Signs Your Dad is an Aging Cajun

I was halfway through my launch sequence–destination Boro Highway at Mach 25 mph– when I realized that the act of moving my gearshift into “Drive” was like drinking a McMilkshake, which is akin to moving a rock-solid block of Purity chocolate swirl through a flimsy river reed with, well, your aching lung.

The gearshift thingy would barely budge. Ergo, I said to myself, “Self, it is time for transmission fluid.”

Still in an early morning fog– I keep artist’s hours, so 11 am is the crack of dawn–I set a course for the nearest Advance Auto Parts and sashayed in forthwith to procure the suburban subcompact goods.

Normally, when I sashay into Advance, it is an Event. Unshaven, half-shirtless, testosterone-laden beings immediately register a female presence on their Guydar, and tend to forget all about the comedobridgulators for the ’82 Lemon they’re planning to fix by fiscal 2017, and, well, gape at me as if their brains were just removed. Afterward, there is a stampede, the result of which is every hetero male hemming and hawing over my Pontiac as if it’s a mint ’65 Shelby Cobra. But I digress.

My Dad, the incomparable Cherokee/Cajun known as Doc, informs me that said scenario is unquestionably to my advantage. “Well,” he advises me over his famous weak coffee, “go in there, and bat your big green eyes, and play dumb when you need somethin. Might even get discounts.”

Normally, this works like a charm. But on this particular day it sputtered and died. And why? Because on this crisp Autumn morning, Advance was staffed with Females Who Are So Over It.

“Whaddaya want?” they said, in unison, with a businesslike glare, hands on hips.

“Power steering fluid.” I croaked, sounding terrifically stupid, not to mention asking for the WRONG item.

“That’ll be $4.29.” I paid, and left, cursing myself the whole way home for buying the wrong thing. Whilst all I had to do was march my bad self back to the store and munch a little crow en route, then admit I’d bought the incorrect form of viscous fluid, I just couldn’t do it.

For one thing, I’d charged it to Mom’s card.

Once I got home, up went the car’s hood, and I, of course, stood there like the confused-looking, lace-wearing uber-chick I am.

I was lost. I was dazed. I was in need of a phone call to Doc for fatherly advice. If you’ve read any of my stories, you know this is where it gets interesting.

Doc: Yeah, honey?
T: Hey, um, where do I put transmission fluid?
Doc: What?
T: Transmission fluid. I’ve got the hood up. Where in all of these gidgee-gadgets do it go?

At this, Doc goes quiet for a long moment. It’s not that he doesn’t know, it’s that he doesn’t want to let on that I’ve just asked what he’s pretty sure is the world’s stupidest question.

Doc: Well, honey, it goes in the dipstick tube that says t-r-a-n-s-m-i… uh, “shun.”
T: What? You mean it’s marked?!
Doc: Does it work?! Of course it works! I wouldn’t tell you to do nothing that ain’t gonna work.
T: NO DAD, I MEAN IT’S MARKED?
Doc: Well yeah, honey it’s mar… Dang, Dale! Whoa there!
T: What?
Doc: Dale’s out here helpin me build the tornada shelter. Dang! Don’t drive off the cliff! Dale!
T: Well, that’s good.
Doc: Yeah, but I think that redneck’s out here commitin’ suicide? Dang. Dale! Watch it!
T: What’s he doing?
Doc: Drivin’ a tractor. Dale!

Because, you know, zooming all over my parents’ rock-laden property on a tractor= laying bricks on a storm shelter. Duh, Teri.

T: One more question, Dad.
Doc: Well, okay.
T: Power steering fluid and transmission fluid are the same thing, right?
Doc: Well, yeah, pretty much. Wait. Why do you have power steering fluid?
T: Uh…. I was putting some in…. the uh, car.

Brilliant, Captain Obvious.

Doc: Well, why though? Cain’t you turn the dang steering wheel?
T: (lying through my teeth) It was… a little sticky. It’s fine now.
Doc: Okay, honey. Well I’m glad you got to talk to me.
T: Bye, love you, Dad.

After this enlightening conversation, I opened the hood and yanked on the dipstick. Then I read and carefully ignored the directions on the power steering fluid: Do not, under any circumstances, use this on your transmission. Yes, you. We mean it, Moron!

After pouring it in, the transmission worked great… and so did the steering.

Well dang, I am my father’s daughter.

Until next time,
T

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