I know more about physics than I do about cars.
This is extremely sad and pathetic, considering the only things I remember from physics are F = MA and the force of gravity is -9.8 something. The only thing I know about how my car works is where to put the gas.
Anatomically speaking, I am a man, and I do some manly things. I like football and beer and eating. I used to be able to bench press more than my body weight. I refuse to use hand lotion and I once threw a television off a bridge.
Unfortunately, the endowment of a Y chromosome and the accompanying primary and secondary sex characteristics are not automatically coupled with other traditional manly characteristics, namely an overriding interest in car maintenance.
A lot of men really like cars and engines, a similar cliché to women and shoes. This is an overused phrase, but I literally could not care less. I drive a Subaru because my mother gave it to me and because it grips the road during a snowstorm like an idiot at a party playing Edward 40-Hands grips his taped-on beverages. Horsepower turns me on about as much as horses.
All of this occasionally comes back to bite me square in the rear, as it did most recently on the day after Thanksgiving. I thought I was being responsible and performing timely maintenance on my vehicle, but I ended up just consigning myself to a four mile walk and a bout of Hulk-rage.
Changing a car battery should be a relatively simple procedure: You disconnect the old one, put the new one in the hole and hook it back up. If your name is Zane Womeldorph, however, you struggle for an hour just to get the old one removed, then when you try to connect the second terminal on the new one you shatter all the eardrums in the Auto Zone parking lot because the car alarm won’t stop blaring.
I have rarely had such an emasculating experience. An old lady parked next to me and performed the exact same procedure in ten minutes, then drove away with disgust on her face as I held my head in shame. She held her tongue, but her face clearly articulated her scorn. If her daughter brought me home for dinner, I would be challenged to an arm wrestle and have my soft hands and clean fingernails kicked to the curb in minutes.
After three hours of fruitless struggle by myself and two separate Auto Zone employees, I gave up and walked to Chick-fil-A. When the guy told me it was his pleasure to serve me, I wanted to punch his stupid face. But he was nice and it wasn’t his fault my car was being a jerk, so I said thanks and ate my chicken sandwich alone. To top things off, my phone was dead so calling for a ride was not possible.
I spent the two-hour walk pulling beers out of my backpack and ruminating on my lack of mechanical know-how. My friend Jake would have been ashamed. He knows everything about cars and my pathetic display of suburban frailty would have brought bile to his lips.
The next day, I had my car towed to the Subaru dealership. My feelings of impotence were somewhat mitigated when they discovered that some giant fuse had burst. This was likely my fault anyways, but at least the issue was slightly more complicated than basic incompetence.
I have since decided that my sense of manliness should not depend on outdated gender norms, although I will still always feel sheepish when I go to Jiffy Lube and I have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. At least I can drive a stick shift.
On my exceedingly long walk home I climbed a fence when no one was watching and pounded my chest like a gorilla, then I picked up the biggest rock I could find and lifted it above my head while yelling a garbled war-cry. I think I traumatized some guy who rode by on his bike, but he would understand. I can’t grow a beard, my car’s engine baffles me and pretty much all high school boys have more armpit hair than I do.
Sometimes you just have to do man stuff. If that means accidentally terrifying a cyclist at 8 p.m. on a dark and lonely bike path while I release my inner primate, then so be it.
Zane Womeldorph is a journalism and political science major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.