I haven’t had much time for truck mechanics lately….my son was visiting for a few weeks, and he doesn’t think much about my adventures trying to fix Prince Hopalong.
“When are you gonna junk that thing?” he says.
Somehow, just one guy saying one thing about my stupid attempts to fix trucks can really take the wind out of my sails. Even if it’s my son. I know he doesn’t mean to discourage me- he’s just trying to help me be practical. To act like a mom. An adult. He’s right. I shouldn’t fall in love with crazy outlaw trucks.
Plus, it’s hard to have time to hang on to seemingly unsolvable mechanical problems, due to the arrival of Jason. I got a new boyfriend, who cooks like a professional, so I come in and eat dinner at night. He also likes spending time with me, and being together. So I am being lured into enjoying life, instead of being out in the shop working on trucks all hours and living on Ezekiel bread toast. I am being invited to move on into the world of living, breathing human beings who spend time together snuggled up on the couch watching movies. He’s rather indulgent of my need to fix old broken trucks, but, I smell like motor oil and diesel, not roses and lavender. Oh, and horse manure. And I always track in hay.
AND, to add to my lack of time to work on my trucks, I got laid off from my job, so I’m teaching a lot of Pilates and doing all this freelance marketing stuff on my computer, trying to hold it down. I’m having to hustle. A lot.
As a result, Prince Hopalong has been languishing- the windshield still not fixed, because I can’t get him to the glass place to get the windshield replaced. It’s a sorry excuse, I know. Which is why I was lying in bed with a sleeping Jason Saturday morning, and somehow found my resolve to leap up and crusade forward, back into my world of grease and busted knuckles. I just can’t give up. I can’t. I have to get Prince Hopalong to the glass place so he can get a new windshield.
See, I had comprehensive insurance when Lawrence hit the turkey, thereby shattering the windshield. WHY would I have comprehensive insurance on a 1987 F-250 that you have to carry a fire extinguisher around in because at any moment, it might burst into flames? Well, THAT’S why, homey. I was always ready for Hopalong to burst into flames. I figured it was worth the extra 10 a month to maybe get 500-1000 back for another truck.
So, small miracle, when Lawrence called me in November to inform me that he’d hit a turkey, the windshield of Prince Hopalong was shattered, and he and was now bolting for California, the windshield was covered. So, there I was, blasting through New York State on my way to Maine in a state of incomprehensible pissed off female disbelief at the fact that my boyfriend was splitting, and the only productive way to deal with the situation was to call Geico. Five minutes can save you….ummm….what do they say on that ad?
But now here we are, it’s now almost March. It’s been four months. The windshield place keeps calling. But I can’t get a new windshield in Prince Hopalong if I can’t get him started to get to the glass place.
And now here I am, sitting in Lawrence’s cabin. He’s back from California. He wanted to talk. He wanted his elk antler back. He was blowing up my phone- that is, until he turned off the service, ostensibly to save money. So I turned up at the cabin. To try to make peace. To try to get him to stop flipping out at me. To try to move on.
“WHY didn’t you just charge up the batteries, spray some ether in the air filter, and start up with the PLIERS,” he is now fuming, in between bites. He’s eating one of the carrot muffins I brought him. I know if I just wait it out, he will calm down. He loves my muffins and cookies. And pies.
Before I left for Maine, I baked him a few pumpkin pies and put them in the freezer. He was so happy. He said, “I’m gonna stay right here and eat one slice of pie a day. I’ll be right here, eating this pie.” And then he goes to California. And I don’t hear from him for two months.
“So why did you just suddenly go to California, and I don’t even hear from you for two months, you don’t even call to see how I am?”
“You knew where I was, you could have called,” he snaps.
Well, I did call. That’s the thing.
This is the second time he’s gone to California like this. The first time, I figured it was curtains for us, but, then he calls me and worms his way back into my heart. Both times, he was supposed to be getting his F-350 flatbed, but, both times, it didn’t work out. I don’t know why, it’s tied up in probate or something, some inheritance deal. So what does he do, he drives back from California in a Volvo. He lives on top of a mountain, when not living with someone, preferably a lady, with hot running water. A Volvo is not really the vehicle for his location. Perhaps this is a somewhat uncharitable comment, but, I am working through my issues currently with this man and there are times when I would love to simply smack him across the chops. This is the second time we’ve been to this movie together. Only this time, he didn’t get to come back to my house. This time, I am not going to be the lady with the nice hot shower. When I got back from Maine and retraced his footsteps out the door, I had to wonder what the big hurry was. He didn’t put away his electric razor. Some men aren’t much good at covering their tracks. He never shaved up nice for me. He also left the turkey he hit in my freezer. And it’s still there. I don’t think he even bothered to pluck or gut it.
“GOD this is sooooo good,” he murmurs, taking another bite of carrot muffin, forgetting his anger at me. He is ecstatic. He loves my gluten-free cooking. He loves my muffins. He loves kale. He loves quinoa. He wanted to talk. He kept calling and calling me- calling me and leaving messages that he wanted to go to a mediator. A third party. That we had to talk. Or maybe just one on one. If I didn’t want to go to a mediator. We could just talk.
So I turned up at the cabin, and knocked on the door. He knew I’d turn up. He knew I would bring him fresh baked goods, still warm. He knew I would bring the elk antler to him.
But he’s not getting the truck. He is not getting Prince Hopalong.
He’s standing there in the doorway holding a drill, looking at me holding out a brown paper bag full of nice warm carrot muffins.
“I read all your texts,” he says. “I can’t stand you sending me all those texts.”
“Oh, I was texting YOU? You were calling me all the time and texting me in the middle of the grocery store and shit. Anyway, I made you some muffins.” I hold them out, steeling myself for what he’s about to say to me. But then he doesn’t say it. He changes his tone suddenly.
“I was about to put some bindings on a snowboard,” he says. “Hiiiiiii, what’s up?”
“Carrot muffins. Like I said.”
“Well, put them down so I can say hi to you first. You want me to say hi to you? You want a hug? Because I’m only giving you a hug if you want one.”
And now here we are, hours later, many angry words later, many moments of reprise later, let go, take it back, let go, take it back, trying to get to the part where we forgive each other, but, we are still arguing about Prince Hopalong.
“I want to make it RIGHT,” I try to explain. “I’m sick of starting up the truck with a pair of PLIERS. I watched a tutorial. I’ve got the steering column in pieces, and I’m working on replacing the actuator rod.”
“It ran when I parked it, there’s nothing wrong with that truck. You didn’t have to fix anything. It’s just the cold, it would have started if you had just charged the batteries and primed it. There’s probably a can of starter fluid right in the truck,” he snipes.
He stuffs some twigs in the pot belly stove, and looks around. “You got a lighter or any matches?”
“Nope,” I say. “You don’t have any matches?”
“Oh, I can get it started,” he says. I don’t really see how he did, or where the matches came from, but, the fire springs into life. He squats there and pokes at the fire a little. “So, you don’t want me to sell the antler, huh?”
Here it comes, he wants something. He’s going to try to get me to give him something so he doesn’t sell the antler. He stands up and walks over to the window, munching another muffin.
“These would be so good heated up, with a little coconut oil,” he says.
I miss the fact that Lawrence loves my hippie organic food. He knows I miss him eating my gluten-free pizza. He misses me taste-testing his Kombu-cafe, which is what he calls his home-brewed combination Kombucha-coffee drink. He’s going to work this hard. I square my shoulders. He’s not getting my truck. He’s not coming back to my cabin so he can take hot showers and sleep in my recliner. It’s not happening. He’s about to try to work this situation to his advantage. I can’t blame him- he’s really in survival mode right now, in his little cabin. He’s already told me he doesn’t have any toilet paper. And I’ve already told him I’m fine using leaves.
He may be in survival mode, but, he’s surviving. And pretty nicely, too. The cabin is warm, and he’s got a stack of wood he’s chopped. He’s got some food, and he’s busy as always with his projects. So, really? Secretly, I am proud of him for not just going off and finding some other chick to crash on. Even if he did ask me for my best friend’s number, once she’s single.
“You can’t have Prince Hopalong,” I say. “I have a relationship with that truck.”
“I can get that truck going,” he says. “I’ve always been able to get that truck going. I could get it going, and then bring you hay. I can get you whatever you want in that truck.”
So many times, we would be somewhere in the middle of the night, me handing him tools, both of us perched up in the engine bay. Or maybe we would have to roll Hopalong through a pasture to bump start, so we could go get water. Or we’d have a load of water and the truck wouldn’t start, so we’d have to crack the air filter, or he’d have to crack open an injector. That’s how we messed up the fuel lines. That’s why they leak now.
“I had to basically go over and jack that truck out of Petra’s yard the last time you went to California,” I say. “I have been through hell with that truck. I am not letting you have the truck.”
That was the chick before me he was crashing on. He’s got this way of crashing on chicks. Or at least, he did. Maybe he’s reformed now, or maybe he’s just in between things. I thought I was going to be the relationship. The chick before me was shit talking us all over Facebook and calling the sheriff anytime he went over there to try to get his truck. So I just went over there one day when she wasn’t there and towed it.
Yeah, I thought I was gonna be the relationship. Not sure what planet I was living on. But how long am I going to hang on to this? He did try. He really did. One of the texts he sent me- in the grocery store, the one that came in and made me forget the dog food-
He said, “I gave it my best try. I gave it the best run I had.”
It’s not easy for some guys. They don’t want responsibility. They can’t deal with the pressure. They are like tomcats. They just want food. A little female company now and again. I’ve got to forgive if I’m going to be happy and move on. Somehow. But he can’t have the truck.
“You’re lucky you even got that truck out of Petra’s,” he says.
“She wasn’t gonna fuck with me,” I say.
I would love to be a sweet, gentle, wonderful woman, but, I am not.
“You can’t have the truck,” I say, and glare at his back.
I can feel him smiling, and he shakes his head. He turns around and takes a breath. He doesn’t have a truck right now. For some inexplicable reason, the dude returned to the outback of Colorado from the suburbs of California in a late model Volvo that he has to chain up to get out of Aspen Six. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a late model yuppie Volvo with chains on the tires. It really adds to the vibe. Driving down out of Aspen Six is like driving out of Tierra del Fuego. It’s like the commercials for Jeeps. Only it’s really where people live. There’s a corner up there named after me, where I ran Chubby the Honda off the road and would have gone down in a canyon if not for a snowbank blocking me. Lawrence had to come down the next morning and pick my Honda up and put it back on the road. We were having an argument the whole time about love, walking down to the Honda from his cabin. Why didn’t he ever say he loved me.
“Isn’t this love, me walking down to your Honda with you to help you get it out of the snowbank?” he’d said.
Women of the Diesel Diva blog, if you are out there, take note.
But now here we are, all this time later, and I see him ready to let go. He is finally ready to let go of me. Yes, he had to turn off his phone service- oh, because he couldn’t afford it- but, he’s going to let go. He is seeing that I am not going to save his ass. And on my end, I am finally ready to realize that he does care about me, and maybe he even loves me, despite his always trying to figure out how to get me to save his ass or at least feed him. I may very well have gotten about the best he had to give, and I’d better just be happy I was the girl who got it.
“Okay, it’s your truck. You’re owning it,” he says. “Okay. You’re owning your shit. You came here to the cabin, you made amends, and you’re fixing shit. So do it. So fix it. Own it up. Get it rolling. It got me from California to here. It did its job. It’s yours now.”
And that was that. I guess we are now divorced, as much as hippies in Colorado ever get divorced. I didn’t even know we were married. But, no one ever gets married anymore, right? They just get divorced.
So here I am, days later, trying to put my life back together after all that. I guess putting my life together means taking a truck apart. Our truck. But, days later, I still can’t get it started. Days later, I’m still fighting with the actuator rod in the steering column. Yesterday, when I went out to work on it, I discovered that my white truck had a flat tire. So I had to deal with that, first. The formerly sleeping Jason suddenly appeared, helped me with the flat, and then helped me get the steering wheel pulled, since he knew how to do that. But, I can’t get the turn signal assembly out. It doesn’t flop out like in the tutorial, i can’t get the housing open, I can’t get at the actuator rod to get it out. It took three trips to Tractor Supply yesterday to get all the tools I needed, I had to spray the nut holding the steering wheel on with PB Blaster, and then put my feet against the steering wheel and use my arms to get the nut loose.
So I’m about to start again. I’m about to take as long as it takes to get all this apart, get it cleaned up, and get it put back together again. Small pieces are falling out, and I’m having a hard time remembering where they go. But with patience, I will somehow remember.
And this is me, in the You Tube video below, getting the nut off the steering wheel in the first place. I think that PB Blaster should sponsor me. Jason keeps saying I smell like a mechanic and maybe I should try to get some PB Blaster on the truck and not all over me…
I think Jason would rather that I occasionally take a bath and put on a nice dress.
But I’m a determined woman. I may be completely defeated, the truck is still not fixed, but I am NOT going to make any more pies or muffins. Even if it means my hands are in a perpetual state of filth.
So I guess it’s time to get back to it. It’s almost warm enough in the Colorado desert to get outside and start some truck repair. Just me and a 1987 6.9 Liter Diesel F-250. I guess I’m just trying to get it done somehow. Just trying to get it done. And I guess that once I get this truck running, I can drive down to the river and have a good cry and throw some rocks and yell a few bad words and get on with my life.