Earlier today, while driving home from lunch with my kids, I smelled burning rubber. Then I saw little black rubber chunks flying through the air. Then our car, a Toyota Prius, started bouncing up and down.
I pulled to the side, and was hit with the above image.
Back when I was growing up on the mean streets of Mahopac, N.Y., my dad never gave me a birds and the bees chat. My dad never taught me to throw a tight spiral. My dad didn’t tutor me in Spanish. What he did show me (among 1,000 other valuable things) was the proper way to change a flat tire, soup to nuts.
Now, I’m sure—at the time—it didn’t seem like such a vital thing to know. Yet in the ensuing 30 or so years, I’ve had to replace a tire, oh, six or seven times. And while it’s useful in the not-needing-to-call-AAA sorta way, what it really does is score a guy major, major man points. For example, years ago I was standing on line in a middle-of-nowhere Georgia gas station when a young woman entered and asked the attendant if he knew were a person could get help with a flat. I said, “You just need it removed and the spare put on?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“I’ll do that for you, no problem.”
I followed her to the vehicle, broke out the jack, replaced the tire—and never, ever, ever, ever, felt cooler.
There were no single hotties this afternoon, but as we reached the side of the road I said to my son and daughter, “Let’s change this thing together, OK?” They were both immediately interested, and I let them loosen the lug nuts, help raise the car, dislodge the wheel and replace it with the spare. It was greasy and dirty work, and Emmett and Casey truly enjoyed it. They also seemed to look upon me with genuine respect, the way I looked at my dad ion similar circumstances back in the day.
When all was fixed, he returned to the road as if nothing had happened.
I was euphoric.