Send help! 3-24: The short lived life of the Lorson family Jeep

By JOHN LORSON Columnist Published:

Three months ago I wrote of the sudden, if not quite untimely, demise of my beaten yet beloved Plymouth Neon, Zippy. As the story went, I limped Zippy into the asphalt corral of a used car lot, took the reins of a shiny, green Jeep and bounded away. If my world turned on happy endings that little Jeep and I would have one day been a speck disappearing against a sunset horizon. Alas, if there is to be such an ending for either man or Jeep, one thing is for sure, the two of us will not be together.

The reactions of both my kin and closest friends had ranged from shock to utter disbelief when I rolled up in the new ride. As random and spontaneous as my life might sometimes seem from these writings, the truth is that when it comes to spending money I'm about as impulsive as a pounded nail. My people were mystified, even dumb-founded, that I would have hauled-off and purchased something so seemingly "fancy," not to mention so utterly impractical. After much debate and deliberation they came to the conclusion the Jeep was essentially a bird-chasing, dog-loving, mountain-bike-racing dirtball's version of a little red sports car. The knowledge I had taken possession of the Jeep one day before my 49th birthday seemed to elevate this theory to the level of law! I was declared by all to be in the throes of a full-fledged mid-life crisis!

Admittedly, the idea of leaving for the day in one car and arriving home at night in entirely another was a move that took me by surprise just as much as the rest of the world; but necessity did play a large role here. Zippy was down to her final hours and when I stopped to merely check out the Jeep, the salesman told me, as salesmen sometimes do, that I was not the only one interested.

"Yeah, well there's another guy looking at it," he said. "I'm not trying to rush you, but he was pretty hot on this thing!"

The Jeep was spotless, had low miles and ran like a four-wheel-drive Swiss watch. For once in my life I put careful deliberation aside and pulled the trigger. (Turns out the "other guy" was my Rotary brother, Bill, whose jaw dropped as I parked "his" Jeep outside our meeting just days after he'd seen it vanish overnight from the used car lot.)

A fresh start in a new car. What could possibly go wrong?

Kinetics and heredity are not typical considerations when one contemplates the purchase of an automobile. One would assume that any sort of anatomical mismatch between man and machine would quickly manifest itself during the course of the test drive, thus sparing him the heartbreak and expense of admitting a mistake. Unfortunately, it took me nearly a month to realize the steadily expanding pain and increasingly noticeable limp in my left leg had begun shortly after I had subscribed to a relentless daily regimen of clutching-and-shifting. To a normal man no harm would fall from these motions, but to the possessor of my particular model of the famously fickle "Lorson knee," Jeep ownership proved to be a slowly unfolding disaster.

The doctor confirmed the cause of my hobble, and a mere three months after taking the wheel I signed the title over to my Jeep-dejected buddy, Bill, whose world at that moment seemed entirely more attuned to happy endings!

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