From the Ominous Mountain State University Spectator, January 27, 2010,  p. B9.

Prepping for hijinks, fretting about Dad

Features: Wheelie Dan

NOTE:  “Wheelie Dan” columnist Dan Klabrowisz is out this week for court appearances in three different states following an adventure-filled road trip to Dollywood.  While he fights the tickets, Emily Berger of “Ask Emily,” who owes Dan a solid for filling in for her a few months ago, will be answering your automotive questions.

Dear Wheelie Dan,

Following a series of bizarre events involving roosters, foxes and possibly Batman (don’t ask), I find myself on the precipice of an exciting adventure that could take me places beyond my wildest imagination.  I’m not sure if I’ll be on some rich evil guy’s secret island, in the ramshackle walk-up of a madman or in the secret laboratory underneath a secluded gothic mansion.  All I know is that nobody I’m going with can drive.  How do I prep my car (a custom ’08 Mini) for a journey of indeterminate length?

Also, my Daddy paid for this car and gave it to me as a high school graduation gift.  He has also been paying for insurance and gas.  If this journey of indeterminate length includes a fender bender or worse (I’m thinking split in two by a high-power laser or crushed by a genetically-modified frankencreature), Daddy will positively kill me.  What do you recommend I do to explain the damage?

Daddy’s Girl

Dear Daddy’s Girl,

I know what you’re thinking: Emily is going to use this as an opportunity to rail against you and your earth-destroying car, the implications of parental automotive support on your autonomy and your Western-centric adventure story plot.  But if you think that, Daddy’s Girl, you’re just another neocon, theocrat, lookist, self-hating womyn!  You don’t even deserve the “y”!

Just kidding.

Dan and I didn’t swap columns for no reason.  My deep commitment to veganism and smashing the patriarchy didn’t keep me from winning the 2003 Michigan State Fair Junior Miss Automotive Challenge by replacing the entire transmission of a Chrysler Cordoba in 13 minutes and 27 seconds.  As for Daddy, I say take the dang car.  My dad sold me his LeBaron for $500 when I went off to college.

And the adventure plotline… you’ll be surprised to know that I’m actually working on a movie script – think The Hours meets Pineapple Express.  Unlike every other aspiring screenwriter in Hollywood who waits tables at fancy restaurants just to stuff a screenplay under Rob Reiner’s duck confit, I have a real plan.

Getting arrested for throwing vegan cream pies at people walking out of World Bank headquarters and burning stacks of Cosmo in the middle of the street means I’ve had a lot of time to network with a very captive audience (literally) of fellow travellers.  Some of them work in L.A. doing the sort of things we white-kids-with-dreads types do - like mashing up the wheatgrass at the newest raw foods joint or ear candling the rich and famous.

I can’t tell you what the trend will be when I graduate (maybe Açaí will still be a “thing,” or perhaps earth magnets), but if my protest buddies help me get a gig at a place that sells it to celebs, I’ll have access to the perfect audience for any script: hot young actors who are actively seeking out someone to tell them how to live their lives.  I’ll light some soy candles, flush out some toxins and then start talking turkey about the biz.  Well, perhaps we’ll talk Tofurky, but you get the point.

But I digress.

Here are some tips on planning for a road trip of indeterminate length:

- Check all of your fluids, including coolant, oil and wiper fluid.

- Make sure your tires are fully inflated.

- Make a supply bag with all sorts of MacGyver-esque junk you can use in a pinch.  I’m talking about paper clips, calculators, steel wool, travel-size bottles of conditioner, that sort of thing.  I’ll leave it to you to turn them into something useful.

- Snacks, snacks, snacks!

- You’re going to need some tunes.  Make playlists for every occasion, such as “Treturous Weather,” “Moment of Confrontation,” “Action Scene” and “The Earth Has Been Saved, Roll Credits.”

- Have you considered getting an oil slick doohickey or retractable wheel spikes, or is this adventure more Scooby Doo than James Bond?  If it’s the former, my advice on snacks goes double.

If Dad gets angry if you took the car through out on a school night, only to return with laser burns marring the paint job, play the “I was sooooo scared” card. Works every time.

I hope this helps.

- Emily