so i went and bought a mercedes. my mother is jealous, but she hasn't seen the extent to which this noble machine has been beaten and abused. i feel a certain compassion and woe for it. it smokes, not just from the tail pipe, but from a cloud emerging from the engine and wafting into the car upon start-up. it piddles an as-yet-unidentified petrol-based liquid, the coolant is blackened and sweet. any incline over 30 degrees requires a redlined 2nd gear and dogged 20 mph. the passenger side handle has been forcibly removed, the gear shift boot has been replaced with dog fur, the power switches to windows and antenna are sticky and shorted... but he had been loved. as it turns out, i know one of the previous owners, 3 possessions removed. she's my boss. and her husband is a mechanic. the bad news, he tells me, is that they sold it because it smoked. having recently quit myself, i know how hard it can be, so i've decided to stick with the little guy, show him he's worth caring for. i know he'll get up to speed, i know his steering will tighten, his reflexes sharpening; i know the stereo will blast out of the sunroof as the vegetarian engine gargles its way down the alcan, purring like a domesticated lion. with therapy, time and requisite deposits of capital gain, he'll get his balls back. maybe some of his scars won't ever disappear, but at least he'll live with some dignity.