Into the tire shop, then, to pick up his car with its freshly rotated tires. He waits in the showroom, surrounded by hundreds of gleaming black tires hanging from the walls or poised in garish cardboard floor displays.
The place has one overpowering vibe: the singular reek of rubber gone mad. His eyes begin to glaze over. Boredom, thy name is Hankook Dyna Pro.
To be sure, there are those who rank tires just below (1) sex and (2) sex with tires. But this guy, he’s never been a car man: engines, cylinders, brake pads, four-on-the-floor, cup holders, valves, six lords a leapin’, plugs, glove compartment injectors, mud flaps. Couldn’t tell a tapit rod from a pretzel rod.
No, he is here at the tire-slash-repair shop for one reason: Adam and Eve blew it in the Garden of Eden.
To pay for their sin, everyone must spend Xteen hours/days/weeks in auto shops with a waiting-room TV permanently tuned to Fox news and a customer of questionable thinkity and smellity endlessly reciting an epic pome about the golden-haired Don Donaldo de la Casa Blanca.
The maître du garage, a man with Robespierre embroidered in red on a white patch just under his laughably over-penned pocket protector, enters from the repair shop.
“We must parlez-vous,” says M. Robespierre, “about your rear end.”
A number of WTF thoughts tumble invisibly from the folds of the customer’s gray cells onto the floor of his hippocampus. Fortunately, the hippo is off campus today on a job interview.
“My rear end?”
“Oui,” says the wrench monger (say moan-GARE). “Ze differential.”
He’s been dreading this day of heavenly retribution for years, ever since he lied in the confessional to Father “Holy Moley” Foley about missing his nightly prayers three times instead of the square of the hypotenuse times eleven.
How he wishes that, like other men, he could have an intelligent conversation with a mechanic about his differential.
But instead of drawing on a lifelong, free-will fascination with tires, motors, hoses and dual carbs, he recalls only the memorized-at-yardstick-point screed of an escaped warg rider disguised as a nun: do good (fat chance, bozo); avoid evil (fatter chance); have no fear (just kidding); feel no guilt (don’t make me laugh); have no fun (now we’re talking); I’m watching you (don’t try to hide behind that cardboard Michelin tire man).
His job, his hobby, his eau de cologne as a youth was all about toeing the line of righteousness and praying nightly against wrongteousness. Put another way, his life was ruled by the rigid duality of peanut butter v. jelly. To even hint at a curiosity about, say, cream cheese and jelly would trigger a visit from the Spanish Inquisition.
Ze moan-GARE begins talking about his customer’s differential. “Ze main symptom of ze bad rear end is ze noise. Ze noise in ze rear end is never ze good sign.”
While our man does wonder about the monstrously fake French-Spanish accent of ZmG, he decides getting an explanation might be more complicated than ze differential.
The Robester begins speaking in tongues, using words like clanking, clunking, clinking, clucking, clapper-clawing clod-hopping, Clytemnestra, and Cleveland, painting the picture of a missing gear tooth on, near or just very close friends with the pinion, (pronounced peen-yohn).
“If ze problem is on ze peen-yohn…” he begins, thrusting both arms upward like the pope waiting to catch a holy watermelon from on high…His voice drifts away, allowing time for his customer’s imagination and large-fruit paranoia to fill in ze blanks.
A problem on the pinion. The damned pinion. Whatever the hell that is.
Silently, he curses Adam. Then he curses Eve. He curses his Time-Life Book-of-the-Month Club guide to understanding the family automobile, still encased in its bolo-knife-proof, unopenable, Lubyanka-grade shrink-wrap from 1974.
“Look,” he says, knowing deep down that it is he who is morally responsible for his rear end, just as any man is responsible at the End of Days (of Our Lives) for the differential between heaven and hell. “How do I know if my problem is on the pinion?”
“Ho, ho, honh,” ze moan-GARE chuckles frenchly. “ze problaim, she is always on ze peen-yohn.”
Bottom line, the customer knows the differential is a tangible thing and not some moral abstraction. But he also admits to himself that tangling with a tangible rear-end can only lead to a most dangerous dalliance with fromage a la creme.
His only recourse is to send an urgent text to Madame X, known in the rear-end community as ze dame avec une grande hatpeen-yohn. When it comes to her rear end — so very tangible, but don’t distract her — she never takes la merde from ze moan-GARE.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2018, all rights reserved.