Sunday, January 20, 2008

Born Without The Car-Buying Gene......

I’m all for fair play for women; equal pay for equal work; no doors closed due to gender; be all that you can be, and so on. If a woman wants to be a linebacker on a football team, and can hold her own with the gorillas, I’ll be the first to step out of her way. If she has a scientific bent and wants to find a cure for cancer, I’ll be her most enthusiastic supporter. If she wants to lead a group of like minded lunatics into the jungle to do research on the tse-tse fly, I’ll shake my head in awe, and wish her god-speed. As long as it is understood that I have no interest in being a football player; interest in, but no talent for, scientific research; and a marked dislike of sticky, jungley, creepy-crawly infested places.

Even though I sometimes felt trapped raising five children,I liked being at home with them, wiping their noses, soothing their fears, patching up their skinned knees, assuring them that everything would turn out right in the end. I admired women who did all this AND held down a job, but was glad not to have to join them.

You may have surmised, from recent morose comments on these pages, that our youngest, our six-foot-four-pride-and-joy, had an altercation with a slick road surface and a wet pond from which, by some miracle we are very grateful for, he emerged unscathed. Not so his car, which was traveling with him at the time. Totalled, I believe, is the word. Horrified, the feeling.

Since we live in the outer fringes of the Back of Beyond, where distances are long and public transportation non existent, a car is a necessity. So, since before Christmas, I’ve been sharing my car with the Boy, which gets problematical when you consider that we try not to share news of such altercations with the Ancient Ones. For a while there was no problem. The OC was home, and we had a rental.

But, “life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.” The OC returned to the frozen north. The Bean’s classes resumed. Suddenly I was car-less at the time I would normally be going for “the daily visit”. Subterfuge, skullduggery, incoherent mumbling---just some of the strategies shamelessly employed to keep them in the dark. They may be old, they may be hard of hearing, but stupid they are not. Before they smelled a rat, we needed to shop around for a car.

And by “we” I mean the Boy and I. A clear case of the blind leading the more blind.

A golfing friend,in the know about cars, was contacted. Last weekend we drove an hour north to meet him and see some vehicles he had selected as possible candidates.

The Bean circled them, rubbed his chin, looked dubious, while I stewed in a paroxysm of embarrassment because he wasn't looking happier after the golfing friend had gone to so much trouble. He test drove a few. Looked even less happy, and eventually we took our leave, empty handed. Just as well as it turned out.

The OC researched from afar and located two more likely vehicles. Contact was made, appointments set up and I couldn’t sleep a wink all night.

What did I know about buying a vehicle?

How would I know they weren’t selling us a tin can in fancy dress?

Where would I run to if they started talking about transmissions, or timing belts, rotors or worse?

And how would we accomplish the ”pre-purchase appraisal by a trusted mechanic” when both cars were located far from any mechanic we knew, trusted or otherwise?

How would we manage the money end of the operation? Would we carry wads of bills in a pillowcase tossed in the back seat of my car? Or a briefcase, gangster-style? Or get a cashier’s check from the bank? The logistics kept nagging at me, since both cars were at least an hour away in different directions…..

And where was the OC when his physical presence and expertise was desperately needed??

It didn’t help to pose these questions to the OC on the phone. Because, and herein lies one of the biggest differences 'tween he and me, he was born WITH the car-buying gene. Men born with the car-buying gene consider such questions trivial, nay, assinine, because this knowledge is supposed to be wired into one from birth. So their voices go up a notch and they have a tendency to yell. And when the yelling starts the Mollybrain, poor carbuyinggene-less organ that it is, shuts down and goes to vision only. Blurred vision at that. The mental channels get clogged, and clarity of thought, if it was ever there, goes right out the window.

Ask me about quilting. There’s a good chance I’ll know the answer off the top of my head, and if I don’t, I’ll know how to find out.
Ask me to organize a dinner party for twelve for tomorrow night…….
Ask me about baking bread……
Ask me about grammar… several languages....
Ask me about knitting…actually, ask Liz about knitting…….
Ask me about books…….
About geography…..
About politics in the outer Hebrides….
About my opinion of the Current Occupant…….
About the mating habits of Laplanders……

Just don’t ask me anything about cars….……

Turns out, to my relief, it didn’t matter, this genetic short-fall of mine, because the Bean, being his father’s son, may also have been born with the gene in question. It’s just never been put to the test before. He asked questions; he peered, with an air of knowing what he was about, under hoods and into innards; he test drove, and consulted with the OC by phone……

We met no sellers of fancy tin cans, but two decent fellows trying to sell their cars for a fair price. The Bean liked the first one a lot, but the second one better. Which worked out well, as the OC had surmised, from his research-from-afar, that the second was likely the better deal.

We even randomly picked a garage, and had them give it the once over. As the mechanic poked and prodded, I peered in at all those belts and batteries and pistons and spark plugs, and wished, for the thousandth time, the OC was with us.

“How much is he asking?” the mechanic whispered to me conspiratorially. The car’s owner was standing outside talking to the Bean, and I had wandered over.

“Buy it!” he said, when I told him.

And that is how it came to pass that

I got MY car back, and

The Bean once again has wheels of his own, [he keeps disappearing outside to pet them,] and a very empty savings account!

And all without me having the car-buying gene!

If you’d like my autograph, let me know. I’ll see what I can do.

You may also want the OC's autograph since he managed to convince me we could do this without him. No mean feat. And he really reined in his frustration with all the annoying questions. Maybe I've been more successful than I thought, and he's starting to think more like a woman....On second thoughts, as he would say himself "I wouldn't bet my hat, ass and overcoat on that!"

And now, if all you high achieving, mechanically accomplished women will excuse me, I have some cookies to bake.


Jess said...

Hats off to you!

Car-buying puts me in a lather myself.

riseoutofme said...

Rest assured Molly ...

Most men do NOT have the "sock finding gene" .... Why, you might well ask???

That is because it is located in the uterus.

From this we must surmise that the "car buying gene" is located in the scrotum.


Stomper Girl said...

Molly, Molly, Molly. You don't need a *gene*!! All you need to know for car buying is a couple of things:

1. Does it have working heating / air-conditioning?
2. Does it have power steering?
3. Does it have a cd player / stereo?
4. What colour is it?

Pam said...

Yes, yes, I'm with you. I take our car to get serviced and the man says to me, "What's the engine capacity?"


I know the colour. Isn't that enough?

molly said...

Days.....So comforting to know there's a sisterhood of like -minded women out there!

Rise.....Have you considered taking your comedy show on the road?

Stomper.....Ah yes. But somewhere in the process there needs be someone who actually understands and can evaluate the parts that make the bloody thing go....

Isabelle.....We didn't have much choice in the colour, but fortunately it is a very pleasing dark green!

Ali Honey said...

I think you did well! So there.

If you don't know it isn't a sin. Ask or get help or advice or a mechanic.

Going around kicking tyres proves nothing anyway.

I think Stomper Girl is right - those are things important -and - men have got to have something they appear to know more about!

( I like your genes better! ) than us!

Unknown said...

Oh Molly,. I have the car gene. My husband.. lacks the car gene. He arrived in my life with a bomb. He bought a lemon. He drove it into the ground quickly discovering both the mechanic and I were right..LOL and then when my car was written off right before our wedding talked me into a lemon replacement. I claim head injuries...(on both the vows and the car). I sold i and bought a great car, and recent sold it for another one. The new car salesman was stoked to see my husband and child going home for a nap and me staying there. Well he was. LOL 5.5 hours later. I was done. I saved $8500 and the salesman apologies for naturally assuming i would be easy..LOL it is a thing you get or you dont I think!

Birdydownunder said...

well done Molly and the Bean. Of course with a little help from distant OC.

Tanya Brown said...

Merciful heavens, you've lived through one of my worst nightmares! I had the same car for twenty years just to avoid the agony of buying a new one.

You did well, though, and lived to tell a mighty fine tale.

meggie said...

What a great post!!

Love Rise's explantation about it all!!

Currently lending out our vehicle, due to our car-buying-gene-less SIL's choice for Daughter,, let me just say, some men dont seem to have that gene. Does this mean he has no scrotum, Rise?

Thimbleanna said...

You forgot the...ask me to write something. What a great, fun read -- you're a writer, you are!

Lindi said...

Molly, that livened up my morning!
Fortunately, I have a great mechanic who is also reasonable and worth all my trust. I lean on him for car advice, mechanically. DH knows a fair bit, but he relies on the mechanics opinion too.
My role is to check the other important things, like glove box capacity, cup holders, comfort, looks, lights on warning sound if you open the door, and an inability to lock the keys in! The last 2 are essential! How do I know? LOL

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Good job, Molly! No one could have done better.

And that is one mighty impressive list of accomplishments your genes have racked up. Buying a car is child's play compared to most of them.

Isn't it wonderful to have your own wheels back?

fifi said...

I have neither the car OR the cookie gene, which I guess makes me a complete failure as a person.

Engine capacity?? I dont even know my own registration number!

Princess Banter said...

Truly, you're right. Being a mother is a full time job in itself already -- I don't know how some actually can take the time to hold down another job. Goes to show how truly great women are :) Heehee!

Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

My first visit and i feel as though you wrote this post just for me. Thank you.
When my car died, I had to buy a new car to avoid having to ask all the questions and check all the things that need to be checked when buying a used car because not a car buying gene in sight! I will NEVER have to buy another car again--I will never be able to afford to buy another car again!
Had the joy of being a stay-at-home mother for eighteen years. Always wondered how other women could fit in work (outside the home) too. I will be finding out first hand soon. Over the top excitement and terror!
Your list of genes is long and impressive, and generally, much more useful than the car buying one.