Thursday, February 21, 2008


1978, I was 18, just got my drivers license and my parents bought me a Volkswagen Beetle for 700 Dutch Guilders (about €300). It was a white one and the first thing I did was painting its wings black. I also wrote the name “SJEINTJE” (from the Yiddish "sheinele" meaning "cutie") on the back. My grandmother had knitted a big multicolor snake filled with old hoses to put on the back seat.

About two weeks after I got my car I already wrecked it while playing with the snake instead of watching the road. I found myself another VW bug wrack for 70 guilders and reconstructed a new one out of the two I had. Since I had a spare steering wheel, I placed it as a dummy in front of the co-drivers seat. (It was our fun to look at their astonished faces when people looked inside the car while we were driving and when I turned the car left but when the front-passenger ostentatiously steered to the right.) I wasn’t able to fix the screen washer so I placed a manual spray can. The windscreen wipers I had to move by hand, pulling a cord that I had attached to them. (Not the best solution because one day in the pouring rain when driving the highway I lost both of them.) Another thing that I couldn’t make working were the indicators. To solve that I simply put my hand out of the window in the direction I wanted to drive. The exhaust valve was all rusted and that I fixed with empty bean cans from which I took both lids and attached it with metal strand. The front case cover was also attached with a string after it had spontaneously opened blinding my sight while driving the highway.

I car-pooled with other students, to save money we would split the costs. So one day, I had my car full with four other students and two guitars, I was driving back to the city I studied. Notwithstanding all the ingenuity I showed combining the two cars, I must have done something wrong because when it became dark and I turned on my lights the engine turned off. We drove the last 40-km over a dike in darkness and whenever we saw a car approaching we lighted our cigarette lighters. It was by far the spookiest trip I ever made.

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