Tires Under the Christmas Tree

We own three cars: a 2000 Plymouth Voyager, a 1997 Saturn Wagon, and a 1991 Chevy Lumina. They have a combined age of 33 years, and combined mileage of 350,000 miles (or, in celestial terms, collectively they've traveled to the moon and nearly half the way back).

The '91 Lumina is my mail "truck." I call it the Gray Ghost, because: 1) it's gray, and 2) it doesn't seem to be of this world. It's actually a great vehicle and will take me about my rounds tomorrow as I deliver the US mail throughout South Dennis (knock on wood).

We don't have a nickname for the 2000 Voyager, although we should probably call it the Prairie Schooner as it has taken us back and forth to the cornfields of Indiana many times during the past four years. Over this past year it has somehow become my daughter's car - mainly because it's the largest vehicle we own and I want her encircled by the most metal we can possibly muster.

Which brings me to the '97 Saturn Wagon;  I sometimes refer to it as Gemini 7, because: 1) it's aerodynamically shaped like a space ship, 2) it has good pick up a/k/a "escape velocity," and 3) on dump day, with bags of trash fermenting inside, it smells as if two unwashed Gemini astronauts have been living in it for a week.

Well, this past Friday night I was driving the Saturn when I noticed the car was pulling to the right in a rather pronounced fashion. Over the next couple of days the pull became worse (I gave it a couple of days, figuring the problem would just go away by itself, which of course, never happens ... if anything, problems tend to go from bad to worse, not vice versa) so I brought the car down to the local tire place. They fixed me up with new front tires and an alignment, and now it's running straight as an arrow as it heads off toward the 100,000-mile mark.

I must admit, I enjoy getting new tires. It's the one thing about car service that makes perfect sense to me. Instead of some obscure, expensive part hidden somewhere under the hood, tires are right out there on the outside of the car for all to see. They're relatively inexpensive as far as auto parts go (I got two of them, and the alignment, for under $150). Their function is simple to understand -- they exist to keep the car's metal frame from scraping along the pavement as you drive down the street. They have no moving parts, or rather, the tire itself is one large "moving part," which simply goes round and round, so it's easy to understand how it actually works. And they're black, which is my second favorite color (right after charcoal gray).

Actually, I'm thinking that tires would make nice Christmas presents. Perhaps that's what I'll give to my family and friends this year - a nice, round, radial tire for each.

The only problem will be wrapping them.

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