My friend Karen used to have an old Dodge Aspen, and we spent the entire summer riding around in it while smoking pot and listening to Pink Floyd. We were both nineteen, and neither of us were in school, so riding around and getting stoned while Saucerful of Secrets blared on her kick-ass car speakers seemed like a lot more fun than anything else we could think of.
One day we were doing just that, when we noticed a parked car that was almost identical to hers. The only difference was that this car had a gas cap. Karen's did not. She had lost her gas cap a couple of weeks before, and had gone to several auto parts stores looking for a replacement. For some reason, none of the stores stocked that particular item, and it turned out that she would have to special order it from the manufacturer. Or something. I don't know exactly, but it was something like that. It wasn't my problem, but I was aware that she was having difficulties replacing her gas cap. In the meantime, however, she made do by stuffing a red rag into the gas hole, which I thought made the car look like a molotov cocktail, but it seemed to work sufficiently for the time being.
As you may know, many scientific studies have indicated that smoking marijuana on a daily basis can degrade one's problem solving skills, yet it did not take us very long to figure out that we could easily solve her gas cap problem by simply removing the gas cap from this other car and putting it on her car. See? Nothing wrong with our brains. And, yes, I know stealing is wrong, but we were young and high and didn't give a shit, whattaya gonna do.
So we pulled in beside the parked car and both of us got out. I had look-out duty while she unscrewed the gas cap from the other car. Once she had it screwed onto her car, we quickly decided that the most moral thing would be to stuff the red rag into the other car's gas hole, so as not to leave the other person completely empty handed. It was the least we could do.
As we drove away, we mused over how the presence of the red rag would add an extra layer of puzzlement for the owner of the other car.
The very next day Karen's dad presented her with one shiny, brand-spanking-new gas cap. Being one of those salt-of-the-earth/leave-it-to-beaver type of dads, he had possessed the proper skills required to hunt down and obtain virtually any gas cap in the world, a skill which nineteen year old pot heads seem to lack for some reason. Instead of informing him that she had already taken care of the situation via an act of crime, she decided to just accept the gas cap graciously, and tell him what a great dad he was, and what would she do without him, etc. She promptly took the new gas cap out to her car, still in its original packaging, and tossed it in the backseat.
And that, we assumed, was that.
About two months and 180 joints later, we were riding around, getting high and listening to Pink Floyd. I think we had musically worked our way up to Ummagumma by then. Or maybe it was Meddle. I'm not sure, but at one point we turned a corner, and there, before us, was that same car. It was now parked in a different parking lot, but it still had that same red rag stuffed into the gas hole. Apparently, we were not the only ones who lacked the amazing gas-cap-finding skills of Karen's dad. It really did look like a giant molotov cocktail, I thought to myself.
We pulled over and both of us got out. I stood guard while Karen yanked the rag out of the gas hole and screwed on the shiny new cap. The car certainly looked a lot more respectable without that rag sticking out of the side, and we lingered for just a moment to admire our work. We were quite pleased with ourselves.
As we drove away, we felt a certain satisfaction with how the loose ends had tied up so neatly, and wondered whether or not the car's owner would find the whole thing as amusing as we did.