Friday 10 June 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For!

I was raised by a licensed auto mechanic who could build a car from scratch. As I grew up, I lived, ate and breathed cars. Every family photo my Dad ever took was of my siblings and I in front of the family car. I could tell you what make of car Mr. Smith drove, what colour it was and even guess at the year it was made and usually be correct. In our house, we drove Fords only, my father being a Ford employee and a loyal man. My Dad had his winter beaters which were used cars that he drove through the slush and salt. He also had his new cars which he kept in the garage and only drove in the summer.

His first new car, a baby blue 1953 Ford Convertible, was the car that my parents took to California on their honeymoon. It sat in our garage most of the year and my Mom would only drive it once a year to take us to the dentist. We held our breath the whole ride there and back. I can remember my first fluoride treatment. My friend Brian across the street gave me a banana to eat right before I went to the clinic. I hated the taste of the fluoride and up the banana came, right in the dentist's chair. All I can recall thinking was: Thank goodness I didn't throw up in my Dad's convertible!

It was practical having a father who could fix his own car when it broke down. However, like the plumber whose house always has a leaky faucet, our house always had a car on blocks in the driveway. Sometimes I was recruited by my Dad to help with car repairs, even though I didn't inherit one iota of my father's mechanical ability. By the time I grew up, I'd had my fill of cars.

So, I vowed there and then to marry someone who had zero interest in automobiles. I was finished with car talk; I wanted nothing to do with it. Enter Rob Jonasson. As my father's friend Bill Chalmers said in his toast to the bride on our wedding day, when he first met Rob he pulled up in a Chrysler K-car with one headlight out. Enough said. Rob was not raised during the glory years of the automoblie. He could not have cared less how big the car's engine was or whether it had a nice hood ornament. Rather than parking a mile away to avoid door bangers, he would park in the closest spot to his destination. He had never washed a car; my Dad washed his car everyday. For Rob, an automobile was simply a means of getting from Point A to Point B.

For the daughter of a mechanic, Rob was my dream man!!! In the first years of our marriage, I reveled in the fact that I could park wherever I wanted to, regardless of door bashers. I didn't have to wash the car if I didn't want to. I could even eat in the car! And I didn't even have to buy a Ford, although we continued to do so. I enjoyed this freedom for a time. After several Fords, we did make the break and bought our first GM. And Rob ate his lunch everyday in the Cavalier on his long commute to work, evidenced by the crumbs littering the front seat. After a few years, my mother-in-law commented to my son about how our car didn't look very clean. My son responded with: "I know. That junky Kleenex box in the back is nine years old!" While my son had exaggerated since the car itself was only five years old, he had made his point.

Well, it's been 19 years since Rob and I got married. Everything in our house is breaking down. In the past four months we have replaced our dryer, television, computer and now our van. If Rob knew how to do simple repairs, we wouldn't have to pay the dealership so much to fix our cars. We also wouldn't be duped by shady garage owners. However, just as my Dad has talents that my husband lacks, my husband has his own set of skills. For instance, Rob is the son of an accountant and has inherited a gift for numbers, enabling him to complete our tax return every year in a calm manner. This was always a painful event in our household. I usually leave the banking to Rob as well. Yes, I am confident with my husband to deal with financial matters. But don't ask him to assemble a car, or even a barbecue: you'll end up with a hole in your brand new couch!

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