Hiya bookies! Tomorrow became Day-After-Tomorrow, I know. Lots of running round yesterday, meeting with teachers, renewing library books (I didn’t tell you that story, either. Jeez, so much excitement I can’t keep track of it all), trying to set up this nifty new computer (see, yet another great story untold!), and on and on. But let’s focus on the Focus.

As we last left our intrepid hero, me, my car was totaled and dead, smelling moldy after a week in the hot summer sun as dirty rainwater dried out inside. My mechanic kept telling me it was hopeless, that you would never know when some rusted out circuit would fail and I finally, reluctantly, had to believe him. It was like saying goodbye to an old friend. Not only that, I was down to our family’s emergency car. The insurance company paid, and then I discovered that the payment wouldn’t come close to buying me a comparable car. Figures, right?

In 1990 we bought a new (well, a low-mileage demo car) Volvo 740, which every member of the household has driven at one time or another as their primary car. Both my kids learned to drive in that car. It’s pretty beat up now, the seats are split out, the dashboard and door panels cracked, the trunk jammed shut…we have often been encouraged to get rid of it. The question is: why? It’s the perfect emergency car, and after 20 years it qualifies as an antique. So that was my choice, drive the Volvo. Except the A/C didn’t work. Fortunately, two shots of freon and the air was so cold I used it to hang meat.

No, not really, but I probably could have. Nice and frosty, the way I like it when the heat index in Memphis tops 120, which it did for like three weeks straight this year. That old Volvo remains one of the most stable cars ever built and if they really wanted to sell a lot of new ones, they would take that old car, duplicate it as much as possible and call it something brand new. Which, given its quality, it probably would be.

Anyway, I had wheels, but the Volvo doesn’t have a CD player, just cassette. I don’t listen to radio when driving, I listen to audiobooks, but mine are all on CD now and I was really depressed. Indeed, on that fateful day when my Focus was drowned I had begun listening to the Teaching Company production of History of Ancient Rome, a series of 48 college lectures by Professor Garrett Fagan. (By the way, if you aren’t familiar with The Teaching Company, you may want to check them out. They have lecture courses on every conceivable subject. And if Ann in Nashville is still reading this blog, I am reliably informed that your library system carries many, if not most, of them).

Not having a CD player, however, I listened to ESPN sports radio and realized just how utterly dreadful those hosts really are. I’m a sports guy, too, but come on! I’m glad most of the people on ESPN radio work there, because I can’t imagine what else they could do for a living. And for one brief afternoon I listened to local sports-talk radio. Amazingly bad. Intelligence-insultingly bad. Stunningly wretched, even. It wasn’t fun.

Then, about two weeks ago on the Memphis Tigers message board, an ad popped up from one of the long-time posters. He was selling a car. What kind of car? I kid you not, a 2001 ZX3 Ford Focus. Blue, no less. I PMed him immediately and he agreed to meet me at my mechanic’s place one afternoon. The car was virtually identical to my dead one. The hood was wrinkled from an accident, it didn’t have power-door locks and had 88,000 miles vs. my old one’s 27,000, but it was cheap and my mechanic gave it a thumbs up. I wrote the check. I did have to put some money into it, but I expected to. I may even have to put a little more, who knows? But the happy ending is that I am once again driving a nifty little 2001 Ford Focus hatchback, and at a fraction of the cost that I might have had to pay to get something I liked.

One small footnote that shows how foolish manufacturers can be. Ford no longer makes a Focus hatchback. If they did, I would have gone out and bought a brand-new one, even though car notes are anathema to me. I loved the car. But in their infinite wisdom, the big-wigs at Ford discontinued the Focus 2 door hatchback and replace it with the Fiesta hatchback.

Sorry, Ford, no sale on that one.

And so, your friendly neighborhood bookseller is once again wheeled up and ready to ferret out the best books for his bookies to buy. Thanks to you all for sticking with me!