Car Problems, Road Trip, & Stir Fry



I wanted to focus on my WIP this weekend so I wasn’t going to write a post but as fate would have it, the weekend has been kind to me so I thought I might write something.  I also needed to step back from my story for an hour or so.  Like most of you that are writing something beyond a blog, I am questioning writing time commitments, social media balance, and general life commitments. I have both a short story and novel in progress and need to refocus a bit on both. Yeah, writer problems….

Car Problems

A few weeks ago, my son got a ticket on his way home from town. He didn’t come to a complete stop at an intersection. In New York, you are required to get an annual vehicle inspection and our inspection had expired.  I rarely drive our car and my son and wife have been sharing it for the last few months because we need to get his Jeep fixed.  Our tags are renewed every two years and we get plenty of notice that they are about to expire. The state does not do that for inspections. I suppose one could make the argument that the stickers one must place in the window should be enough visibility to an owner as to when the inspection or tags are due. It was sure visible to the cop (a friend of ours from Little League… small town living). Thankfully he only was ticketed for the inspection having just expired.

About that same time, our engine light came on, the wrench light came on, and our car made a clunking noise when shifting into reverse.  Transmission problems can be expensive and I had suspected we might need tires too. Bad timing considering we were just getting ready to pay property taxes, something my fellow New Yorkers know is painful.

We took our car in Thursday and I assumed we would spend the weekend without it. This in itself creates a logistics dilemma for us considering we have four people all needing to get home at the end of the day and I drive a little Ford Ranger truck (I should be driving a BIG truck but mine is paid for and I only spend $15 a week on gas). We made it through Thursday and Friday, and to my surprise, the garage called us Saturday morning telling us the car would be ready by noon. Tires, transmission tune-up, oil-change, a rear turning bulb, and state inspection fee. Not near the damage I was expecting on the transmission and far under what I had budgeted. I now have a legal car and official form to take to village court on Tuesday.

Road Trip

On our way to pick up the car, my wife suggested we head to the city to take the kids shopping and have dinner (you know, because we now had extra money.. I know women understand this).  We haven’t done this since before Christmas and her argument made sense. If we went yesterday, we could relax today… and I could get some writing in. Neither of us felt like cooking so it sounded logical to me. Deal.

The car ran beautiful on the trip there. She got her fix at Michaels and Hobby Lobby, the kids got theirs at Target, T.J. Maxx, and Burlington Coat Factory, and I bought a few books at Barnes & Noble.  We decided on Chile’s for dinner after not finding a parking place at an Italian place. Probably the better decision anyway considering two of us weren’t keen on Italian food yesterday. We had a wonderful dinner and I had my first Summer Ale of the year. I am somewhat of an oddity when it comes to beer. I have my last beer of the year sometime in early December and don’t have another one until sometime in March or April. Our snow has melted, it’s sunny, and in the fifties. That beer tasted so good.

Stir Fry

Stomachs full, our extra money and then some spent, we were on our way home listening to an Earth Wind & Fire CD my 12 year old son bought. There is something special about my children enjoying music I listened to growing up. My eldest went through it a little by getting caught up in eighties music. My youngest however has downloaded music from both the eighties and a decade earlier. What sort of 12 year old listens to Cat Stevens? We also listened to some other oldies and about an hour into our ride home, my wife shouts at me, asking if I “knew what today was.”  Ugh, Saturday?  A good day? A day to be thankful our small town mechanic is honest?

She said it was our anniversary. Not our wedding anniversary but the anniversary of the day we met. We both always remember these things but our life has been a bit hectic as of late. Neither of us remembered yesterday but one of the songs fueled a memory of a tape I had made her so many years ago. Yes, this was back before digital music and playlists.

Twenty three years ago in Arizona, a buddy of mine showed up on my front porch asking me if I wanted to go out to a nearby lake with him, his brother, and his cousin. She was from NY and visiting him on her spring break.  She was blond, wearing a tie die one piece short outfit, too white for April, and annoyed the shit out of me for the next few hours. Despite that, we had a great time and all went out to dinner and a bar later that evening. After the bar, my buddy and his cousin followed me back to my house with everyone now hungry again.  While I was standing in the kitchen cooking, my buddy headed off to the bathroom. During the few minutes he was gone, his cousin kissed me. Yes, alcohol played a part but I was sober enough to realize I was kissing my buddy’s cousin and it freaked me out a little. He came back in the room, we all ate an early morning meal and they were on their way. The next day, they were back and we spent an awkward day together, made even more awkward by day’s end when my buddy asked me if I would entertain his cousin during the evenings for the next week while he worked his second shift job. I agreed.  The next weekend, she went home. My buddy joked that she and I would be a good match. That surprised me considering he knew me and how many years I had been single not to mention the crazy eighties I had lived through. I was NOT the guy you wanted dating your sister or cousin.

Less than three months later, I mailed a one way plane ticket to a girl in New York. My buddy and I split the cost of the ticket. She came.

The first meal I ever made my wife was stir fry chicken twenty three years ago yesterday.

Until next time…



Sometime in 1992


Photo (stir fry) courtesy of 



  1. fillyourownglass

    Aw, thanks for sharing the story of how you and your wife met- so sweet! I’m glad the car problems weren’t more of a headache. The “BIG truck” comment made me laugh…that is as much a guy thing as the “extra money” is a woman thing. Too funny! 🙂

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thanks Karen! I went to court today for my son (I mistakenly thought since the car was in my name, I should be the one to show up). They were understanding and there was no fine. Funny how things work out.

  2. Shareen Mansfield

    “We had a wonderful dinner and I had my first Summer Ale of the year.”


    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thanks Shareen. Hope you are feeling better 🙂

  3. philosophoenix

    There’s always room for memoir in media res. This was a sweet story–isn’t it funny how little we often note the best things to happen to us while they’re happening?

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Seems to be a common theme with me as of late. Thanks Erin 🙂

  4. E.L. Wicker

    Aww, such a beautiful story about you ad your wife!

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thanks Em! I had waited until she had gone back to NY to tell her cousin that we “sort of” started something during my week of entertaining her. And here I sit so many years later.

  5. Dena Rogers

    Love this! It sounds like the beginning of a romance novel. I’m just saying!

    Ford Rangers are awesome. D had one for 16 years and did not take very good care of it. It was still running like a gem when we sold it last year and got the upgraded F150 model (total gas guzzler). It’s been by far the best vehicle we’ve ever had.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Hey, you can use that, lol. I will have a BIG truck someday.

  6. Ula

    What a beautiful how we met story. Always love hearing/reading those.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thank you Ula. It was not something I was looking for at the time. Funny how that worked out.

  7. Christy Birmingham

    Aw, I like that story of how you and your wife met. Also, it is nice to read a post of thankfulness 🙂

    • W.C. Cunningham

      I have a lot to be thankful for and that trumps the things I am not thankful for 🙂 Thanks for reading Christy.

  8. Shareen Mansfield

    ReadiNg again. Wondering, would you contribute a piece to my page? Much like coffee your blog gives you a nice kick while spreading the warmth.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Sure, I could do that. Email an Idea of what you have in mind.

  9. Shawna Ayoub Ainslie

    Aw. I love where you ended this. <3

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thanks Shawna!

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