Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Grease Monkey

So was one of those days. Those days when you just stop and go "Seriously?" Apaprently when I mentioned my toilet plunging prowess someone out there was laughing at me, saying "Oh, you think you're good? Just wait, we'll see how good you are!"

On the way to visit some friends and hit the pool this morning, we headed outside to find that Mara's van was dead. 

Now, this is a regular occurrence for both of us...we are cursed when it comes to cars. 


Of course, Tommy was gone at a Christ In Youth conference, and we really wanted to go swimming. So I dug out the jumper cables and Mara and I stared studiously at the batteries in our respective vehicles and I hoped I wouldn't run out of gas (also a regular occurrence for me) while I was juicing up Mara's van. After some telephonic advice, we made it happen and we were off on our merry way to the gas station. 

Of course, then we got lost four times on the way to our friend's new house, which is on a new road that neither one of our navigation systems recognized. How did I live before GPS? I didn't, actually...I was lost all the time. I was late all the time, and I could never find my way anywhere. I did not live before my GPS came into my life.  The joy is not in the journey, folks. At least not when you're lost all the time.

But we finally made it and we proceeded to spend all day hanging out...ten kids, Mara, Monique, and I, and we had a blast swimming, racing, turning somersaults, seeing how long we could hold our breath,  eating pizza, and admiring her new and lovely home. I was only a little bit green with envy, but Monique is just so sweet I couldn't stay jealous...she totally deserves a beautiful home like that. Especially if I can hang out there all the time. Kidding. OK, not really. Monique, can I come live in that fancy little closet in your play room? 

About 4:45 we headed out. I was in a rush leaving because it was John's night to visit the kids and I was sure he was en route to the house. The whole street we were on was new construction, so I don't know if I drove over some debris or what, but suddenly, out of the blue,  I was driving on a very deflated tire. Like, completely deflated. Rattly, driving on the rim, there is no salvaging this deflated. I made it around the corner and Mara pulled up behind me and we stared at the tire in dismay for a second, wondering maybe if we drove to Universal real quick and got a wand from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter we'd be able to fix this mess. Then I got real and called John. 

"Um, we're going to be late...I just got a flat tire."

He was not thrilled...flat tires, along with running out of gas and dead batteries, are kind of par for the course for me. Cursed, remember? But he listened to where we were and said he'd be there soon. 

After about five minutes of staring at the pavement and yelling at all the kids to stay in the cars, I shot Mara a look.

"What?" She asked, already onto the fact that I was probably up to no good.

"I wonder if I could get the jack started for him. I mean, I've seen him and Tommy change enough tires...who needs instruction? I'll just try it."

Mara looked skeptical but also a little excited. If I bombed, she'd be able to laugh at me for years, and if I managed it, she'd be able to say she was part of it. "Okay, but where's the camera? I'm documenting this."

It started out okay. I found the right tools and managed to hook them all up correctly. Or mostly worked, regardless. 

Excuse my scrubbalicious attire. I had been swimming all day and threw on the cover up to drive home. I didn't realize I would be flashing everyone in the street changing a tire. As soon as I thought about changing the tire, all the dirt and oil in the general area flew onto me and made me look like a genuine grease monkey.


After a stupid mistake and a redo, I managed to get the car jacked up. John still wasn't there, so I started trying to get the lug nut thingies off. It was a no go...I wasn't strong enough to loosen them. Then I had a bright idea. Mara was merrily tossing everything from the floor of the van to the back so that we could access the spare tire, and I called to her. "Hey! You've GOT to see my system, dude!"


It worked.  Climbing on top of the tire iron and jumping up and down until it loosened the lug nut (or whatever that piece is) totally worked. And I have to to admit it was actually pretty fun. I did get some odd looks from passing cars, though. One drove by twice, the driver shaking his head. I think he wanted to stop but he thought perhaps he was being punk'd. 

After a rather comical wrestling match between me, Mara, and the spare tire that was stored in a teeny tine chamber below the floor of the van, it was all over. I threw that bad boy on and lug nutted it up. 


Of course just as I tightened the final bolt, John pulled up and stared at the van disbelievingly. 

"You've got to be kidding me!" He said, shaking his head. 

I don't know if he was more shocked that I changed the tire myself or annoyed that he'd driven all the way there to make sure the lug nuts were tight. As he checked out my handiwork, he asked Mara if she knew how to change a tire. 

"No!" She replied. "I'm just here to watch and throw out a woot woot when Ellyn does something cool. Woot Woot!" 

And from inside the van I heard a five year old voice yell out "Yeah Mama! Woot Woot!"

So now I can add mechanic to my resume, right? 

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