Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

So it's 1990 and I'm twenty-two and my sleek, beautiful Fiat is still sleek and beautiful and the Blazer that will T-bone me in a downtown San Diego intersection and leave the car in a state that will make the body-shop mechanic go "Wow" is still somewheres off in the future. I love my Fiat, for no other reason than it's a convertible and it leaves my hair in great snarled wads whenever I get where I'm going. I refuse to put the top up, because, dammit, it's image we're talking about here and, dammit, I can use all the image I can get.

Of course, being a Fiat the car has a few, ah, mechanical problems. Italian clothes and food, yes. Italian cars, no. Fiats are sleek and beautiful, but you don't want to actually drive them.

For instance, from the passenger's seat, you can see the road zipping along underneath you. At some point, a random underpart of the car fell off and left a small but terrifying hole where your feet go. It's like riding in a very fast, shallow-water, glass-bottomed boat.

And the stick shift keeps falling out. The ball-and-socket that holds the actual stick into the transmission wears out -- twice so far -- and let's me pull the actual stick up into the actual air and wave it around.

I love offering rides to people.

We'll get out onto the freeway and speed up to sixty or sixty-five and the little sewing machine under the hood will be buzzing this high-pitched buzz and the car will be vibrating and shuttering in unsettling and menacing ways. This, of course, is when I point out the hole in the floor.

"My God," they say. "There's a hole in the car?"

"Well, yeah. It's a Fiat, remember."

"You can see the road."

"That's why they call it a hole."

"But... What else is wrong with it?"

"Hardly anything," I say. "In fact, I do--" And then I yank the stick shift up out of the transmission and start screaming and waving it around and looking panicked.

It's pretty funny. Unless I can't get the stick to go back in.

So I'm walking along Santa Monica Boulevard, when a van comes rolling towards me, driving slowly and purposefully. It's light brown, sun-bleached, and painted on the sides are enormous white and red letters, proof that being pious doesn't mean you can rhyme:

READ THE BIBLE
WHILE YOU'RE ABLE

The roof is festooned with loudspeakers, all pointing helter-skelter, and the driver holds a microphone to his lips. As the van passes, he looks directly at me and solemnly intones, "Jezzzx Kkrsswst esz Lxrzd! Rxzenz yxzr sxnnz anz rezxeze exeernzz lefzz nz Hezzxn!"

I figure he was speaking in Tongues.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is greg@eod.com. I'd love to hear from you!

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