Thursday, June 01, 2006

A blow to the male ego

My headlight bulb went out a few days ago. Determined to do this repair myself, I bought the bulb from an auto parts store and popped the hood. Of course, the headlight outage had to be on the left side, which you have to remove the battery, which was caked with cotton candy blue corrosion. I also saw one of the screws that was securing the battery had a few nice shades of rust on it. It was 90 degrees outside, adding to the intimidation when I popped the hood. I scanned the Corolla for any leaks, the dreaded cracked head - nothing. So I started to remove the battery, but the bolt to the rusted screw was practically fused.

I toyed with the other headlight, trying to at least GET the rhythm of replacing the headlight. The bulb was stubbornly embedded. I started to go through the scenarios... what if I break the plastic holding trying to get this damn bulb out?

The guys at Car Talk joke that newer cars have done huge damage to the male ego because even the most rudimentary maintenance requires a mechanic to perform. As a guy, it was hell, closing the hood and resorting to going in at a mechanic shop the next day. Going to a mechanic shop to get a friggin' battery replaced is like painting a red target on you. The grime-coated lions at the mechanic place must see me as a gazelle. Change the battery and come out and say that there's something wrong with the oil pan distributor cap going in to the radiator fluid and I'll need a new set of hoses to solve that problem. That'll be $300.

I remained cool. I said I just needed a bulb. I was going to work on the battery corrosion this weekend. I already bought the part. And thankfully, in 20 minutes, I had a bill of $18.

Being raised by a mother and an older sister, I spent more time in fabric stores and trying to avoid fabric stores by playing video games than under the hood of a car or helping someone install a light fixture. As my mom gets older and she demands more and more from my sister and myself, she bemoans "You're a guy, you're supposed to know this!" when I tell her I can't do siding to the rotted side of her garage. As if your genes are automatically wired to tasks like changing oil, laying drywall and installing a ceiling fan.


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