Crazy B*tch (Memoirs of a Lemon Lover in Recovery)
Chapter 17—But All Engines Burn Oil…
While many other girls my age were going out on Saturday nights, I often was home recovering from a gruelling day in my dad’s shop—fixing something. It was exhausting both physically and financially. Granted, I was not paying shop fees of one hundred dollars an hour, but the parts on my special, shiny, new, blue, imported car were plenty expensive enough.
My dad was still harbouring a bit of a grudge over the ban on trading cars. He felt, quite adamantly, that I was over reacting. I felt, quite adamantly, he was under-reacting. We agreed to disagree, and grumble under our respective breaths. Part of this grudge translated into a more enigmatic communication and instruction style on his part. “When I stick my finger up the exhaust pipe, it comes out black—that’s not good.” When I asked for clarification, he responded with “…it could mean many things, all of which aren’t that good—really.”
We went a few more rounds like this before my dad finally intimated, that it might possibly be perhaps, at least possibly in theory, that in all theoretical likelihood, my engine could likely be burning oil. I argued, whilst quoting some well-respected mechanics we both knew, that engines do burn oil—to some degree—in their normal machinations. My dad agreed, but stated, calmly and slowly, that unless I was using some very poor grade engine oil, there shouldn’t be ‘coke’ lining my tail pipe in such quantities. He then, finally, came right out and said it: I was burning excessive amounts of oil.
Instead of asking how and when I could fix that, I surprised (more like mortally wounded) him by asking how long I could drive my car like that before it stopped running altogether. He gasped, frowned, and then started to paint a horrific scenario for me. It was tragic, I was alone on a dark country road somewhere, it was storming, and my engine was making this deafening clattering sound. There was ugly black smoke everywhere, and though I managed to pull off to the side of the road in time, my engine coughed, sputtered and died. I remained stranded there for two days before someone found me. It was horrible, the whole thing made him tear up a little.
As for me, the plausibility of my being so far from home, and stranded for so long did not rank very high on the plausibility scale. My dad was far too paranoid for that. If he didn’t have some kind of tracking device on my car, then he had some other means of ensuring he knew where my car was at all times. Besides, I was still encountering all the people he “met” while driving my car. It was far more likely one of those special people would drive me off the road long before my engine got around to dying.
My dad was pretty adamant about grinding my valves—or something like that. I, on the other hand, was suffering from a little bit of backyard-mechanic-fatigue. The bloom was officially off the rose, the honeymoon was over—I was tired of being a licensed driver and car owner. It was just too much work: I was tired, I was broke, and I just wanted to curl up in a fetal position and be left alone. Eventually, during one of the “should” lectures, I finally conjured up the courage to tell him this. I wasn’t planning on getting emotional, but I did. In horror I could hear my own voice quaver, and my eyes welled up with tears. The harder I tried to keep it together, the more parts of my body started to quiver and blubber. My lower lip even trembled—that never happens to me!
I felt so much shame, at least until I looked at my dad. He didn’t “tsk-tsk” me and he didn’t even try to dismiss any of the things I was feeling. Instead, he offered compassion, and understanding. He changed his tact from a “hard sell” to something far more subtle. By the time he was done with me, I had somehow agreed to let him work on my car—all by himself and at no cost to me. I understood his finagling to work on my car all by himself, but without holding me responsible for parts—that seemed very odd somehow. When I asked him why he was willing to pay for everything, his response was this cryptic comment about having “discussed the whole thing with Mother” and that there was some mutual agreement that they should do this for me.
The only time my dad calls my mom “Mother” is when he is trouble for something, but is trying to save face—I guess he feels he looks more collegial and less scolded that way. So, my mom was after my dad for something. Interesting…Did she know something I didn’t know? Or had she noticed how much time, money and energy I was sinking into this car? Somehow, I didn’t really want to know. I just wanted a holiday from worrying about my car.
Apparently “Mother” also considered this as well. Before I knew it, not only was my dad set to fix my car—himself, but my mom was also whisking me away on some kind of holiday. She didn’t make it sound like a pity holiday, instead, she convinced me that my staying at my grandparents for a week, would be doing her a huge favour—a favour worth far more dollars than it would ever cost to repair my car. I saw right through her and got all misty all over again. So, while crying like a baby, I agreed to ‘help’ my mother by going to my grandparents so that they could dote on me for the entire time it took my dad to repair my car.