While driving to work one morning, I detected the wonderful aroma of hot, greasy french fries, which was odd because I was at least five miles from the nearest McDonald’s. I finally realized the fragrance was coming from the Mercedes in front of me, which had a window sticker proclaiming, This Car Powered By Vegetable Oil, and the exhaust was...McAmbrosia.
The thought of burning vegetable oil as fuel and going “green” made me as giddy as Lance Armstrong taking off Ashley Olsen’s training wheels. But would it be practical? I rushed home to our pantry. All we had was canola oil. My first thought was, what the heck is a canola? I’ve never seen, heard, or eaten a canola. Then I checked the price--$3.27 a quart. My superior San Marcos High math skills told me that’s exactly...a heck of a lot per gallon, and about as practical as pierced nipples on Mitt Romney.
I love Mother Earth as much as the next guy, except maybe Father Earth, so I began to explore alternative fuels like Anne Heche explored alternative lifestyles.
I discovered biodiesel, a fuel made out of soybeans. At first this seemed like a win-win situation. Not only could the soybean be a valuable fuel source, but anything that might keep tofu off my dinner plate sounded even better to me than a Presidential debate set on mute. But then I started thinking; if the Arabs can (and do) hold the world hostage with their oil supplies, just think what a pain in the neck the American soybean farmers might be. Indiana would want their own Air Force. Kansas might demand their own television news network--Al Kanzeera. Nebraska would command a nationally recognized Hoot Gibson Day and maybe a mountain or two.
The next thing I researched was the hydrogen-powered car. I didn’t spend a lot of time studying this because of two words--hydrogen and oops. I took chemistry, and I never got a grade higher than “I’ll-Pass-You-If-You-Promise-Never-To-Step-Foot-In-My-Class-Again,” but I know they make bombs out of hydrogen. As a matter of fact, the hydrogen bomb that exploded on Bikini Island was 1,000 times more powerful than the atom bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Now, you tell me, do you really want to be on the same road as Britney while she’s driving a hydrogen car and texting Paris?
Then I checked out some new research involving steam automobiles. I love the idea of a world that sounds like a giant tea kettle, but this seemed like a huge step backward to me. Like returning to kerosene lamps, leeching, and brewing our own coffee.
The next alternative fuel I looked into was something called biogas. I’m fairly familiar with biogas (as are my family and coworkers) and I happen to know where there’s an almost inexhaustible, untapped source. But, if I could detect the exhaust from the Mercedes powered by vegetable oil, I have to believe Californians would rather suffer the emissions from a Greyhound bus full of cigar smokers than the fumes from one Mini Cooper fueled by Alexander biogas.
Still, I didn’t give up. I figured from time to time, I could use the greenest form of transportation--walking. This worked pretty well. It gave me time with my thoughts (all three of them), and proved to be a decent form of exercise. However, one Saturday while walking on APS I saw a man by his mailbox who appeared to be naked from the waist down. As I got closer it became apparent that I was correct. Except for a sweatshirt that stated, Global Warming Is Hot, the man was starkers. Once he saw me, I thought he’d scamper back inside, but not this guy. He stood proud as a peacock, and take it from me, he had very little to be proud of. As I walked near him, he nodded and said, “How are you today?” In my best there’s-nothing-unusual-about-a-naked-man-on-the-street voice, I said, “Fine. And you?” He shrugged. “I’m hot, I’m cold. I’m hot, I’m cold.”
I nodded and said, “Looks like global warming has affected your southern hemisphere more than your north.”
So, I’m back to driving, only now, thanks to “naked guy” I’m locking my doors. Yes, just like Anne Heche, I returned to the old standard. And, I’m putting on more miles than ever. I don’t know if it’s me or my truck, but one of us is in love with that french fry emitting Mercedes, and we won’t stop until we find it again.