In retrospect, instead of dropping $900 on my first car, it would have been easier (and cheaper) to simply walk up to all the attractive girls in my high school, one at a time, and tell them I was gay.
It certainly couldn’t have hurt my chances any worse than my 1984 Buick Regal, a car that would later be imported by China as a way to curtail teen pregnancy.
Had I any working knowledge of mechanics, I probably could have fixed the vehicle’s myriad problems in a weekend. Sadly, the only thing I’ve learned over the years about auto maintenance is that, when checking the oil, taste has nothing to do with it.
The good news is that I’m not alone. There are tons of men out there who don’t know the first thing about fixing cars, including doctors, lawyers, and auto mechanics. These are regular, hard-working guys, shamed by society simply because they possess the same amount of automotive knowledge as ham.
Fellas, it’s okay. Ask any psychiatrist and they’ll say that admitting you have a problem is the first step towards making excuses for it, so allow me to start the healing process:
Hello, my name is Gregg, and I first realized my mechanical deficiencies eight years ago. I was still courting my wife (which is to say I listened to her when she spoke and occasionally used a fork to eat mashed potatoes), when we found ourselves traveling down the highway, listening to a rather ominous clanking sound coming from beneath the hood of my Ford Tempo. Naturally concerned for her safety, I ignored it.
Whenever I’m driving alone, this method has always seemed to remedy the problem. On this day, however, the only thing it remedied was my wife’s desire to bear my children; her idea was for me to pull over and take a look at the engine.
Though this suggestion lacked even a kernel of logic, my wife employed her keen debate skills by bringing up the very valid point that she did, indeed, have breasts. Even today, after eight years together, it’s an argument that works no matter what the circumstance.
So I pulled over. Two hours later, after much poking and prodding, my wife finally pointed out that I was looking in the trunk (which explained why the engine had suddenly transformed into a pair of dirty football cleats).
At the front with the hood up, I discovered two things right away:
1) Tempos don’t have the kind of hoods that stay up by themselves.
2) Head wounds bleed a lot.
On the plus side, pinned beneath the hood, I got a great view of the bent fan blade that had caused the clanking; now all I had to do was fix it. Ten minutes later, I’d checked both the oil and windshield washer fluid, yet the fan still remained bent. Kicking the tires did nothing either, nor did cursing at the fan loudly.
I was stumped.
Thankfully, while I utilized my vast array of profanity, my wife utilized her cell phone to call a tow truck driver, who took one look at the bent fan and informed me that it had nothing to do with the clanking sound I’d heard.
Turns out some random part that cost .005 cents to make and $1,500 to install had cracked, which is common in cars with warranties that have recently expired.
I did take one lesson away from the experience: After losing several pints of blood, getting ripped off by a repair shop doesn’t hurt as bad.