The Danger Bug
The Danger Bug is alive and well in our house. Our old friend Bob the Virus couldn’t make it this year, so he sent his apprentice. The Danger Bug has been passed around our house for a while now. My asthma has flared to the point that the local Community College has asked me to teach next semester’s Lamaze classes. NukeGirl is on day 3 of home leave for her patented “From 98.6 to 101.4 in 20 Minutes” fever spike. NukeMom came home early yesterday, and not for a quiet afternoon at home with the family, but to seek out bed, pillow and Nyquil. Yesterday was a snow day as well, seeing as how we received almost 3/4 of an inch of snow that stopped at 6pm; the school board saw fit to call us at 10:44pm to inform us that school was cancelled the next day. The NukeBoys enjoyed 30 minutes of making mud angels and slush balls.
I also had a Danger Bug when I was in High School. My little sisters were cursed with it after I finally escaped the clutches of the evil beast. It was a 1971 VW Beetle. Not the Super Beetle, mind you, with an actual dashboard; just a Beetle-with the windshield closer to my face than my eyeglasses are now. My father had bought it for me with the intention of passing it on to Laura and Stacey when they became drivers. He had the best of intentions, but pride wouldn’t allow him to admit he had been defeated. See; he had owned two Beetles previously: one was his, the other was my older sister Leta’s. Both of them were reliable and never caused any problems. The Danger Bug was like the Ebola virus in sheet metal. That thing never ran right; not ever. The right rear wheel would rattle and shake when you made a left hand turn. The exhaust hoses in the engine compartment needed to be replaced on a monthly basis, lest I wanted to take the proverbial CO2 dirt nap. It would sputter and pop and grunt and groan like an old man trying to get out of bed in the morning. It was really annoying. So I did what any 16 year old boy would do; I sank $400 of stereo equipment into it so I wouldn’t have to listen to the racket.
I started off with a Concord deck with a pair of Pioneer 6×9′s in wooden boxes behind the back seat. But I could still hear the rear tire rattle. Then I added 5 1/4 inch speakers in the front doors. I could still hear the engine cough. I added 2 more 6×9′s in the back, mounting all 4 on a board that spanned the entire trunk. But I could still hear the grunts and moans. I finally bought a new board, mounted (2) 6×9′s in it for the back, took out the 5 1/4 inch speakers in the front doors and replaced them with 6×9′s. That’s kind of like trying to drive while you’re wearing Ronald McDonald’s big red shoes. I got the 6×9′s to fit in the front doors, but you had to really slam the door if you wanted it shut. This last configuration was almost perfect, but I could still hear some of the awaiting repair jobs whispering to me. So I bought an 80 watt booster/equalizer to help me over the hump. It worked! Within the first 3 days I couldn’t hear anything from the engine compartment! Or from my teachers! Or my friends! Or my parents! (Please enter your “Our amplifiers go to 11″ jokes here) I was able to rupture both eardrums with that stereo system. My father once came OUT OF THE HOUSE to tell me to turn my stereo down when I was sitting in front of the house. That’s power. Kids today drive around with their sub-woofers and bass boosters that rattle their trunk hinges to look cool, back then I did it to deaden the sound of my car falling apart. OK, I wanted to look, and sound, a little cool too, I guess.
I’ll never forget hearing Just What I Needed by The Cars for the first time in the Danger Bug. The bass notes were exploding in my chest. It was like laying on a washing machine during the spin cycle with an uneven load. Not that I would have any experience in that, it just seemed like a decent analogy. Paranoid by Black Sabbath almost cost me a rear window and my left eardrum. Hell’s Bell’s by AC/DC did cost me my left eardrum and a 32oz soda that wasn’t secured properly. In the 4 years that I was in possession of the Danger Bug I did forge some fond memories, but they were more musical than auto related. I see some of the old VW Bugs on the road every now and then and it brings a smile to my face. I think of the Danger Bug and the incredible sound system I had in there, and remember a more innocent time. Then I think of all the engine trouble and say a silent prayer for those who still own one. JC Whitney rejoices.