Me and FUF (2007)

The View From Argyle Heights
by Homeowner Harry (Another in a series of observations about life in West Midwood as it is lived today…or maybe not)

Before going on vacation in August, I decided to get my car checked out for the 300 mile trip to Cape Cod. The inspiration for this was my next door neighbor Arthur Rhine, who rushed out of his house in pajamas one morning shouting “Where’s the explosion!?!” Then he saw me behind the wheel of my 1995 Mercury Sable and relaxed: “Thank God, it’s just your old jalopy.” At that exact moment, perhaps startled by the commotion, the engine died and I found myself at a dead stop in the middle of Argyle Road. I put the car in neutral, and ever so slowly, much to my amazement, it started inching forward, rolling down Argyle Road. So I guess it’s true, we are on a hill here. As I neared the corner of Glenwood, I turned the ignition and…it started up and off we went again, me and good ol’ FUF.

My car has a lot of names. To my neighbors who haven’t yet lost their hearing, it’s “That Wreck”. To tow truck operators covering Park Slope, it’s called “Come to Papa!” But to me and my family, it’s always been “FUF” – those are the first three letters of the license plate – and we have grown fond of FUF over the years. We couldn’t afford to put him out to pasture just yet, especially with all those law suits by the contractors we fired during our home renovations about to go to trial. But I needed a new repair shop because my old mechanic recently retired to Boca Raton based partially on the money he made fixing FUF – or as he called it, “KA-CHING!”.

So many repair shops to choose from and so little time before vacation was upon us, what was I to do? Well, I did what most men do these days when they face a major decision: first I watched TV to relax, then I fell asleep. But over the next few days, refreshed and energized, I canvassed family, friends and neighbors for recommendations and one pattern began to emerge: nobody I knew had a car as old as mine. Depressed, I began idly surfing the Internet and as I checked my email, I noticed a lot of messages from the Flatbush Development Corp’s discussion group, “FDConline” (to join, just send a blank email to

The discussion of the day centered around the latest intelligence from credible sources overlooking Courtelyou Road: was that somebody moving something into an empty store rumored to become Connecticut Muffin? And what about those workmen who just entered the Cornerstone? Hmmmm…Maybe I could ask for help from these folks - they seemed to have their fingers on the pulse of the neighborhood after all. Well, so much thinking hurt my head so I headed back to the TV and blessed sleep. When my wife and son shook me awake to ask about the car repair, I realized the time had come for action. So, sitting down at my keyboard, I tried to imagine a message that would elicit immediate enthusiastic responses, explaining how attached I was to FUF and the noises it made and such but in the end, I went with the minimalist approach: “Anybody Know A Good Auto Mechanic?”

I received 10 replies, some of which sadly I can not print in a family newsletter. But there were only two establishments that garnered multiple recommendations, so I decided to try both of them: Superior Care at 3rd Ave and 19th Street in Park Slope, 718-768-0622; and Sal’s at 1834 Utica Avenue between Avenues J and K, 718-377-5728. Would you believe it? Neither of them recommended doing anything about the noise FUF made – both attributed the racket to the catalytic converter, which was fairly new, and assessed that one of the internal filters had come loose. They felt the noise might just go away on its own (which it did, as soon as I got to Cape Cod) and aside from a oil change I asked for at one joint and a new water pump at the other (both very reasonably priced), neither tried to sell me a repair I didn’t need. Amazing. I recommend both of these places – call to make an appointment first because being honest is popular these days.

As I write this, the holiday season is upon us and FUF is still going strong, although she does get a little noisy from time to time. When that happens, I just put FUF in neutral and roll down Argyle Heights, hoping that this small gesture on my part will in its own meager way, help to slow global warming.

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