Monday, June 16, 1997

Just Like Your Dad Did

Home Improvement Tip: For extra clean dishes and silverware, try drying them in the microwave after you thoroughly wash them. Zap them for one minute or two and be reassured they will come clean germ free. With the rising cost of dishwashers and the declining cost of microwaves, plus the growing fear of bacterial invasions, a few minutes in the microwave will wash away your fears. Sure the sparks may fly but isn't a little exposure to radiation worth the peace of mind from germ free spoons and forks?

Despite the appearance that may be given by my impressive steroid enhanced frame, I'm not exactly the most mechanically inclined person that has ever graced this planet. Those little home improvement repairs that I used to take for granted when I lived in an apartment now rest squarely on my massive shoulders as a homeowner. And I ain't exactly the greatest or most effective at carrying out those assignments. But they are nothing when compared to when it comes to fixing my car. I figure things are fine as long as my car continues to move forward. If placed under gun point, I probably couldn't distinguish between a carburetor and an air hose.

My education in mechanical skills is rather limited. Back in eighth grade industrial arts class we were required to take apart and put back together a small V-8 engine. My partner and I had no problem tearing that sucker apart. The problem came in the reassembly portion of the event and when all was said and done neither one of us knew exactly what to do with the two or three spare parts we had leftover. We tried starting the engine with our version of assembly and it didn't so much as sputter. Rereading some of our instructions we gapped the spark plugs and through a miracle of the heavens the engine actually started up. It was much louder than it originally had been and it shook the table frightfully as we tried our best to hide the clouds of smoke that came billowing out of it, but damn they had told us the engine only needed to be running in order for us to pass the class, they hadn't said it needed to be running well.

That I have been able to get this far in life with mostly minor car repair bills is a tribute to my father. Dad knows enough to be a source of information patiently answering what he must consider to be my rather naive and sometimes troubling ignorant automotive questions. Together with the assistance of Dad's mechanic, I get by with what little knowledge I retain. Checking the oil and tire pressure and adding gas are the only duties I have learned to handle over the years.

I am constantly impressed at how difficult it must be to be a good father. I certainly can admit that I am nowhere near being ready to assume fathering responsibilities. If my son was to come to me with a plumbing problem I'd be as likely to suggest a good urologist as I would a hardware store. And being knowledgeable enough to fix problems is only a small part of a father's repertoire. Being a good dad requires such an eclectic bag of tricks, everything from knowing what lures to use in fishing, to being able to grill successfully without resorting to gasoline to start the charcoal burning.

To be able to live up to your father's good name is of course the challenge of any good son. And when the bar is set as high as what my Dad has achieved one can only hope that somewhere the knowledge and skills were genetically passed down. Landscaping, bill paying, oil changing, gutter cleaning, room painting, country music loving, Indy stock car knowing, bowler extraordinaire, yes Dad can do a little bit of it all. And when I think that I don't even know enough not to wear blue dress socks with black dress shoes, how scary is the notion that there is a possibility that some day some little pair of eyes will look upon me and be calling me daddy? Egads.

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