life was a far more valuable, rewarding and fun experience than being tied to a pole in a strip club with my own belt (which did happen to me years ago and was pretty damn funny, actually, but would have been out-of-place this weekend).

And dealing with our three cats is enough wildlife exposure for me: I’m happy I don’t have to figure out a way to return Mike Tyson’s tiger.