Most people who know me personally are aware of the fact that I’m not a typical manly-man kind of guy. I really don’t fit any of the traditional “guy” stereotypes. I don’t follow sports, I’m not a big workout person, and I once got lost in a Home Depot (which is, in and of itself, a story for another time).
Perhaps most damning of all in this screed of self-emasculation is the fact that I know virtually nothing about cars. However, if I tried, I can certainly fake masculinity from a distance. That seems like something most guys would do. As a guy, you’d like to be seen as manlier than you really are. I can be standing in front of my car with the hood raised, talking to myself, and you might pass by thinking, “Oh, he looks like he’s trying to figure out how to fix his radiator.” But if you were get closer, you would realize that all I was doing was reciting the lyrics to “Red Barchetta” by Rush because that pretty much encompasses everything I know about cars.
So, with all that in mind, I am proud to say that this week, I became a man. Because I replaced a burnt-out headlight in my car. I was working down there, had the hood up and everything, and by the time it was all said and done, my nuts were about 10% hairier. (Which now brings up the total number of nuthairs to 5 1/2, in case you’re keeping score. And I don’t know why you would be.)
Now, I realize that replacing a headlight is hardly the most difficult thing to do in regards to auto repair, but it’s a huge milestone for me. It’s the manliest thing I’ve ever done. I honestly haven’t done anything at this magnitude of manliness since spilling barbecue sauce on my blue jeans about ten months ago…
…okay, okay, I confess: I didn’t actually replace the headlight all by myself. In fact, I wasn’t even the one who actually physically switched the bulbs. Since I possess a prog-rock song’s worth of car knowledge, I enlisted the assistance of my father to complete this task of replacing the headlight. I’ve never written about my father before—I’ve never even talked about him in my stand-up material—so I do want to preface the next part of this story with a little background about him.
My dad has a history of being a bit stubborn at times. I’m can be hard-headed sometimes as well, and his genes are the reason. Here is a very apt summary of my dad within the context of this story: my father, when faced with a task, has a compulsive need to complete the task entirely by himself. He has to do it—no one else can. And if there IS someone else involved, he will take care of the bulk of what needs to be done and relegate the other person to some mundane aspect of the task.
Therefore, in the case of this headlight replacement, he decides to take over the entire operation, and then give me a small job to at least make me feel like I’m contributing something. While he is down there, trying to figure out how to replace the bulb, my job is to hold up the hood of my car to keep it from falling and snapping his neck in two. (And for the record, I’m not one to brag much, but I was holding up the SHIT out of that hood. It was fuckin’ beautiful. A gorgeous display, if I may say so myself.)
A few minutes later, my dad stands up and says, “Hold on a second, I’ll be right back,” and walks away. When he does this, I’m thinking that perhaps he’s going to retrieve a tool or instrument of some kind to help him complete the task of replacing the headlight. A fair presumption, right? Instead, he walks out of the garage—I shit you not—with a 4-foot-long piece of lumber. Then he goes, “Check this out,” and wedges it between the front bumper and the hood of my car, thus propping the hood up.
At that point, I realized my dad just outsourced my job to a FUCKING PIECE OF LUMBER. I had gotten replaced by a completely inanimate object. Do you have any idea how worthless that makes you feel as a human being? I realize that I’m a skinny, frail, feeble human being—hell, I’m so skinny that I can’t go outside on a windy day unless I want to end up in Omaha—but I thought I was holding the hood up just fine. Apparently, my dad saw a different story. For him to have gone out of his way to replace his primary assistant like that means he must have been watching me hold up the hood of the car and thinking to himself, “Oh my God, this is absolutely pathetic. Look at him struggle; he is about to buckle under that fuckin’ hood. One-thirty in the afternoon isn’t too early to break out the George Dickel, is it? I better get something between him and that thing or I’m gonna goddamn DIE.”
I’ve never felt more betrayed in my life. My father hath forsaken me for a piece of lumber. I would have loved to hit him in the face with said piece of lumber, but I didn’t. Not because I’m a considerate human being.
But because I’m so small I probably wouldn’t have been able to LIFT the fucking thing.
Until next time,