April 13, 2010

Horses, Cats, Dogs, and Cars

One cold, cold morning in Colorado, I headed out to my car with the kids in tow. We piled in, then I turned the key. Rather than coughing to life like the old-man car it is, it gave a high-pitched whinny. We glanced around to make sure there wasn't a horse nearby.

There wasn't. I don't know how a horse would have gotten past the gates of our complex anyways. That just doesn't make sense.

So, because there was no horse, it only made sense that the sound came from the car. But why was it whinnying? "Car, you are not a horse. You are a car. Horses are not even allowed in here. Cut it out."


At this point, I pumped the gas pedal a little. Not because that made sense in any way, but when you come from a long line of clunkers, it becomes habit to pump the gas pedal when something goes wrong.

A few more whinnies from my sad, little car and I gave up. Super-Keene came to rescue us (although the kids, not terribly anxious to go to school, didn't see it as a rescue).

Later that night, we tried to start my car again. And again with the horse sound, again with the engine not turning over.

"It's the battery, it must be dead."
"It's the alternator."
"No, it's lupus."
"It isn't lupus."
"Maybe it's the spark plugs."
"No, it must be the battery."

We charged the battery that night, at 11 pm, waited a while, tried starting it. However, the whinnying seemed especially loud so late at night. There must be some correlation between the horsepower and the loudness of horse sounds a car has the ability to make.

Finally, we gave in and called for a tow truck, which hauled the car to the mechanic.

And by the way, did you know you're expected to tip a tow-truck driver? That is news to me. I couldn't understand why.

"It's so they take care of your car and don't leave it with the windows down in the ghetto," Keene said.

"But shouldn't they do that anyways? Why would I even want that person handling my car if he has to receive a tip just to do his job right?"

Anyhow, the car presumably made it to the mechanic's shop safely, despite my having no cash at midnight to give to the tow-truck driver. The next day, the mechanic informed me that it was indeed the spark plugs--something which, fortunately for my bank account, Keene could fix.

Now, here is the good thing about men. Even though we all know a woman could easily do this kind of thing if she wanted, men are eager to do it themselves. It's the grease, the ability to use all of those obscure tools that clutter up the front closet ("See?" they'll say, "I told you I need to keep three sets of sockets around!"). It's the chance to get under the hood of a mechanical beast and rip it apart. It's a glimpse of manliness they may not otherwise get while working at a desk all day.

So we swung by the mechanic's shop to pick up the car and, as the mechanic told me on the phone, it started right up. Why do cars do that? They'll clang and grind and lurch (and whinny, in my case)...but once the mechanic looks at them, they shape up. Cars are like kids who play sick in order to stay home from school, but the moment a doctor comes near them with a needle, they perk up and say, "All better!"

Anyhow, Saturday finally rolled around, a bright and fairly warm day. Keene packed up all the tools he could hold, rolled up his sleeves, put on his headband, and started his day of unchecked manliness.

And now the pictures can start. Finally. I was getting bored with just text too.

Susie, I apologize in advance for objectifying your son:

While he monkey-wrenched, socket-wrenched, and wrench-wrenched, I helped by taking pictures and walking the cat.

Well, not really walking the cat. Mostly a lot of dragging him, lifting him up, then setting him back down in a different place.

While Scar Cat lounged, Yappy Little Dog went bark-crazy from behind the fence. I imagine he was yelling, "Who do you think you are? You're a cat! You have no business being outside on a leash." Yet Scar Cat was wholly unconcerned with Yappy Little Dog.

On a side note, I noticed this sign says, "All pets must be on leashes." Not dogs, pets. Our apartment complex is very open-minded.

The hours wore on as Keene got messier and manlier. And more frustrated. Apparently, changing the spark plugs (and the fuel filter, as a bonus) in this particular car is tricky. I assume it's because the makers of fancy, luxury cars don't expect the owners will be the ones actually doing the repairs.

Infiniti, meet the next generation of your customers.

Six hours after he started, Keene was finished.

And my car and I roared with happiness.

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