Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Tiny Idea (Part 1) - A Guest Blog by Mark Shapiro

Growing up in Southern California, the subject of cars was pervasive. Casual conversation would rarely cover the weather, but there was never a dull moment when the topic of cars came up. I grew up in the epicenter of the car culture.
I love my car. As a matter of fact, I have always loved cars eversince I was very little. Cars can go incredibly fast, stop on a dime, and zip around corners like they are glued to the road. There are millions of different models and colors, going back over 100 years. I mean, really; what’s not to love about cars?
I hate my car. I hate all cars. They are a pain in the ass when they break. They get into accidents, hurt people, and  use a ton of energy and pollute. They are despicable.
What a hypocrite I must be. Cars were my life and I made a living off these things. I should know better now, but I’m still in love. This is my personal example of the love-hate relationship.
Most of us depend on our cars. Without them, we feel helpless and weak.
One day, on the way to an important meeting, the car sputters for a moment. Oh shit! What to do? Then the car comes back to life and there is an enormous relief. The stomach settles and the adrenaline stops pumping.
Back in college, I was driving my 59 Rambler  home late one afternoon, when the car suddenly died. I coasted it to a parking spot and walked home. I was so upset about it, I couldn’t even get up the nerve to look at it for two weeks.

Finally, with my hands shaking, I lifted the hood to discover that the problem was minor. A coil wire had merely fallen off the distributor cap—a lot of terror over nothing.
 Years later, after I became a mechanic, a  friend of a friend allowed me to drive his Porsche 930 twin turbo race car, on city streets! I was so excited, I couldn’t use my foot to modulate the throttle properly, so I floored it. The G forces pinned me to the Ricaro seat. Zero to 60 in less then 3 seconds. What a ride!  The incredible excitement stayed with me for hours. 

My relationship with cars illustrates the special love and special hate relationships we all have. Typically, they are with other people; but often they can include objects, animals, plants, or even ideas. What they all have in common is the seeming ability to bring passion and drama to our lives. In other words, it makes our lives seem real by sucking us into the play as it unfolds.
Our thoughts and feelings are jumping all over the place. One minute I’m madly in love, the next, I feel like I’ve been victimized and absolutely hate the person I loved before. These are the stories of our lives. They make us who we believe we are. But what if that isn’t who we are? Is that even possible? My love feels so real, it has to be true, it has to be! And doesn't the story of  Romeo and Juliet, the world’s greatest lovers who killed themselves so tragically for love,  prove that love is real?

Several years ago I gave a ride to a woman who had just left her husband for the second or third time. Her body was bruised and she cried continuously as I brought her to family she was going to stay with until she could re-unite with her husband.
 I asked her what happened and how she got her bruises.
“He beats me.” she replied. Then I asked her why she’s going back to him. “Because I love him,” she said.
“Because she loves him," I repeated to myself, utterly blown away by the simplicity and the complexity of her remark. Why would anyone who has the freedom to leave, want to remain in an abusive situation? This question made me very uncomfortable. I had to ask her, “Do you think he’ll do it again?” Quickly she replied, “Probably.”
That response had me spinning. With little hope of things getting better, this badly beaten, good-looking woman was more than ready to step back into the lion’s den.
She told me she didn’t like being beaten up and I believed her. I thought that if I asked the question again, only asked it better, I would get a different response. But every time I rephrased the question, I got the same response:  “because I love him.”
There was definitely something going on there. But whatever that was, was beyond my comprehension.

What do you think? Please share your ideas. If you don’t want to make them public, write to:, and if I use them, I will do so anonymously.

 About Mark Shapiro: Mark was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He lived in California until he moved to Hawaii in 1991, where he currently resides. What happened during this time is of no consequence; the events are only stories.

When Mark was 8 years old, he liked watching old movies. At 65, he still likes watching old movies. On his 12th birthday, he surfed for the first time. At 13, he learned to play the tuba, which he enjoyed. He no longer plays the tuba but continues to surf.

Mark was never fond of going to school, until he went to college, where learning was fun. He was one class short of earning his degree in Radio, Television, and Film, but didn’t care because he was working in Public Television. One of the programs he produced was about car repair. He later left television and went back to school to learn auto repair. He set up a business to help people learn about automobile maintenance and diagnosis.

In 1988 he retired because of health issues. He currently drives a 1990 Toyota Corolla Wagon with a 5-speed transmission. It’s the best car he has ever owned.


- Ariel Murphy


  1. It would seem from your story of the woman that there is a very thin line between co-dependency and love. But then what is love? Thank you Mark for sharing your thought-provoking essay.

  2. Early in our relationship, my new companion asked "Do you love me?" I replied, somewhat flippantly "Who knows what love is?!?" In my mind, I intended my response to be a riff on the rhetorical question "Who knows what 'normal' is?" But apparently, there's nothing 'normal' about love.

  3. Unfortunately this is all too familiar to me but the roles were reversed - from 1976 to 1982 - I was stabbed, shot at, strangled & close to death several times by my wife, but kept going back because I DID love her & still do may she RIP - I feel that Love Conquers All, but sometimes you just have to save yourself - she's gone now, but I ended up with the best son (actually step-son) a man could want. I've known him since he was 15 and is now 56 - longest & best friend I've had. As her Cuban Godfather used to tell me - No hay mal, que por bien no venga - There is no bad that good cannot come of it.

  4. I've been fortunate not to have been in an abusive relationship and am hoping I never will. On the other hand, not all of my "special relationships" over the years have been "successful." While it is true that I've been in the dumps because of failed relationships I am also grateful for what I've learned and become precisely because of those relationships.