rust never sleeps, and rarely runs
Cars are objects to be reviled.
They are loathsome, Rube Goldbergian
rattletrap greenback guzzlers.
Inexplicably, they are canonized
by everyone from grease-ball piston-heads
to pop musicians (T-Rex immediately comes
to mind). Yet, you can be damn sure that
when you are in a frenzied pinch and
need to quick-get-there-from-here, they will
always forsake you, sputtering and wheezing
to a sheet-metal death.
It is most perplexing, then, that in these
bizarre walk-on-eggshells politically
correct times, that it always
winds up being the dads of the world
who are counted upon to divine some ancient and arcane car fix-it
wizardry when it seems for all the world
that the family ride has breathed its last.
When did society decide there is some
genetic predisposition programmed into
us ol' dads giving us the great
gift of Mayberry garage-jockey Goober?
Ever look under a hood?
There is filth, and grease and fluids and
wires and belts and pinging and banging and
clanging and heat and some heavy, acrid aroma
like the vomitous after-wind a flushed toilet kicks up after
you have heaved bile-laced bits. At least
after you toss you feel better.
When the family car goes GRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrruhhh
and you put up the hood, THAT'S when it's churn-time
for the belly of we dads.
Well, most of us dads anyway. There are
hot-dogs out there, the ones who mastered
A.C. Gilbert's Erector set; the ones who knew
what to do when a bike's chain fell off and now
know the mysteries of turning over an ignition
with a common screwdriver (slot or Phillips head).
The rest of us rely on voodoo. Chanting mechanical
mantras behind the wheel
("please start please start please start"),
smashing our dadly-fists on polymer dashboards
for catharsis (then doing anything possible
to cover up the severe self-inflicted pain and
damage to the heels of our hands), and, for those
of us practicing an organized religion, the litany
of legitimate prayers to the Almighty, promising to
never ask for another thing forever and ever amen as
long as the minivan motor turns over.
None one of these things work.
The best we can hope for is prophylactic parity
with the wisenheimer hot-rod dads, the ones with
a metric socket-wrench kit in each vehicle, the
ones whose happy children always make it to scouting and
birthdays and beaches on time and in top-cruising comfort.
Yep --- for the rest of us preventive
maintenance is the only game in town. That means
a semi-regular billfold-bilking by the corner garage
geek who, but for the grace of God, didn't quite get
Unix but knows enough to drain an oil pan and then
drain your bank balance to pay for it.
Let them have their little fun.
And let the minivan dads and the Jeep Cherokee
weenies parade their exquisitely tuned contraptions
around town with their scrubbed little
Osh-Kosh-wearing little bowl-cut noodniks in tow,
full of confidence that (A) their wheels are,
of course, still under warranty, and that
(B) there's a made-for-Yup-comfort 800 help number
decaled on their tinted windshield that will serve
them all brie and send them a limo for their trouble
when the tow comes, and (C) if the cellular's down,
dad's got those metric socket wrenches, and dammit,
he knows how to use them.
My kids are somehow better off.
When their time comes, they will have stored in their
memory banks the lexicon needed to shame the most
monstrous of beer-bellied truck drivers -- they will
know to raise the hood of their rust-encrusted
car like a white flag at Antietam and walk the
berm into the sunset -- they will know the pleasures
of Sunday brunch at Chi-Chi's after netting a whopping
fifty bucks for euthanizing the rust-bucket that
embarrassed them in front of all their little
upwardly-mobile Beamer-riding classmates at the
land-o-the-minivan school drop-off.
For they know that the automobile is the supreme enemy.
Makes you think that the good old days were probably
indeed good. At least back then, dads could kak
their gluepot family horse and after a simple
evisceration, bring home a winter's worth of meat,
hailed as the conquering hunter-hero.
Special thanks for the bandwidth to the fine folks @ multiverse.com