- Ward Cleaver's Prozac Fever

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.

Last "dads"
Past "dads"

2003 Arhythmiacs

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