Saturday, January 3, 2009

Indulge me, would you?

My name is Jim, and I am an addict. I don't know for sure what first got me hooked. But 've got an addiction. It's serious, and has cost me thousands of dollars over the last six years. Some of this spending has been to meet daily needs. A guy has to eat and have a place to live.

But I've got it bad. I don't jones for many things, but I've got a problem with one thing in my life that I just can't get enough of.

MINIs: those cute little English cars now made by BMW. I've owned three. I want another. I'm a serially monogamous MINI-whore. Tell me about an event involving MINIs, and I'm there. I travel to MINI events all over California and the West Coast, and last spring, to the East Coast. I've been to Las Vegas, Angeles Crest, Santa Barbara, the Bay Area, Monterey, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, Arizona and on every road with more than one curve in San Diego County. All on MINI related trips. I've lost track of the number of times I've driven up and over Mt. Palomar, through Mesa Grande and down to Borrego Springs.

My idea of a good time involves 3 or more MINIs, a long series of curvy roads and a full gas tank. I travel to MINI events 2 or 3 times a year, and have added international events to my gallivanting around. I've been to Ireland & England for MINI events, and will be heading to another over there this spring. For me, the ideal tourist destination is the nearest MINI dealership. I've been to at least 12 MINI dealerships in 4 states and two countries, including the dealership up the road from the Houston hospital where my husband had bypass surgery. (I had permission, honest. Five days after surgery, Steve got sick of staring at four walls, and wanted to go out for dinner. The dealership was right up the street from the restaurant. I only spent 20 minutes there.) I put 1200 miles on my latest MINI in the first 3 days of ownership, while hanging out with 500 or so other like minded fanatics. I've left home on an 80 degree day, only to get lost in a snowstorm--on the same day I single-handedly caused the biggest traffic jam in the history of Idyllwild, CA.

I break MINIs, usually through no fault of my own. My first MINI went through 3 windshields & a driver's side door, it was also a shopping cart magnet, no matter how far away from the store I parked. My second MINI went through 3 more windshields, was rear ended twice--the first time when it was 3 days old--and hit in the side (which was the only time I caused damage, less than a week after I got it back from the second rear-ending). My third MINI is on it's 2nd windshield, and has been dented by a Sunday paper and a Chevy Suburban in separate incidents, and needed a new rear bumper cover 2 weeks after I got it home. I've gone through five sets of rims (six if you count the replacements I've had done on the current car), and 6 sets of tires.

Don't ask me to work on a MINI, though. I can tighten a bolt, change a tire and have assisted in multiple oil changes. I can wash, wax and detail with best. Anything more complicated, I leave to the experts. Electrical tape sticks to my fingers, not to the wiring harness. Cars fall off jacks when I try to help install accessories. Somehow, even with my destructive tendencies, I've made more good friends in the MINI community than I can count. Some of them came to my wedding. They've been there through good times and bad, for which I'm eternally grateful. My sister even loaned me her MINI as the limo for my wedding.

This post was originally meant to be 50 words long, and feature a couple of pictures of the cars, and a couple of snarky comments. Instead, it's turned into something self indulgent. I'd better stop & just post the pictures.

This is Ollie, for Oliver Hardy. I was tall and (thought I was still) skinny, he was English & got me into one fine mess after another.

This was taken after I thought I'd finished customizing Ollie, there were more changes to come.

When you're gay, and living in a very conservative area--never, ever send your mother an e-mail of this pic. Especially if all you tell her is "I painted the car." (It's a photoshop job)

Yes, it snows in Southern California. I found out the hard way. In May. After the traffic jam.

This one's Ollie Jr., leading a group of about 40 MINIs on a run out to 4 or 5 of San Diego County's finest Indian Casinos back in 2006.

Ollie Jr. got a new pair of shoes.

The day Ollie Jr. came home.

This one was taken a four days after I picked up Stanley (on the right), that's Ollie Jr. with his last set of new shoes.

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