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Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2005 - 4:23 p.m.

A milestone, literally

I go down to the gym this morning -- yes, for the first time since I got married a month and a half ago; what of it? -- and when I walk in, there are two people there and VH1 on the TV in front of the unoccupied elliptical trainer. And there's Madonna strutting around in pretty much a pink bathing suit and top. Maybe it was a leotard, whatever.

So I heard Madonna's new single, "Hung Up" ... twice in 18 minutes. The video ended, VH1 ran a few promos and some commercials and played Fiona Apple's "O' Sailor" and then went right back into an encore of "Hung Up." About 10 of my first 18 minutes were filled with Madonna dancin' and struttin' and thrustin'. I have to say -- and this isn't something I would expect myself to say -- it's not a bad song. At least not for working out or being out in a club. Or for the opening scenes of a very special CSI: Miami that's going to, before the end of the episode, cross over to CSI: NY.

[I'm just watching the DVRed crossover now, and the writers clearly haven't done enough research: twice they've refered to the University of Miami as "Miami University." Folks at The U. will be sure to tell you that the Florida institution is the University of Miami; Miami University is in Ohio, otherwise known as Miami (Ohio).]

After the second go-round on "Hung Up," on came the Foo Fighters' "DOA," which made me dizzy . In that video, a hampster running on a wheel turns another, attached wheel with an illuminated notch that turns slowly clockwise. As it does and we flash back to it, the scenes with the band throughout the entire video rotate to correspond with the turning wheel. Staring at that while on an elliptical machine can make you a little wobbly.

* * *

Two days ago, it happened. Roughtly 3:55 p.m., northbound River Road, Edgewater, Springsteen's "Growin' Up" on the stereo. Just as I approached or passed Rusty Kale's pub, I managed to look down at my odometer.

100,000 miles.

In five years, four months, 29 days, I drove my car 100,000 miles, mostly around New Jersey. But also to Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Maine, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cape Cod and the Hamptons. It averages out to 18,450 miles per year. Over the 47,448 hours in that time, it averages out to 2.1 miles for each hour I've owned the car; 354.6 miles each week.

It came up quickly on me, especially the last 1,000 and 100 miles. "It's coming up," I'd say to friends. "It'll happen soon," I told them. And then when it did, I was barely aware of it. That would've pissed me off, if I missed it.

But now all six slots for the digits on my odometer are lit up in digital red numerals. Now it feels like an old car, when all this time I still felt it was new, despite the years of travel, oil changes, new brakes and tires, a new windshield and driver's side window motor. I'm not ready for a new one yet, but passing this mark tells me that time is probably coming sooner rather than later. Maybe it'll make it another five years or 100,000 miles, but that may be too much to ask.

The only thing I think I'd change would be the timing. I'd hoped to splurge and have the car fully detailed upon reaching this -- ahem -- milestone. But to do that right before the winter would just be throwing the money away. So tomorrow, after this storm passes, it's a simple oil change and wash and on with the routine.

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