When I was younger I used to fix cars with my daddy. My daddy is no mechanic, but he knows how to do more than a few things to a car. And there were plenty of days that he came up with a reason for me to be in the sweltering garage with him, holding this tool or pointing a flashlight at that. He would explain carefully, in his daddy way, what he was doing, how, what larger impact it had on the car. And I, both in love with cars and just being happy to hang out with my daddy, would listen intently. I probably couldn’t do a single bit of it today, but at one point in my childhood, I knew how to do an oil change, flush every major fluid system, change the breaks, and change a flat tire. As a kid, I thought he was just coming up with reasons to spend time with me. As an adult, I realized, after watching him shoot evil glances at and ignore the only two men I have bothered to bring to meet him, that what he really wanted is to make sure I didn’t ever “need” a man, and would judge harshly any man that can’t do those stereotypically masculine things that even I could do.
Well, he succeeded.
Not too long after The Great Houdini and I imploded, I was… not in a good place, to say the least. But I was dating. A LOT. Like, a lot a lot. I didn’t have any business dating at all, but, well, I was stubborn and heartbroken and determined to not feel anything remotely akin to sorrow after being unceremoniously abandoned. So I was dating. I was dating Kappa Boy, and the crazy, older Dominican chick, and a couple of other people whose names and faces I cannot recall because we only went on a date or two. This is one such date.
My first clue that he and I might not be equally matched, should have been the fact that when I met him at Jamba Juice he was getting a gluten free, vegan acai berry something or other, and VERY EMPHATIC that he needed to watch the girl make it to make sure she did it “right.”
But I, being a perv and distracted by the bulge in his sweatpants, chose to overlook that when he flashed an adorable, slightly crooked smile at me, paid for my totally normal person smoothie and introduced himself. He was charming, if a bit stiff and formal. But, I figured, hadn’t I just gotten out of a relationship with someone who was the complete opposite? And how well had that shit turned out? So I thought that maybe I should try dating outside my normal type. So when he asked me to go out with him later in the week, I agreed.
Saturday rolled around and we (read: I, as he was indecisive as fuck) had decided on a place we would go have drinks, and later dinner if we wanted. The bar was fairly upscale, so I decided to put on my standard date uniform: little black dress. Sky high heels. Red lipstick. When he came to pick me up, he seemed fairly appreciative of my outfit choice.
Our date was fun, if vanilla. But he was sweet, polite to the bartender, and such a gentleman. We decided over our second round that we would grab dinner at a restaurant not too far from where we were. He closed out our tab, leaving the attentive and heavy handed girl behind the bar a big tip (this always gets huge points from me), and escorted me out to the car. We were halfway to the restaurant when I realized his wheel was shaking and the car was pulling to the right.
“Is everything ok?” I asked him. He shot me a faux calm look.
“Sure. Everything is fine. Why do you ask?”
“Because your wheel is shaking like a vibrator, and your car is pulling hard to the right.”
“Oh, that’s nothing. It’s totally fine.”
“But it wasn’t doing that on the way here.”
“It was you just didn’t notice.”
“I am pretty sure that I would have noticed that.”
“Well, what do you think is wrong with it?”
“Well, either you’re having trouble with your driveshaft or, more likely, you have a flat somewhere on the passenger side.”
He looked at me with a mixture of confusion and awe, as he pulled over to the left shoulder. He got out and walked around to the passenger side, careful to not step in the way of oncoming traffic, while I checked my cell to see if KB had called. After a few minutes, he rapped on my window, motioning for me to get out.
Not wanting to seem like a diva, I got out and followed him to the rear passenger side tire which, sure enough, was flatter than pre-puberty boobs. He motioned to it helplessly.
“What should we do?”
It was my turn to look at him with a mixture of confusion and awe. He doesn’t know what to do for a flat tire? Jesus wept.
“Well,” I replied, choosing my words very carefully, “do you have AAA?”
“Well, you should check with your car insurance. Often times if you have full coverage, they will send someone to fix your car or tow you to a safe place.”
“How do you know all this stuff?” Um… I read? I said in my head.
“I’ve just had to use the service before with my car insurance.”
We got back in the car while he called his insurance company. He did have full coverage and they could send someone to fix the tire… in two hours.
“Well,” he said, “I guess we will just have to wait.”
I was completely, totally, and utterly confused. We have to wait for two hours for someone to come put your spare on? Why on EARTH would we do that?
“Do you have a spare, a jack, and a tire iron?”
“So, then just change it. That way we can still go to dinner and don’t have to wait two hours on the side of the highway for someone to come do it.”
He stared at me in silence in the darkness, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.
“Well, the thing is, I, um, it’s just that…”
“It’s just that what?”
“I don’t know how to change a tire.”
“Who doesn’t know how to change a tire?! My daddy taught me how to do that when I was like 9,” I blurted out before I could stop myself.
It just wasn’t adding up for me. He grew up with his dad and two older brothers. And while the entire bunch was as white collar as they come, I figured that at SOME point, if my own daddy had taught his DAUGHTER how to change a tire, then shouldn’t this certainly be some sort of rite of passage for men?
“I… just… don’t know how.”
“Well, excuse me Rosie the riveter. My father did stuff with me like helping me with homework and teaching me golf. Not letting me play with dirty, dangerous car parts.”
I turned my head very slowly, pinning him to the driver side door with the coldest, nigga did you just insult my daddy?! glare I have ever given anybody in my entire life.
“You father also obviously spent a significant amount of time removing your balls little by little, but if you’re happy with your father-son activities so I am.”
“Hey, wait a-“
“Shut the fuck up you elitist, helpless piece of shit and get me the jack and your spare.”
“It’s in the trunk.”
“SO GET IT.”
“All the cars coming…”
“Oh, Jesus Christ. Just pop the trunk. I’ll get the jack and you can get yourself a tampon out of my purse.”
I got out without another word, angrily striding to the truck and banging hard on it when I reached it and realized he hadn’t popped it yet. When he finally did, I noticed he had a nice little toolbox for roadside repairs that probably had never been opened. I was removing that and the spare when he finally got out of the car and walked back to where I was.
“Is there anything you need me to do?”
“What is the point of having an entire toolbox back here if you don’t use it?”
“I mean it’s just in case-“
“No, I get it. You probably also have a box of condoms in your glove compartment you aren’t going to use tonight either.”
“Look. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Yes. Hold this flashlight so I can see and shut the fuck up.”
I walked around to the flat tire, pulled my dress up high on my thighs, and squatted down to see what I was doing, thankful that at least if I flashed my ass to the oncoming traffic, I had on pretty panties. Once I figured out how to balance myself evenly on my high ass heels and the balls of my feet while crouching, I was in business. It took me far longer than it should have, what with me hoping my anger was enough to make me strong enough to loosen the lug nuts, jack the car up, take off the flat and then secure the spare. But I finally got it done. I stood up, my hands dirty, my fresh manicure chipped, my thighs streaked with black dirt and grease. This date was over.
“Take me home, please,” I said through gritted teeth.
We rode the entire way in silence, with him shooting me dirty looks, and me discretely wiping my dirty hands all over his tan interior. He stopped abruptly at the curb at my house, not even bothering to look at me or put the car in park. I made a point of laying one hand flat against the tan cloth lining the door, and the other on the seat to push myself out of the low coupe, leaving handprints in my wake, and slammed the car door as soon as I was out. I stalked into my house, furious that not only did I have to change a fucking flat on the side of the road, but that he had the nerve to be so nasty about it, like I was the one who had skipped the flat tire lesson in his Things Guys Know How to Do manual. I went inside and did the only thing I really could do…
I called Kappa Boy so he could come get me, take me to his place and toss me around a little bit, make me feel like a woman again.
This is why I take my own car on dates now.