I Can’t Get No–August 26, 2008 at 1:19 AM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment
I learned that I am much more introverted than I originally thought. And I thought about it alot, because that’s what introverts do.
I mean, I like people. Sometimes. Not all the time and definitely not for a long time. People are best in small doses. If I can’t make them tired of me and make them want to leave, obviously something is wrong with them.
When I am around people, I’m a fun-loving, easy-going, gregarious fellow. Life of the party, center of attention, et cetera. But no one knows that when I’m by myself I’m actually kind of shy and withdrawn…
I guess you could say I’m a closet introvert.
My friend Serena–the Korean chick–was having car trouble. I agreed to help her, which was my first mistake. But after hearing what a shop charges her (and she takes it, she just takes it!), I figured I could help her, charge her a small fee, and we’d both make out ahead.
Or I could just do it for free, which was her plan.
Saturday she calls me in the middle of the afternoon. "I’m picking up the stuff now from Auto Zone–"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!"
"–And then I’ll be on my–"
"Hold on, hold on!"
I explained that it’s already 2pm, hottest part of the afternoon, going to get hotter. Can we do it tomorrow morning? Early? Okay. She calls Sunday morning about 7 am. Well, hell. Of course I’m sleeping. She eventually calls back about 930, when I’m up. She comes over. Her and Detroit get along, so they chat while I get started. Front brakes. Right side, no problem, really. Of course I did have to drive to my dad’s garage to get the Torx bits.
I start on the left side, and run into a snag as I’m taking off the wheel. One of the lug nuts is missing, so there’s only four of the five. But one of the four is tough to get off. I decide that when I put it back on, I’ll use a different one, and leave this one empty. Un-nutted. I break the other lug nuts, then go back to the tough one, to get it off. It finally comes off.
With the bolt inside it. I twisted it right off. Oh, yes, I am a big, dumb strong guy.
I go in the house, and the two chicks are sitting on the couch, chatting away. I give Serena one of the lug nuts that has a hole in it, and one that is filled with lug bolt. "Tell me the difference between these," I ask.
Detroit takes Serena to Auto zone where she can buy another, and I said, "Bring me back some beer. Six pack. Bud Light. Bottles." Beer is best in a bottle. Serena objects because she doesn’t want me drinking and working on her car. I counter with logic. "It’s a tradition."
"The American Male. You want me to work on your car or not?" She continues to give me crap about it. I pull Detroit aside and tell her, "I’m serious about the beer."
And I am. I’m not a big drinker, but it’s a warm day, and I"m outside working on someone’s car other than my own when I could be laying on the couch in my underwear somewhere between lucidity and reality tv. It’s going to be a pain in the ass already–I can tell–and all the work I’m doing should be worth a blow job yet somehow I doubt it’s going to happen. Detroit won’t feel obligated because it’s not her car, and Serena won’t feel obligated because she’s a bitch. Stuck between a rock and a hard-on….
So at the very least I’m going to drink some beer. I need a radio out here, dammit. While they are gone, I finish the other side and get it back together, just waiting for the rest of the lug nuts.
Now for the hard part. The plan was, front brake pads and rotors, new spark plugs and wires, and a fuel filter. Brakes and rotors are done. I had noticed before that the car was a V-6–I had hoped for a 4 cylinder–and now I examined it more closely. A tune up on a V-6 with front wheel drive is a bitch. Why is it a bitch? Because half of the spark plugs are right in front and easy to get to. Half.
The other half are close to impossible. They are on the backside, between the motor and firewall and all covered with kinds of ridiculous wires, tubes, metal flanges and other sharp yet unidentifiable objects. There is a small hole that resembles a tooth-filled mouth that I have to stick my hand through while I twist my body in an awkward position in order to reach the plugs.
First stop, however, is the wires.
Spark plug wires are supposed to be fairly easy to remove.
That sentence right there basically describes how I spent the next six hours. I started in the back because I wanted to do the hard ones first, and finish up on the front with the easy ones. The back left one was by itself; the middle and the right one were grouped together. I started on the left. The wire pulled out easily.
Leaving the boot attached to the plug. Well, shit. But the boot came off easily enough, lending no foreshadowing to the heartbreak that was to come. I fiddled with the plug for a while trying to get it out, and realized that the metal connector clip was still attached to the plug. I had been trying to turn it, thinking I was turning the plug, and making progress. Instead, it was the opposite. No progress. I finally got the clip off.
Plug came out easily, thanks to my dad’s excellent spark plug socket and ratchet. Replace, and put on a new wire. On to the next. Well, that one plug only took about an hour. To bad I’m not paid by the hour on this job. Next!
The next two plugs are together; I chose the right one. Again the wire pulled out easily, leaving the boot. The boot would not pull. I made some trips. Hopped in the truck and drove up to Al’s–one of my dad’s friends. I remember that he had a custom made tool for pulling wires. But he wasnt home. Dammit. I call my cousin Joey. He has no auto tools, but tells me to call his dad, about 30 miles away. I was hoping for something closer. I tried to remember the name of dad’s other friend who lived at the bottom of his street. And what house was it exactly–? I could knock on a few doors and narrow it down, right?
I decided to go look in my dad’s garage (my garage) for some tools. It’s only four blocks away. I think I made a total of 3 or 4 trips over there. I came back once with something that did indeed look like a spark plug wire pulling tool. I tried it.
It took the top half of the boot out very efficiently, leaving the bottom half still in place. It Taunted me. "Come and get me, come and get me." Bastard. The next several hours were spent on this boot, and this boot alone. I found some incredibly inefficient methods for removing it a piece at a time. I had Serena come out and give it a try as well. This was mostly to cover my butt: if she could see for herself how difficult it was, she may hold it against me less if we can’t get it fixed and end up leaving her car in my driveway. But I doubt it.
Eventually her boyfriend comes over. I"m hoping that he has smaller hands than me, but stronger than hers. Therein may lie the solution to this conundrum. HE and I try several things, allowing him to get up to speed on it, and then we get his hand stuck in the jaw and let him try for a while. Meanwhile, my cousin Joey calls me. Can I run up the street and give his sister–my cousin Barb–a hand moving something? Sure. I need to get out and get away from this mechanical hellbeast.
I’m dirty, greasy, sweaty. I’m going to be in pain tomorrow. My hands are hurt, cut up under the grease, and bruised. I drive up to my uncle’s house, about a block away, where my cousin Barb is. She’s cleaning the house, giving it final touches before it officially goes on the market. I helped her, and we chatted–I was in no hurry. Then I continued on around the block to see if Al was home yet. Nope. Shit.
But I get back home, and now it’s about 430. We’ve spent a long time on this damn boot. Serena and I took turns taking it off in frustratingly small pieces before Mark showed up and seemingly accomplished nothing. But after I left for a bit, they managed to get it off. Excellent.
My completely logical idea was this: Let’s just change the two, and not go after the bitch that the third one will most likely be. Mark wanted to tackle it. I gave him this caveat: Dude, I’m not responsible. Okay. He worked on that one while I changed the front three plugs. Still not even getting the boot off. However, he didn’t pull the wire out, so it was intact. Okay, break.
I convinced him that we should just let it go. Start it, make sure it runs and that he didn’t damage the wire in any way. Just…leave ‘er be. Quit while you’re ahead. Or not too far behind. I mean, honest to God, these are just the spark plug *WIRES*. It should not be that hard. It should not be this difficult. The fact that it was makes me doubt what little mechanical ability I have. I want to cut my losses (in my pride) and get the fuck out before I end up making her car undriveable and she has to leave it here, and then I get to hear about it at work all the next day. No fucking thanks.
He relents. We put it back together, it runs, we put the shit away. And never did put in the fuel filter. Someone’s going to find out about that. Serena was adamant about that part. Oh, well. I don’t have to hear it; I’m not fucking her.
So, here’s the part where I may be an asshole. Remember, I’m dirty and sweaty, et cetera. It’s now about 5 or 530 maybe. I want to take a shower. I want to take a shower NOW, and then relax in my shorts. With no guests around. But we hang out with our guests in the kitchen, chatting.
I made a few oblique, subtle references to their imminent departure, which fell on clueless ears. They wanted to hang out. And talk. Maybe this is what friends do? I don’t get it. I mean, they were already here all day. I’m tired of being around them. Not them in particular, just people. People who need people are the most pathetic people in the world. I want some alone time. Some me time. I want to sit around in my underwear. I want to eat dinner. Fuck.
So on they stay. It’s hard to say at this point what was worse: dealing with the boat or having guests that won’t leave. Was I trapped in a bad movie? The hell of it was, this is what I thought I wanted. I *thought* I wanted friends to come around and hang out. I thought I wanted to be social, and entertain. But, as it turns out, I really don’t like people.
My head starts to hurt, genuinely. I have a headache. I was standing in the kitchen, the other three were sitting. How did I get stuck with no chair? Who’d been doing all the work today? Finally, I abandon them, and went to the couch in the living room. I don’t feel like I exactly tossed Detroit to the wolves….
It might have seemed rude if I turned the tv on….so I turned the sound completely down. If they came in, I could turn it off.
They stayed and talked for a while longer, maybe another half hour, and then got up to leave about 730. Geez. *Finally.* I wasn’t faking it, though. I did have a headache. Whether from the houseguests or from not eating, I couldn’t say. All I know is, after they left, I took a shower and then we ate, and I felt better. I sat on my couch, in my shorts and nothing else, and finally–at long last–was able to relax.
So, you know–you can come over any time. We’re more than happy to have guests. But next time, I’m setting a timer.