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Attack of the Horny Goblins

By Dave Fox
Seattle, Washington 

My neighbor called me the other morning to inform me my car alarm was going off.

“My car doesn’t have an alarm,” I told her.

“Oh,” she said. “Maybe it’s somebody else’s car.”

Five minutes later, another neighbor called.

“Dave, your car alarm is going off.”

So I wandered downstairs, hoping my aging little Mazda 323 had just been a long, bad dream, and I actually owned an alarm-worthy vehicle like a Porsche or a Jaguar. But my hatchback was sitting there, dents and all. And the horn was honking.

It wasn’t an alarm-style honk though. It was one steady honk — the sound a car makes when you fall asleep on your steering wheel. I unlocked the door and tapped the horn. The honking stopped.

That evening, I was halfway through dinner at a local tavern when the bartender interrupted everyone’s conversation.

“Does anybody here have a blue car parked on the street outside?” she yelled.

I ignored her. My car is black.

“A dark blue car, or maybe a black car? Because your alarm is going off.”

An awkward hush fell over the room. “Car alarms!” I heard someone hiss. “People with car alarms should be shipped off to remote penal colonies where the only other people to talk to are telemarketers.”

And this person was right. Car alarms don’t protect our cars. They go off at random, inopportune times. When we hear one, we don’t think, “Oh, a car alarm. I should call the police.” We think, “Oh, a car alarm. I should get my sledgehammer and turn it off.”

Humiliated, I slithered out to the road, opened the door, and tapped the horn.

It kept honking.

I whacked it harder.

The honking stopped.

My car is a good car. It’s 12 years old, which means if it were a dog, it would be in the early stages of senility. I’ve owned it for five or six years. It’s never given me any trouble, but now, my car was embarrassing me.

“Will you please behave!” I hissed at the dashboard, and went back inside to finish my dinner.

That night, I awoke in a cold sweat. My parking space is in a garage below my condo. My horn could have been honking for hours and I’d never hear it. At 4:50 a.m., I pulled on some jeans and went downstairs to check.

The garage was peaceful. I posted a sign for my neighbors and went back to sleep.

I called my mechanic the next morning. “I’m booked through the weekend,” he said. “I can look at it Monday.”

“Monday?” I said. “But that’s days away! What am I supposed to do in the meantime?”

“Just remove the horn fuse. You might lose something else, like your dome light, but the honking will stop.”

So I, Dave Fox, freelance writer, non-auto-mechanic, set off confidently for the garage, declaring, “What the hell is a horn fuse?”

I found the fuse box, and all of the fuses were clearly labeled. The radio fuse was labled “radio.” The tail light fuse was labled “tail light.” The wiper fuse was labled “wiper.” There was, however, no fuse that said “horn.”

So I consulted page 2-30 of the car’s owner manual, which contained this extremely useful information:

“To sound the horn, press the center of the steering wheel.”

This, I thought, would be good advice for anyone who happened to be reading the manual whilst barreling down the highway at 72 miles per hour, about to have a head-on collision with a semi. Unfortunately, that was not my predicament. I needed to make the horn shut up, and the manual said nothing about a horn fuse.

I couldn’t call my mechanic back. If he knew I couldn’t find the horn fuse, he would charge me a 300 percent Horn Fuse Removal Tax, which Seattle citizens had supposedly passed in a referendum on that day I forgot to vote. I wasn’t going to play those games. Instead, I was going to rip out every fuse in the vehicle until my horn was de-honked. Tail lights? I didn’t need no stinkin’ tail lights. My mechanic had told me the horn might be attached to some other fuse, and I was going to find it.

So feeling manly and mechanical, I started yanking fuses, one by one. I pulled out the dome light fuse and tried honking the horn.

It honked.

I tried the radio fuse.

The horn still honked.

I pulled out the power window fuse, wondering why my car has a power window fuse when it doesn’t have power windows.

The horn still honked.

Finally, I tried removing a fuse labeled “Stop.” As in, “Stop honking, you stupid horn!”

I pressed the steering wheel.

It didn’t honk.

All weekend long, when I had to drive somewhere, I would reinstall the “stop” fuse in case I needed to honk. When I parked, I would take it out. This entailed lying down in the street so I could reach under the steering wheel, and hoping that any oncoming drivers would notice my legs before they ran over them. I survived the weekend.

On Monday, I took the car to my mechanic. He took apart the steering wheel, pulled out a flat piece of metal, and disappeared inside his shop.

“It won’t do it anymore,” he said when he returned. He reassembled the steering wheel.

The horn started honking.

He took the steering wheel apart again.

“Maybe I need a new horn,” I suggested.

“You don’t want to do that,” he said. “It would cost at least 75 dollars.”

It seemed like a small price to pay to avoid living the rest of my life on an island full of telemarketers, but my mechanic really wanted to save me money. He went inside again, came out 20 minutes later, reinstalled the horn, and honked it to test its sensitivity.

It didn’t honk.

He pressed harder.

It still didn’t honk.

He pressed really really hard.

It honked.

“There,” he said. “You’ll just have to hit it kind of hard now.”

So now my horn works again, sort of. It doesn’t honk when I don’t want it to. Sometimes it doesn’t honk when I do want it to. I have to push it really hard, which is nice because I get a good workout every time somebody cuts me off.

Now if I could just figure out how to remove the telemarketer fuse from my telephone….


This is just one of the tales from Dave’s ebook,
Kinky Chipmunks and Horny Goblins.

Download it today for your Kindle device!

 

Published on Thursday, October 30, 2003

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