“For truth is always strange; stranger than fiction.”

I made a quick stop at the store just to pick up some greens, so of course I stumbled back through the parking lot half an hour later with my arms full of spinach, arugula, heirloom tomatoes, a miniature Tide-To-Go pen, and organic chocolate frosted pop-tarts (wait, I bought what??) to find a flier cleverly inserted under the edge of my car door. I shifted my grocery bag to the other arm, dropped my purse on the hot, chewing-gummy asphalt, said something that wasn’t “Phooey!” and yanked at the slip of paper. NEED A NEW CAR? said the headline.

I stood there, clutching it, and looked around. Mine was the only car with a flier. No fliers to the left of me. No fliers to the right of me. But was there a woman dismay’d?

Uh, yeah!

Clearly, I’d been targeted. Or rather, George Gordon Lord Byron the Grey had been. This was no less than a hate crime against well-loved cars. Clearly, someone had gone through that parking lot, scoping out cars, and picked out G. G. L. B. the G. as a likely candidate for imminent scrapping.

George Gordon (L. B. the G.) is a 2003 Honda Accord, previously owned by a family friend named Byron. After driving Byron’s family all the way from Alaska to D.C., G. G. found himself in need of a new home. My sister and I were both in high school, and we were in need of a (not-new) car. Voila.

Byron, being also the name of a monolithic poet of yore, was of course the only possible name for our new ride. After a bit of old-fashioned-style research (opening the Norton Anthology—the hardback kind!—to the table of contents and ogling, not googling, the entry for “Byron”) I discovered that Byron’s full name was George Gordon Lord Byron. Quite pleased with the rhythm of this epithet, I suggested tacking on “the Grey” as a coda. My sister disagreed, but what did that matter? I’m older.

G. G. L. B. the G. has served us well over a number of years now, even if he’s had a few scrapes and bruises along the way. It’s possible that George Gordon may have recently gotten jiggy with tree stump. Or that he once got too cozy with a friendly-looking snowdrift who turned out to be a solid chunk of ice:

(I told him to stick to his own kind, but he’s a very open-minded kinda guy…)

He also happens to be the same make, and even sports the same bumper sticker, as two of my best friends’ cars. He has very friendly headlights. (This is a tangent, but–when my sister was little, she had a system for classifying headlights, by their shape, into three categories: Friendly, Mommy, and Spiteful headlights. Spiteful: the narrow kind that glare at you as they speed past. Friendly: round-edged, with a pleasant glow. Mommy headlights, and this is verbatim here: “not spiteful but not quite friendly either.” …We had a very happy childhood! I swear!)

Anyway, battle scars are no reason to pick on a veteran. It was a hot day, my purse was gummy, and G. G.’s bumper was drooping like it might actually be about to bite the dust. I called the number on the flier.

“Hello, um, do you single out cars that look, you know, beat up?”
“Do you need a new car?”
“No. I’m wondering if you focus on fliering cars that look, you know–”
“I focus on all cars.”
“So you’re telling me that every car in this parking lot got a flier? Cuz it looks like only mine got a flier. ”
“Do you need a new car?”
“NO! I’m just wondering why you picked MINE to PICK ON!”
“Ma’am, do you need a new car or not?”

I hung up the phone.

As a different Byron (the one who could talk and write, even if he couldn’t go 80 mph or subsist on twelve-gallon meals of dead dinosaurs) once said, “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” (Although, he followed that with this: “As to that regular, uninterrupted love of writing, I do not understand it. I feel it as a torture, which I must get rid of, but never as a pleasure. On the contrary, I think composition a great pain.”)

So, thanks for bearing with me while I stave off the madness, folks. And torture myself for your reading pleasure.

Byron also said this:

Society is now one polish’d horde,
Form’d of two mighty tribes, the Bores and Bored.

Dear friends and readers, may I close with the gentle protest that I never intend to be the former, nor render you the latter. If, however, you consider yourself in either of those categories after reading this, I refuse to take responsibility.

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