Tuesday, June 21, 2011

“How did you get into cars?”

Someone asked me the other day how I got into cars. Hmmm, I thought. I guess it was because of The X.

When I was born, my Dad was driving a 70 something Mustang and my Mom was driving a 70 something Dodge Dart. My dad was not into working on cars. He did basic things if necessary, but never was what I would consider a "car guy". Mom? Ha. She can't figure out how to move the seats back and forth, let alone know anything about working on a car. Rocker arm? Isn’t that what my rocking chair has?  Oh, brother!

I remember playing with Hot Wheels as a kid, imagining I was the stunt driver driving the cool 18-wheeler on it's side around a corner that would have never actually been possible. Or the girl driving the bright yellow Ferrari. I wanted to be Bo Duke driving a '69 Charger through the streets of my town. (Imagine my surprise when I heard that one of my friends, the one that just had twins, got a '69 Charger.)

During my preteen and early teen years, my parents used to take LZ and I to the local 1/4 mile circle track on Friday nights. We used to cheer for Ron Hornaday. Yes, THE Ron Hornaday. I remember the night they announced he wouldn't be returning because he was moving to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. When the Northridge earthquake happened in '94, they deemed the stands at the track not safe, and no more racing has taken place there since. My interest in cars died.

During high school, I dated a guy that drove a '65 Mustang, but he wasn't a "car guy". He just thought it was a cool car so he bought it. I can remember ditching school to go surfing. Car looked sexy with surfboards on top.

When I met The X in '98, he was a college student paying his way through school by working on cars. I used to hang out with him at the shop, and as miserable as it was in the South Texas humidity, I loved every minute of it. I'd finally found my “car guy". After nine years, and lots of car stories later, our divorce was started and I'd lost my car guy.

By this time, I was heavily into NASCAR, which is something The X never seemed to be thrilled about. No matter how much I tried, I think he just didn't get it. He didn't understand that there was actual strategy to what they do. He didn't understand that it's not just a bunch of guys going in circles. Okay, it's a little bit about guys going around in circles, but still. It's more than that. Truth be told, I think he just didn't like it because it interrupted his football games.  Boo hoo.

When I met JK, he was a high school auto shop teacher. As I did with The X, I'd spent countless hours just hanging out with him at the shop. Maybe it was the atmosphere, maybe it was the company. Maybe it was the smell of gasoline, oil, and Brake Kleen that kept me there. It didn't matter. I lived an hour and a half away, and no matter how late it got, I didn't care. I just wanted to be there, where the cars were, where all the magic was happening.

Today, I don't have either The X or JK to hang out with while they work on cars. Actually, neither of them work on cars anymore anyway, so probably no loss there. However, it is the fond memories of laying under the car with aching arms as I tighten bolts, and standing under a car on a lift not expecting anything to drip from underneath, only to be covered in transmission fluid seconds later, that make me smile and wonder where my next “car guy” is.

Now where's that AAA guy I was flirting with a few weeks back?

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