Over the years, people have called me a “big ass.” No one can call me a “tight ass” when it comes to money, though I have sadly been told I have one “tight white ass” on the dance floor. My wife has kindly told me I have a “nice tight ass.” Fortunately, no one has ever told me I have a “big ass.” No “big booty” calls or jokes about the “junk in my trunk.”
Let me say though, I like having a big booty when it comes to my car. It is there that real junk packs my trunk. The booty on my 1999 Honda Civic is my mobile closet, gym locker, camera case and sports gear depository.
Spring is the worst time of the year for my rolling storage unit. The uncertainty of the Kansas weather requires preparedness for anything and everything. Commuting from Topeka to Lawrence prevents quick hops home for needed supplies. Scarily, things build up. By the end of the Kansas Relays, it was time for some much-needed liposuction.
Here is what emerged.
- Four cameras and six lenses ranging from a super wide fisheye lens to a 600mm f4 telephoto lens. (These do not reside in the trunk. Remember, this was the day after the Relays. All camera gear, here and below, is safely locked away every day.)
- Two Bogen Magic Arms and clamps. Four Pocket Wizards, shutter release cords and three 100ft. extension cords for various remotes.
- A fanny pack (another rear end reference) and a small day pack for carrying gear.
- Two rolls of gaffer tape. (a photographer’s best friend – gaffer tape makes duct tape seem like Scotch Tape)
- A mini tripod for ground remotes, a plexiglass housing for a steeplechase remote, a carbon fiber monopod.
- Three different pairs of adidas running shoes (better than Vans for support during the long hours on my feet – multiple pairs for forecasted rain)
- One pair of slip-on Vans (can’t leave home without them)
- One pair of Chaco Flip Flops.
- Two hats (rarely wear one unless it is raining or the bed head is really bad)
- Multiple towels, rain covers for cameras/lenses and garbage bags of various sizes
- Two stocking caps, gloves, wool socks and hand warmer packets for cold spring baseball/softball games.
- Personal clothing including jeans, shorts, socks, t-shirts and a camp shirt.
- Rain suit.
- Two cans of Coke and a can of V8 juice.
- KU clothing including a fleece vest, two hoodies, short-sleeved wind shirt, sweat pants, rain jacket, light jacket and various KU shirts.
- Four reusable grocery bags from Mountain Momma’s Natural Foods in Colorado Springs.
- A softball bucket. (look in any dugout and you’ll find coaches sitting on one – a padded top for sitting and an easy carry-all for gear and clothing to and from games – invaluable)
- Floor bicycle pump, spare tubes
My Honda is a “beater.” My work equipment and our gear for all our outdoor pursuits take their toll. Rocket owns the backseat. The car is dirty and worn, but it runs and runs without protest thanks to Rod, our fabulous mechanic. I have changed over the years and my car is the reflection of that change.
Last Saturday, Laura was driving her 1995 Honda Civic to Kansas City for a rowing regatta between KU and Kansas State. She pulled over to make the photograph of her odometer hitting 200,000 miles. That same day, my 1999 Honda Civic’s odometer sat at 187,309. Our 2005 Subaru Outback has carried us over 103,000. Our cars are beasts of burden.
That is quite a change from my days of BMW ownership where working for a day detailing either my 1977 320i or my 2000 528i Sport was a pleasure. That dedication allowed me to sell my first BMW in 1985 with over 150,000 miles for less than a $1,000 under the $10,000 price I paid for it new. Naturally, there were people who called my car obsession “a pain in the ass.”
All that changed when I started working at KU. The commute is hard. The hours are incredibly long for both of us. Our free-time interests changed again and again with more and more gear added to the load. Something had to give. Detailing a car had to go.
Every time I see the beauty that is an older BMW – before the esteemed German car maker lost its designing way – I get pangs. Then I think about my cousin, Jim Pflug. He lives in Omaha but commutes to Lincoln daily as the President of the Lincoln Stars hockey team.
He put 360,000 miles on a 1990 Honda Accord before donating it to a Sudanese immigrant at his church. Another Accord, carried Jim, his son and daughter 250,000 miles before another car crashed into it and totaled the 1995 Honda. Jim’s current 1996 Acura has hummed along between Omaha and Lincoln for another 225k. Those figures have become benchmarks for the new Jacobsen automobile standard. That, and how I can fit a kayak on top of the roof along with our bikes.
Therefore, to all those people who have accused me of being a “real hard ass” impossible of change, let me just say, “Kiss my booty and all the junk in my Honda’s trunk.”