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my trusty Kent black squirrel sticker, one of the best charms a girl pushing 50 can have on her mini-van’s backside

Long ago, after giving a friend of mine a massage, I asked how she felt and she said “Are you kidding? I feel like a million bucks!” This was the way she talked.

Feeling like a million bucks is not a phrase in my vernacular, but today I took my 2000 Toyota mini-van, all 163,000 miles of it, to get its state inspection. You know it failed inspection 2 years in-a-row, right?

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the “ass” of my car

My daughter fastened all the seat belts before I dropped her off at school, a good omen.

At 8:15 this morning, the second-to-the-last day of the month, I pulled into the Sunoco station on Route 9, handed over my registration and 29 dollars to the grizzled but friendly mechanic, and parked my ass in the dingy, fume-y, dusty “waiting room,” chatting up a plumber and the woman behind the cash register. With baited breath (at least mentally baited breath), I bided my time. The car passed inspection.

I usually don’t have to leave the house for whole days at a time. I don’t drive my kids to school but once or twice a season. But today, I actually got dressed. I pulled on my skinniest jeans, by which I mean, they are not skinny jeans, but they are the only pair that may make my ass appear with some semblance of youth and dignity, by which I mean, they are snug and tight with just the right amount of stretch to make sure all loose flesh is tautened into a neat package. It’s not like I’m going to turn heads, but I felt like I was turning heads as I slid on the icy lot walking away from the Sunoco waiting room back to my car. I am sure heads were turning because of my faux-skating and not my ass.

These days, the car is missing portions of its hubcaps. It has no handle on the rear passenger side door. One of the sliding doors no longer latches, making it slide closed when parked on a hill. The windows make a slow grinding sound on raising and lowering, in protest of having to work so hard. The inside backseat air vents are missing their louvered covers. Only half of the dashboard lights up. The heating makes a whistling sound when it’s on full blast. But Fucking A. My husband presented me with this car in July, 2000, just weeks before we relocated our entire life to Western Massachusetts.

It’s falling apart, it doesn’t get the best mileage. It’s beaten and banged and bruised. But it’s mine. I drove away from the Sunoco feeling like a million bucks.

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my min-van, not a metaphor for my bodily state or anything

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