It’s somehow gotten to be Fathers Day again. I’ve lost all track of time: can y’all believe that the whole craziness with the toilet paper was 3 months ago already? But here we are, one day past the first day of summer. Since it’s Fathers Day, I’m going to write some more about Dad.
One of the things about Papaw that rubbed off on Dad was the ability to build and fix stuff like a professional. I told y’all last year when I was writing about Papaw that he could have built you a house. Dad might not have been able to do that, but he could fix anything in the house that needed fixing. Growing up, although there were a couple plumbing emergencies that meant calling in someone (and probably getting ripped off), I think Dad took care of all the home repairs we ever needed. Dad was even great with electrical wiring. He wouldn’t let me mess around with it when I was young, but he did teach me some of the basics when I got older.
Dad could do more than just fix stuff, though. He could build stuff too. We collaborated on the awesome desk that’s still in my room at home as well as my trophy cases. I had two of those because we needed a bigger one once I started getting bigger trophies. Our little league trophies got bigger the bigger you got, and there was one seriously big league MVP trophy I got when I was 13 that wouldn’t fit in the case we built when I was 9. (Ok, Dad did most of the building on the first one, but he made sure I watched every step of the process so that the second one was built mostly by me.) Except for my college MVP trophy, which I have in my apartment here in California, all my high school and college trophies are still in those cases at home. I gotta admit that I have a lot of them, even a few for football and swimming…although the one thing Dad wouldn’t let me put in them were trophies for participation. If it goes in the case, he used to say, it’s because you earned it…and showing up for a spoon race doesn’t mean you earned it.
That story goes back to an elementary school picnic where fathers and sons or mothers and daughters did silly shit like spoon races. You hear about it more these days, but, already back then, they stopped paying attention to who won those lameass things and gave everyone a trophy for participation…so no one would feel bad. Dad never made any of us feel bad because we lost something – he had to cheer me up way more than once after we lost an important game – but he was very firm on the idea that trophies were for winners. He felt that, if you got a trophy for just showing up, trophies were going to be meaningless. He wanted them to give us a sense of achievement when we won one. And I think that all five of us won a trophy for something when we were growing up. I was the only one who needed a trophy case, but that’s because I was the jock in the family and the only one involved in competitive sports…which is how you get trophies as a kid.
(We had another rule about trophies growing up, and this one came form Mom: you dusted your own trophies lol. Actually you had to dust all the nicknacks you had in your room once a week. Mom said that, if you had to do that, you wouldn’t end up with a thousand nicknacks cluttering up your house when you grew up. It worked with me (although Joyce says I need more nicknacks and keeps giving me some), although not with Melanie Kate, who still collects a bazillion different things: Swarovski this, Barbie that, etc.. Once, Dad and me built Melanie Kate a shelf for some of her collectibles. That’s where I got the inspiration to build Joyce her crafting room.)
One thing Dad was determined that I learn to do was fixing the car. He said that most mechanics were rip-off artists and that the best way to protect yourself from them was to know how to fix the car yourself. (Although fixing the car was mostly a father/son thing, he still made sure to teach the girls how to change a tire, jump a battery and even change the oil. I don’t know how often they use those skills, but they’re all glad they have them. Even Melanie Kate, who married a man who has a truck customizing business so she’d never have to change a tire in her life lol.)
The way Dad taught me to work on the car was pretty cool: he bought us a piece of junk to work on. It wasn’t quite a salvage car, but it was close. It was a 1990 Ford Taurus that had seen way better days and had over 100,000 miles on it before Dad picked it up. You see in sitcoms sometimes how dads buy their kids totally beaten up cars and then make them restore them and then they have their first car. That’s not what Dad did with me. He and Mom had already decided that I was going to get a slightly used car for my 16th birthday, one that they knew was safe and not something that had been put together in the garage. So Dad brought the Taurus home one day when I was 14 and told me I was going to learn all about cars by….well…pretty much by reverse engineering.
We took everything apart and then put it back together again. Sometimes more than once. There’s practically nothing we didn’t do to that car. We even changed every lightbulb. Although we hammered out dents, the one thing we didn’t do was paint it, since that you really do have to leave to a professional. Once it was back from the paint shop, though, I got shown every imaginable aspect of detailing a car, which came in handy when I taught Lucas a few tricks of the trade early in his car wash career.
We took a long time over the car, which was great, since it meant I got to spend time with Dad. The neighbors complained about how the car looked parked outside the house when we first got it, but they were super surprised after it came back all painted and looking almost new. One of our neighbors across the street liked it so much that he offered to buy the car from us. Dad agreed, so the car didn’t disappear from my life. Our neighbor said it ran pretty well for another few years, which was pretty good for a car that was pretty much ready to be scrapped when we got it.
I felt a little bad seeing it get sold, but Dad promised me a better car when I turned 16: he didn’t want me in an old 90s car and did want me in something that would last me more than just a couple years. That said, we still reverse engineered some of the car he and Mom bought me so that I’d know how to fix it when the time came.
Even with everything Dad taught me about fixing cars, I gotta admit that I’m stumped by the Tesla. I’ve looked under the hood a few times, but I wouldn’t know where to begin if I had to fix something. (That’s one reason why Joyce doesn’t like it when I look under the hood.) If your idea of working on a car is getting dirt under your fingernails from dismantling a carburetor, an all electric car is gonna stump you. So I’m afraid I can’t show off my mechanics’ skills to my girlfriend. At least not until we get a flat tire. That I know I can fix faster than it takes the AAA guy to show up lol.
I wasn’t sure what to get for Dad for Fathers Day this year, and I’m clearly on a super tight budget. He let all of us know that he didn’t expect anything from us, but, well, I don’t know about my sisters, but I’m not going to let Fathers Day go by without buying him some kind of a present. (I didn’t write about Mothers Day…but we all chipped in – even Elizabeth was in on this one – and got her a big flower arrangement. Mom loves flowers, so you can never go wrong with those.) So I looked around on Amazon (I didn’t want to break quarantine and go to Home Depot just for a Fathers Day present) and found something that I think looks really cool…and cost less than 20 bucks:
It’s a magnetic cuff that you put around your wrist and it can hold nails or drill bits or whatever other metal stuff you need to hold when you’re doing a project or fixing something. The magnets are apparently super strong (if the picture is to be trusted): they even show it holding a medium sized wrench. Dad’s told me that he’s wished he had a third hand when he’s working on stuff, now that he no longer has me to say “hold this” or “hold that” to. It won’t exactly be like having me back as his shop assistant, but at least it should be something useful.
I think he’s gonna like it (it’d be totally lameass buying someone a present you don’t think they’re gonna like), and I got a real nice card to go with it.
So Happy Father’s Day, Dad.