Seven Ways To Improve The Modern Automobile

Time for your Tuesday edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Find more of Drew's stuff at KSK or on Twitter. Today, we're covering survival floats, AIDS bandits, road signs, pillow talk, t-shirt tags, and more.

There was a violent thunderstorm here on Sunday. It knocked out our power for two days. I was with my kid at some local pool when the clouds started to gather. Suddenly, the thunder rolled and the lifeguard ordered everyone out of the pool. The wind started whipping up like fucking crazy, blowing trees sideways and shit. Everyone was booking for their cars to avoid the oncoming downpour, and I grabbed my kid to do the same. And the wind just got faster and shit started to fall down around us and I grabbed my kid's hand and sprinted with her to the car. And I swear, it was fucking AWESOME. I totally felt like we were fleeing from an alien attack. I looked up to the swirling clouds in the sky and tried willing a mile-long saucer ship to suddenly appear, but it never did. BUT IT TOTALLY COULD HAVE.

Anyway, we made it to the car just as the rain started to pound down. And that's a great feeling. Nothing boosts your confidence like beating out a rainstorm. SUCK IT, MOTHER NATURE. You telegraphed that shit, and I took advantage. I saved my helpless child from wetness. YOU'LL NEVER CATCH ME, YOU CUNT.

The ride home, branches were falling all over the place and I saw lightning hit a power line and make this giant spark. Again, this was totally sweet. I'm moving to Tornado Alley just for the drama. THE SKY WAS ANGRY THAT DAY, MY FRIEND. Storms are cool as shit. Anyway, your letters:

Brent:

Why are there gaps in between the center console and front seats in my automobile? We have been mass-producing cars for over a century now and for some reason this has not been fixed. I have dropped credit cards, glasses, money, important receipts, etc. down into that nether region of my car and then been forced to get out and try to jam my arm under my seat to reclaim the lost object(s).

I have had to do this in a drive-thru line MULTIPLE TIMES with people honking at me and realizing how clumsy I am that I dropped my debit card into the black hole of my automobile. Please tell me I am not alone and that there is a solution that doesn't involve me putting my head in an oven.

I know. It's almost as if that slot has magnets strategically placed at the bottom, just so anything that falls from your hands ends up drawn to the chasm, like a tractor beam. And my meaty hand is always too big to jam down the crack to retrieve whatever I've lost down there, be it change or keys or a first edition printing of "The Sun Also Rises," which means I have to lean forward and reach under the seat (destroys your back), only whatever I've dropped is juuuuust out of reach. Forever. There should never be an unreachable space in a modern automobile. Ever.

That's just one of many tragic universal design flaws for most cars. Here are seven features that should be standard in all automobiles:

A DIMMER SWITCH FOR SIDE MIRRORS. Some fancy cars have this shit, but no car I've ever driven has. You can flip your rearview mirror to dim the headlights behind you. But that still means the fucking Hummer on your ass will have its halogens turned on full blast, and that shit bounces right off the side mirror and into your retina. God, that's horrible. How does the fucker behind you know precisely how close to follow so that he gets maximum glare in the side mirror? People are fucking scum.

WIPER FLUID SHOOTERS FOR SIDE WINDOWS. Because the old "roll down the window to get the ice crust off" trick never works for me. Also, I like to waste as much wiper fluid as humanly possible.

SELF-CLEANING STEERING WHEELS. My steering wheel has the adhesive power of rubber cement at this point, thanks to my grubby hands hanging onto it for hours at time every week. It's fucking repulsive. Oh sure, I could easily wipe away all the dirt and grime with a Wet One or a wet paper towel. But that takes effort, and I do not like effort.

POWER SOUNDPROOF PARTITION BEHIND FRONT ROW. Limos have this ("I mean, when you've loved and lost the way Frank has..."). Every car should have this. If my kids are bitching in the back, up goes the partition. No more whining. What are they doing back there? Are they killing each other? Who cares? All I know is that it's fucking quiet again.

LOUDSPEAKER SYSTEM. I've said this before, but it bears repeating: Every car needs a loudspeaker system, so that I can communicate clearly with other drivers on the road. If I've pulled to the right to let a tailgater go by, and he doesn't go by, I'd like to get on the loudspeaker to let that guy know he's a fucking cocksucker. Also, how else will people know I'm playing the Palace Hotel Ballroom that evening? OR what if I want to street race with John Cusack while doing a Howard Cosell impression? A loudspeaker is needed. Honking is all we have to speak with other drivers, and it's woefully inadequate. I need a broader palette.

PERISCOPES.

MOUNTED MACHINE GUN. So my kids have something to do.

Steve:

I cannot tolerate approaching an exit to get your eat on...and those blue signs advertise for the food establishments at the next exit. You get off at the appropriate exit...and the blue sign gives you the direction, AND distance. The worst feeling in the world is when that distance is like 1.8 miles. BULLSHIT. That's NOT at the exit anymore. What's the limit on this? I say 0.5 miles. Otherwise take that shit off the sign.

Under one mile. Anything over one mile isn't at the exit. It may as well be located in fucking Omaha. People who make these signs fail to realize how crucial it is to every driver on the road that we make good time. That means choosing a gas/food stop that is as close to the exit as possible to maximize efficiency. If I could go through a drive thru at 75 mph to make good time, I would. If I could refuel my gas tank directly from an oil tanker in the lefthand lane, just like a fighter jet refueling mid-flight, I would. I don't want to be at that rest stop one goddamn second longer than I have to. Especially if I've just been cutoff by some other dickhead on the road. I hate the idea of pulling off the road and letting that fuck WIN. I want to stay on the road and BEAT HIS ASS, even if I have no clue where his intended destination is. I hate the idea of falling behind.

This is why New Jersey is so awful for road trips. All Jersey rest stops are full serve. The gas is cheaper, but that still means every Jersey rest stop has a gas line ninety miles long. I avoid gassing up in Jersey like AIDS. Once I find a good stopping exit, I note it in my head and use it every time I make the same trip (Stafford VA roolz!).

The problem with those blue signs is that they always pop up well after you've decided to bite the bullet and hit the exit ramp. Those signs need to be up and visible a mile before the turnoff, so that I can make sure I don't get off if the Arby's is five goddamn miles away. Nothing makes me angrier than getting off and seeing I've been duped. I could kill a man in that moment. I really could. The only reason I don't pull over to murder a drifter in that instant is because it would mean making bad time.

I also greatly dislike turning off an exit and finding out I'm not on a regular road with stoplights and shit, but rather a whole new state highway, with its own system of exit ramps that I will have to inevitably use to turn around and get back where I'm going. That's always a horrifying discovery. GAH! IT'S ANOTHER HIGHWAY! ABORT! ABORT! You just never know until you get off if Rte. 164 is a local strip mall road, or if it's some sinister plot to draw you deeper into New Hampshire. Then you'll find yourself broken down in some cleverly designed tourist trap area with no functioning gas station, and you'll be forced to marry the mayor's daughter if you want to leave, only it turns out she has a penis with moles on it. Just like Nothing But Trouble, only REAL!

(Oh, and you fancy people with iPhones and GPS systems that tell you exactly where the gas station is can go die. OH LOOGIT ME! I'M SO COOL AND CAN AFFORD A DATA PLAN! I hate you.)

I was in North Carolina a month ago, and when I was driving down I stopped at a 7/11 to get gas. This was at about 1AM in the morning. The place was fucking PACKED. And not as a gassing up spot. There were shitloads of cars parked outside, and people sitting on their hoods drinking beer from the case. And these weren't kids. Everyone there was, like, 40. 7/11 was their party spot for the night. Not much happens in North Carolina.

/preppy snob

Scott:

What is your take on Pillow Talk? I know its semi-gay, but it usually leads to this thing women call trust, which in turn, leads to lovin'. Suggestions?

I think every guy on Earth has engaged in the whole pillow talk thing in their lives, with the schnookums and the schmoopies and all that shit. I know I do it with the wife. And the reason I do it is, deep down, because I like it. Would I be caught dead doing all that baby talk with friends around? No. But in the privacy of the bedroom, with no one else listening (as far as I know), I have no real qualms about getting all lovey dovey and sounding like a fucking idiot. I LOVE YOU TOO, BOOBOOKINS!

I think more guys enjoy this than they let on. I'm probably saying that just to comfort myself, but whatever. It's nice to let down the whole macho façade and act like someone who, under normal circumstances, would make you feel violently ill. It's comforting, in a way. It feels good to have someone to do that sort of thing with. It's freeing. It makes you feel safe and secure and cozy with your lady. Even guys need pampering from time to time. Also, I'm a big baby about everything, so I find it wholly satisfying to act like an ACTUAL baby for two minutes every evening. WAH WAH BABY NEEDS HIS BUNKY!!!

I never do baby talk on the phone, though. I used to do that shit while driving, or something like that. But one time I left a message for my wife on the home machine entirely in disgusting Romance Latin and my father-in-law heard it. You never live that sort of thing down.

Also, at the end of any phone call with my wife, I always say, "I love you." Not an unusual habit between married people, except one time I was operating on autopilot and leaving a message for my wife with one of her friends, and I ended the call by saying "I love you" to HER. Then I hung up and suddenly thought, "Wait a second, did I just tell Holly I loved her?" Then I had to call back and explain that I, in fact, did NOT love Holly, even though I thought she was a really solid gal. Then I had to explain to my wife as well that I loved her and not her friend, and that I wasn't planning on shacking up with the friend and having my wife killed for the insurance money. I'm pretty sure she believed me.

/checks ankle monitor

HALFTIME!

Patrick:

My friends and I were talking about what we would do with the Stanley Cup, and we all admitted that the first thing that came to our heads was to skeet into it. Do you suppose this has been done before?

Oh yeah. If you're drinking from the Stanley Cup, you're drinking the blood, piss, and skeet from decades of NHL superstars, and the puck bunnies they've nailed because they got to hoist the thing. That cup is like a repository of biohazard. Hockey players are fucking stupid, so you know damn well their skeet is chock full of bad germs. Those guys would fuck a tree full of ant larvae if they were in the mood.

The Diggler:

I love ginger ale. It's fantastic. It tastes like no other pop (or soda) around.

When I was a kid, my mom always gave me ginger ale when I was sick and staying home from school. And so now, any time I have ginger ale while perfectly healthy, I feel like I OUGHT to be sick, and then I start to feel sick. It's a bizarre reaction, because I otherwise find ginger ale delightful. But one sip, and I'm instantly eight years old and retching over the side of my bed into a metal bowl my mom put there specifically for vomiting. It's not always a pleasant flashback. WHO GIVES SUGARY SODA TO AN UNWELL CHILD?!

I welcome ginger in pretty any food I eat. Pickled ginger with sushi? Oh yes. Ginger snaps? YOU BET! Ginger stir fry? Fuck and yes. It's an incredibly versatile root.

Nate:

Whenever I see a person playing a corpse on TV, Law and Order or whatever, I find myself fixated on watching the actor, trying to catch them moving and calling them on it. I usually tell the other people in the room I could do it better. I try to practice in bed as I try to fall asleep or float like a dead corpse in the water. Have you ever tried the same?

All the time at the pool. Nothing beats floating like a cadaver in a pool. I do it every time I'm in the water. It never gets old. And if I'm in the ocean, it's even better, because I can play dead and pretend I'm a corpse floating in the water after the Pearl Harbor attack. Playing dead is crazy awesome, and don't let anyone ever tell you different.

When I went to summer camp, they had swimming lessons, and you got a gold star if you could do the survival float and survival swim for X number of minutes. The survival float was a technique designed with the premise that, if you're stuck in water somewhere, you want to conserve your energy as much as possible by staying afloat but not actively swimming. So you float face down in the water and come up for breaths every thirty seconds or so (the survival swim included the occasional arm stroke forward). This always struck me as a dumb technique because YOU LOOK LIKE YOU'RE FUCKING DEAD, so what helicopter is gonna come rescue you if it looks like you're dead as shit?

Anyway, I always did this thing for minutes at a time to get that star, and the end result of doing it for that long is that you really do begin to feel like you're dead after a while. The water is in your ears and it's all quiet and eerie and dark. It gets a little too real. And this was in four feet of water off some stupid lake in Wisconsin, mind you. If I'm ever stuck in the middle of an actual ocean, I think I might thrash around once in a while just for the sake of not freaking myself out.

When I sleep at night, I sleep with my arms folded on my chest, so I look like a corpse at a wake. Sometimes, I hold my breath and try and remain completely still. Then my nose itches and I've totally given myself away. I'd be horrid at faking my own death.

Dan:

Have you ever had a tag on a t-shirt that won't stop sticking up and irritating the shit out of the back of your neck? Have you then flown into a rage and hacked the tag off with a knife? Immensely satisfying. Feels like you're sawing the legs off the man who murdered your daughter in the non-existent thriller in your mind.

Haven't most t-shirt manufacturers done away with tags in this day and age? I remember one year, someone got me a shirt from the Gap (because I'm a white person), and I looked at the back and there was no tag, just the tag info screened on the back. And I remember thinking, "Fucking FINALLY." They had finally gotten rid of the goddamn tag. It felt like a new dawn. Any shirt I encounter now with a tag feels woefully behind the times. I think less of that shirt.

And yes, in my mind there is ALWAYS a nonexistent thriller in which some fucker has tried to kill/successfully killed my children. My vengeance is swift and brutal. I'm not saying I DAYDREAM about my kids dying. It's just that having kids means always having fodder for an imaginary scenario in which they die and someone must fucking PAY. I do this constantly. Being a parent is weird.

Jacob:

Is there a wild animal that weighs over 50 lbs that a single human could fight barehanded and win? It doesn't have to be just anyone, it could be Brock Lesnar. I can't think of a single animal. One of my friends thinks he could take a deer. I think that's retarded. Another is confident in a wolf. I'm ashamed to even type that it's so dumb.

How would you take a deer in a fight? The thing would just run away. Is it a deer that's been injected with some kind of agent that makes it rabid and unnatural aggressive? Like a zombie deer? Because I think a zombie deer would fucking ruin me. Especially if it had antlers. Antlers makes a big difference. No way I beat any animal that has antlers.

Anyway, I think your best bet to defeat an animal over 50 lbs. would have to be some kind of gentle dog breed. Like an Irish Wolfhound. They're really big, but very gentle in nature. Wikipedia says:

JA McAleen, in praising them, wrote: "No other dog can come so close to the understanding and kindly companionship that exists between humans as this dog can. A giant in structure, a lamb in disposition, a lion in courage; affectionate and intelligent, thoroughly reliable and dependable at all times, as a companion and as a guard he is perfection."

That sounds like an animal I could definitely choke to death. Think about it. If you got your arms around its neck and had it wrestled to the ground, it's not gonna be able to fight off that choke hold. God damn, I really want to strangle a dog right now. I COULD TOTALLY DO IT!

/would definitely be killed by an Irish Wolfhound

Russ:

I use a Gillette Fusion razor (5 BLADES WOOO!!). Yesterday I go to shower at the gym and I find a barely used disposable Fusion head on the ledge. Now, I am a disgusting human being so instantly I'm like "SCORE! Free razor!" I take it home and use it, not a problem for me. But there was this little voice in the back of my head telling me that this is very, very unsanitary. Now, I'm not gonna ask if you would have done the same, I don't really expect anyone to, but let's put it this way: If you found 4 dollars (the approximate retail value of one Fusion razor head) on the ground and somehow you knew that if you take the money there will be a .000001% chance that it will give you AIDS, would you take it?

Probably. Razorblades are, as we've said before, ridiculously expensive. Then again, what if someone with AIDS specifically planted that razorblade at the gym so that you'd find it? What if your town had a serial AIDS bandit going around? That would horrify me. I think I'd fear an AIDS bandit more than an actual serial killer. I remember someone telling me the bullshit story of a woman flying back from Jamaica after having an affair with Dexter St. Jacques or whoever and opening up that gift box on the plane with the little wooden coffin in it that said WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF THE LIVING DEAD. I HAVE AIDS, BITCH. That's an urban legend, of course, and I knew it at the time. And yet, the idea of it still haunted me. If my town had a guy running around nicking everyone with AIDS razors and purposely bleeding into fruit salads, I'd have a nervous breakdown.

But yeah, I'd totally use that cartridge. Money's money. Speaking of AIDS bandits:

MSDYM:

I'm afraid that an insane homeless person will stab me with an AIDS-infected needle. I have no idea where this fear comes from, other than the fact that I hate needles, and I hate AIDS.

My secret fear came to light when my wife and I were visiting NYC. We were minding our own business, eating some semi-delicious hot dogs we bought from a street vendor, when this insane looking homeless woman started harassing us. After she ignored our respectful requests to get the fuck away, my wife got a little sassy with her. That's when I felt my heart rate skyrocket and the adrenaline start flowing. The argument between my wife and the homeless lady got really heated. All I could think was, "What if this lady gets sick of my wife's smartass comments and starts stabbing us with an AIDS-infected needle?!? YOU'RE JUST MAKING HER MORE ANGRY! SHE'S GONNA REACH FOR THE SYRINGE ANY MINUTE NOW!" I know the chance of that lady having a syringe of any sort, let alone one with a live and deadly virus, was very slim. BUT WHAT IF?

Am I nuts?

This is why I fear prison. I assume every prisoner in every prison has a stash of sixty HIV-infected needles that they use at any time to dispatch of those who displease them. I assume HIV needles are traded round like cigarettes, as currency. And I assume they always make sure to stab you with this needle IN THE BUTT, just for added effect.

So no, you're not nuts to fear being stabbed with a handful of AIDS, good sir. That just means you're keeping on your toes, the way a fellow ought to in this day and age. I think a lot of homeless people make a strategic error when they hold up a sign that says HOMELESS AND HIV POSITIVE. This is designed to make me more sympathetic, when in fact it makes me more likely to run from you, because you may have a fresh stock of AIDS needles ready on your person at all times. You're much more likely to get paying customers if you have a sign that says HOMELESS AND DISEASE FREE. ALSO, I HAVE GINGER ALE.

Time for a GREAT MOMENT IN MILITARY BADASSERY.

Matt:

My Grandmom starting dating this dude Chuck a few years after my Grandfather died, and Chuck was an awesome guy who took good care of my grandmother and really became a part of the family. Anyhow, he was also a WWII paratrooper in the pacific, who before he died started to talk about the war. The most badass story:

Chuck has gone through about a half dozen cancer surgeries, and has had a bunch of different doctors. So he's being examined, and the doctor notices a huge scar running from his belt buckle to his sternum, and asks what it is from. Chuck just says he doesn't want to talk about it. The doctor keeps on asking him, telling him that he needs to know in order to treat him. Anyhow this continues for a bit until Chuck finally says that during the war he was bayoneted in the stomach by a Japanese soldier, and his guts came out, and he sort of just pushed them back in. At this point the Doctor's mouth is hanging open and asks what happened to the Japanese soldier. Without missing a beat, Chuck smiles and replies, "Oh, I cut his fucking head off".

Chuck was badass.

Yes he was.