It cannot be easy being a guy, especially if you are not only a guy but also a husband. How many un-husbanded guys get looked at with daggers shooting the unspoken words you left the soda bottle out on the counter and have now contributed to the eventual destruction of the world? Very few, I posit, and those few need to find a roommate that is less picky. Husbands are stuck, sorry. Once the poor things cross from guyness into husbandness they begin living on the very edge and their parachute has a hole.
The saddest part is they end up in the quicksand despite the very best of intentions. It’s not that they sit at their desk at work and think, “hmm, what can I say to the wife today to send her directly into cuckoo land?” More likely they stare at their desks in desperation, “Please, please Little Baby Jesus who was smart enough not to get married, please help me not eat my foot today.”
The other bottomless pit is emotions. Not theirs, of course. Ours. Even women don’t truly know how or why it’s possible to morph from laughter to sobs in nanoseconds, we just know it happens and at that moment it makes perfect sense. Do not try to indicate otherwise.
And, of course, Hubs had no idea how emotional I felt this morning about Babs and her troubles. Heck, I didn’t even know how emotional I felt until I found myself tearing up when Sam “The Car Whisperer” called me. I knew immediately it was bad. We’d limped into Cordova this morning in the far right lane just in case we needed to rest on the shoulder for a bit, me gently pushing and letting off the accelerator as her transmission struggled to find a gear it liked. Like all women she’d prefer not to discuss her age and weight but the facts are she’s twelve years old and is carrying the weight of 159,462 miles.
“It’s bad, isn’t it?”
We’ve been taking our cars to Sam for over 20 years. He helped raise my kids, at least as far as cars are concerned. My daughter’s car died one day. Her brother and I met her in the parking lot, took the battery to Batteries R Us where it was confirmed DOA, bought a new battery and returned to her car. It was a pretty old car and the little + and – etchings were missing on the battery, um, things. The things you stick onto the battery. So we guessed.
Did you know that you can short out the entire electrical system of a car in less than one second?
Ring, Ring, “Sam?”
“We need a tow.”
A short time later Sam arrived and quickly understood, despite my prevarication, that I had indeed hooked plus to minus and minus to plus and instructed Jennifer to try starting the car. He turned to us and wagged his finger slowly, “Next time you need help you call ME. DO NOT call your mother. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir,” we nodded in unison.
So this morning I asked, “It’s bad, isn’t it?” and felt myself tearing up.
“She needs a new transmission.”
The images, sounds, and smells of years of the Explorer crammed full of shoes, towels, Gatorade and banana peels as I took stinking runners to and from school, track, cross-country, and cross-country summer camp shot through my mind. I heard again their laughter and jokes as they forgot I was there, driving Babs, driving everywhere, endlessly, me and Babs and teenagers. She’s all that’s left here, now, they are off in Chicago and New York and Babs and I only smell the stink of running if it’s me, those busy exhausting endless years of Mom gone in a missed instant.
I called Hubs sadly. Fortunately he’s a pragmatic man and we will go ahead and have the transplant done, mostly since he figures if we don’t we’ll get no money out of her and she’s going to scrap (oh, ouch, that hurt, Babs sitting alone in a junk yard, slowly being stripped) and if we fix her we have the option of selling her later (OK, but really, I can keep driving her. Really.)
Apparently Hubs thought he should try to cheer me up and sent a link to the space station sighting this evening (which will go unseen here since the horizon is a solid, impenetrable roof of clouds a million miles into space).
I know you are not a nerd but… he started the email.
What the…? “I’m not a nerd”? I AM TOO A NERD.
Dammit. I’m losing all definition here. As my life melts into smaller and smaller puddles I realize I’m Marty McFly – with the sad exception of a modified DeLorean, plutonium, 1.21 gigawatts of power, and a flux capacitor.