There are eight spark plugs in the Eddie Bauer edition of Ford's 2001 Expedition. Eight. And if one of them isn't working properly - if it becomes loose or stripped or a gremlin sneaks under the hood and gobbles it up (a common problem in Fords) - the whole car is pretty much fucked. Crazy. Goodie Mob had, like, one good guy out of four and they were still pretty good. No matter. Ford Expeditions do not care about the number of hits Cee-Lo's old group had. One monkey stops their show like a motherfucker. I know this because Monday, one of the sparkplugs in my Expedition went wongo on the way from Corpus to Houston. The whole scenario was pretty unspectacular: There was some driving (this is fun enough), then an awful, horrible knocking noise (THUDTHUDTHUD...), then some confusion: Did I just wander over onto those ridges on the side of the road that prevent people from driving into the median?
Then some realizing something nefarious was afoot (nope, I did not), then some cursing (son of a bitch), then some "What's a sunabitch, Daddy" questions to field (ah crap, forgot the boys were in the back), then some under-the-breath cursing, then some pulling off to the side of the road, then some wading through the awful steps of the My Car Is Broken In A Town Where I Don't Know Anyone Or Anything process for the next nine hours. Matter of fact, this article you're reading was typed on a phone because somehow -somehow - I ended up in a place that did not immediately offer a computer for me to operate or the Internet for me to surf (for shame, Odem, TX).
So, at 11:04 p.m. my time, with the boys asleep a little in an unfamiliar bed and a little more tainted than they were this morning, and with the poor wife balled up on a couch looking very much like her neck is going to be kicking her ass in the morning, and with it impossible to do any sort of work on the car at the moment - on account of the darkness as much as the fact that there may be some Klansmen wandering around outside - I wrote a playlist of songs to go along with my five stages of grief today.
Medical Definition: Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of possessions and individuals that will be left behind after death. Song: K's Choice, "Not An Addict*" Why: Duh. That's pretty much what the entire song is about. Easy pick.
*In the mid-90's, EVERYBODY was listening to this sort of rock. At least, everyone that was trying to make people think they were really introspective, anyway. Fuck it. You know what it is.
Medical Definition: Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy.
Song: Every DMX Song
Why: No rapper has ever been as furious for as an extended amount of time as DMX.
Medical Definition: The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just do something to buy more time..." Song: Trae, "Give My Last Breath" Why: H.A.W.K.'s pulverizing contemplation: "I would give my last breath if I could bring you back, bring Screw back, matter of fact, bring the whole crew back." Not necessarily the same thing here, but close enough.
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Medical Definition: During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
Song: Geto Boys, "Mind Playing Tricks On Me"
Why: Well, for one, because everyone should listen to this song at least twice a day, but also because of Scarface's verse. A couple of snippets that are appropriate here, even if you only need to siphon a modicum of desperation: "Day by day it's more impossible to cope..."; "I know the Lord is looking at me, but yet and still it's hard for me to feel happy"; "having fatal thoughts of suicide." Actually, I only considered buying a new car, not suicide, but still.
Medical Definition: In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with their mortality, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event.
Song: Bruce Hornsby & the Range, "The Way It Is"
Why: Because, fuck man, that's just the way it is.
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This life is the worst. Here's to hoping Houston soil is under my feet again soon.
As of late Tuesday, Shea had had his car repaired - or so he thought - but it broke down again five minutes after he left the mechanic. He caught a ride to San Antonio, where he borrowed his dad's truck and, last we heard, was on his way back to Houston. Pray for him. - Ed.