Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Exactly how long can I hold a grudge?

I wouldn't say I was mechanically inclined overall, but I do enjoy DIY projects. For instance, I decided to extend the patio with paving stones several years ago, and did most of it myself while Bill looked on (slightly bewilderedly, I think - especially when I started digging an enormous hole in his backyard). I love putting things together from kits. This may have started when my brother and I got build-it-yourself crystal radio sets for Christmas one year. Only one station came in clearly, but I would lie awake at night listening to Houston Aeros Hockey (Go Gordie Howe! (Oh, wait. Does that date it?)), and the CBS Radio Mystery Theater with E. G. Marshall (Until next time,....Pleasant....dreams?). I wasn't allowed to have my light on to read (which I would have done all night if allowed), but I could listen to my radio without my parents knowing.

I also like messing around with cars. I once replaced the brakes and brake rotors on my Saturn (with minor help from my brother) and then spent the next eight years mildly surprised that the wheels hadn't fallen off yet.

Soon after he got his driver's license, my son got a 1988 Jeep Wrangler and he and I spent hours tinkering with the engine, trying to keep it running, during which time I think we taught each other some new swear words and spent way more money on parts than I could really afford. We actually managed to replace the head gasket on it at one point. After a few months, we gave up and got him a Honda Civic instead.

Just before William was born, David and I started having trouble with our Dodge Colt. It turned out to be a fusible link, and all we needed to do was twist the wires back together to keep it working for another couple of weeks, until it would burn through again (probably not the safest thing to do). When William was about a month old, it finally got so short the wires barely reached, so I went to Kragen Auto Parts, parked the car, unclipped the fusible link, carried it in, and told the guy I wanted a new one (I'm sure I said please, actually. I used to be extremely polite). He had absolutely no idea what it was.

While I was looking around to see if I could find one myself, William suddenly spat up - all over the floor. Fairly embarrassed, I bent down and started to wipe it up with William's blanket, and the guy suddenly loomed over me and said, "Does your husband know you're messing around with the car?"

Excuse me??? Today, I would probably tell him exactly what I thought of him, but at the time, I was only 24, and still had a lot of trouble talking to strangers (even after working with the general public for years). I couldn't think of anything to say to that. I didn't want to tell him that I knew WAY more about cars than my husband, because that would have been insulting to David. I mumbled something, finished wiping the floor, stood up, and carried William out. And refused to go back to Kragen Auto - any Kragen Auto - for about 16 years. I plugged the fusible link back into the engine and drove down the street to Grand Auto where they actually knew what it was and were able to help me.