Two Words, Mani-Pedi. I guess that is one word hyphenated. Perhaps, I should say, Manicure-Pedicure. Had, I heard that complete phrase years ago, I could have saved a lot of confusion. For years, I thought a Mani-Pedi was a male pedicure.
For the 99.7% of men out there that are more masculine than me, you might still be confused. I will oblige you with more found wisdom. A Mani-Pedi is the meticulous primping of one’s finger and toenails. Why am I thinking of such things today? Because I have a semi-permanent layer of black grease under my fingers right now, and it is glorious!
Everything I touch turns black. Soaps dispensers, sinks, decorative towels. None of these things have a chance. I am rarely accused of being mechanically inclined. But, when I dare to take the plunge, I feel different. Particularly, I feel closer to my dad.
My dad could fix anything. I swear he would break things just to put them back together. Kitchen appliances, electric panels, plumbing systems, even relationships. I am sure my shrink would have something to say about that. But, in the end, he would find a way to fix what was broken.
Growing up, most weekends my dad would have a car torn apart in our driveway (Garages were for sissies! Or people with more money than us). Like the time I accidentally cut most my sisters tongue off. True Story. Sadly, my sister couldn’t keep a secret, and my dad couldn’t fix it. Thankfully, our neighbor had a vehicle intact and could bring us all to the hospital. Crisis and permanent lisp averted.
At 16, my first car spent more time being repaired than driven. I remember its engine hanging from a makeshift engine hoist. Suspended from an old oak tree in our backyard. It was weeks before my dad finally broke down and agreed I could buy another hunk of junk.
You might think I was a willing participant in all this mechanical mayhem. Rolling up my sleeves and gleefully participating alongside my dad. But, nothing could be further from the truth. If GLEE had been a show back then, I would have been hiding in my closet watching it. My extent of mechanical knowledge was watching the Dukes of Hazzard on Friday Nights.
I was intimidated by fixing cars. I would tackle the occasional small engine lawnmower, motorcycle or bicycle. But, ask me to do more than swap a battery, change a tire or perform an oil change, and I would run to the hills. Not being mechanical was a sign of weak masculinity in the parts where I was raised. I was actually reared in New England. But, “parts” sounds so much more John Ford and John Wayne and so much more masculine. Don’t ya think?
This fear was the reason I spent the majority of my life leasing cars. I was determined not to give up my weekends covered in grease, under a hood making repairs. Both out of wanting to get out on adventures, and also because of pure intimidation.
That was until about a year ago. It is also why this past weekend was so monumental. But, I am getting ahead of myself. I need to make a detour to explain myself.
In 2013 I road one of my dad’s motorcycles across the United States. Over two-month cross-country, off-road. Mid-trip I had to swap breaks in the middle of Moab, Utah. It was the single most manly thing I have ever and possibly will ever do.
Something changed in me that day. Sitting under the Utah sun, working on my motorcycle. Tourists were passing by in their fully functioning vehicles. Forget that I had ridden nearly 5,000 wooded solo miles to get here. I was changing breaks! I was ready for my man card.
When I arrived home, the motorcycle was in desperate needs of an overhaul. After the Utah experiences, and being that it was my dad’s, I felt obliged to try and repair it myself. I began the work in the winter of 2013. I completed it around the summer of 2016. Three years to do a 1-month job. But, I did it.
Well, sort of; my mechanical self-esteem was so low that I then paid a local shop to check all my work. Costing nearly the same in labor as if I had them do all the work for me. But, it was worth it. My confidence soared!
Jump ahead to 2018. This past weekend, my car presented me with an indicator light. The brake pads were in need of repair. A quick internet search showed such repairs could range from $200 – $800. I knew my car has disc brakes, not much different than a motorcycle. I decided to accept the challenge.
I watched three days’ worth of YouTube Videos. Ensured I had the proper tools. Then, re-watched all the videos again. Finally, I dipped in my toe, and “checked” the brakes. I figured I could still take the car somewhere if I got too intimidated. As I progressed it became clear to me, I could handle the job. But, first I re-watched the YouTube Videos again. Plus, several reruns of Craig Ferguson and a few cat videos to calm my nerves. Before I knew it, parts were off, and I was covered in grease.
It was then that my wife reminded me that I needed to take our daughter and her friends to her birthday party. I looked at the car. Jacked up with parts lying around it. This challenge was no severed tongue, but it was important. I mustered all my strength. Completed the repair. Tested the car and was off!
Ordinarily, I try to clean up before going out. Sweats are never an option. Not even the fancy ones that display juicy, across the derriere. But, today, fashion be damned! I was dirty. I was Greasy. I was Manly. I looked like a cowboy who had wrestled a bull and won. I was a mechanic!
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join like-minded individuals in The Good Men Project Premium Community.
The Good Men Project is an Amazon.com affiliate. If you shop via THIS LINK, we will get a small commission and you will be supporting our Mission while still getting the quality products you would have purchased, anyway! Thank you for your continued support!
Photo: Getty Images