Thursday, December 14, 2006

What a Long Strange Trip—Robin

My husband has put his patchouli, Birkenstock, tie-dye days behind him and finally made good on his idea to become a true blue hippie. (Not that you’d know it…he cut all his hair off years ago and actually spends his free time Googling Britney Spears. Well, who doesn’t?).

This past year hubby purchased a 1983 Mercedes diesel sedan and converted the fuel tank to run on used vegetable oil that he siphons out of a barrel from the back alley of our local sushi restaurant. Kid…you…not.

When he first presented the idea to me, I thought, “Sure, honey. You start your cute little hobby. I’ll just be over here in the corner typing out silly little stories. What’s the harm, right!?”

What I didn’t realize was that within a few months, we would have a stockpile of over 400 gallons of used soybean oil and a garage that resembled what I assume a meth lab looks like.

Hubbie got way, WAY into his “little hobby.” He joined list serves and purchased equipment from specialty aquarium stores (because how else is he going to heat the oil to transfer it through the filters and blah, blah, blah?). He got to know all the local people who run on veggie (one of our local high school principals!) and I think I noticed him giving secret handshakes to members of his underground veggie network. Weirdness everywhere.

I decided that the moment he came to me and said he planned on attending the national veggie car conference and was planning on dressing up in drag in order to win the costume contest…that would be it. Hobby over.

But I found myself reading the emails from other local veggie people, and thinking about what an utterly cool thing he is doing. Not just for the environment or for our wallet (it’s free gas!) but for our little boy. At night, I peek my head out of the door and look into the meth lab/veggie production area, and see the silhouettes of my son and his father in front of an old lamp teetering on the edge of a barrel and I listen to them talk about the oil…where it comes from and what it’s used for. And my boy turns to me and says, “Mommy, look! I’m pumping oil for Daddy’s car! A Mercedes…a classic!” (Again…kid…you…not. My husband has trained him to say “Mercedes…a classic” every time he mentions the car).

Not only am I excited that my son will learn so much about fuel (I like to tell my husband, “We’re putting the FUN back in fuel!”) but it’s also fodder for good storytelling. What I thought was a bizarre hobby (that sometimes involves me saying, “Eeeeww, honey! What IS that?” after he hugs me), is now an interesting slice of life that will definitely make it into my next book.

I’m already thinking of a title. How about…VEGGIE TALES. (A classic!)



Disco Mermaids said...

Hey! There's absolutely, positively nothing wrong with dressing in drag to win costume contests. Nothing! (It's very freeing, actually.)

Another classic, Robin.

- Jay

Scott Cook said...

I would love to see pictures of this classic! As well as the engine/mechanism that runs it. Is there any way we can talk your husband into making some kind of video podcast about his production process? Just a thought, I really am interested in this.
By the way, how have you guys been?