Thursday, May 10, 2007

engines and me

I was out cutting the grass, again, today when the mower started to falter and wheeze and labor under the strain. Experience has taught me that if I clean the air filter the wheezing will be replaced by the usual energetic roar. So I stopped and cleaned the air filter and all was well.

But what if it was a problem other than a clogged air filter? What if it was something like a carburator adjustment or some other esoteric engine malady. I am ashamed to admit that I would be still looking at a disabled lawnmower right now. I am not conversant with the mechanics of the internal combustion engine.

By admitting such a shortcoming I may have to give up my place in the Macho Brotherhood of Guys. Somehow I never got the memo about the need to be knowledgeable about cars and engines and motors and things mechanical that go zoom and make lots of noise.

There have been numerous occasions, when in the company of other persons of the male persuasion, that the conversation would inevitably turn to cars and their mysterious ways. At such times my eyes would glaze over and I would simply nod occasionally to show I was part of the conversation, when in fact I was desperately hoping to die before I was asked for an opinion about the horsepower or number of cylinders under the hood of my “ride.” Perhaps I am missing the mechanic gene that seems so prominent in other guys. I have never been even remotely interested in auto mechanics. Engines are greasy and dirty and smell bad (sorta like the guys who work on them). I have no clue what makes those engines work and no idea what a carburator does or why the number of cylinders is so important or why dual exhausts are cool and, God help me, what a Hemi is.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cars and love to drive them. But my love is restricted to the aesthetics of the machine and the freedom that driving affords me. Many cars are truly beautiful and I love going fast in them and feeling the responsiveness of the machine to my touch. Just don’t ask me why the machine responds to my touch or why it is able to go that fast. My depth of understanding of the automobile ends with that key thingy that starts the engine and the function of the two pedals at my feet that make it go and make it stop. Other than that, I only know that I have to aim where I want to go and the car will take me there.

While I can cope with a balky lawnmower on those occasions when only the air filter needs cleaning or a spark plug needs to be replaced (what does a sparkplug do anyway?), when it comes to that much bigger engine in my car, it is strictly hands off. I’m not even quite sure how to raise the hood. But then I figure I really don’t need to know as long as there is a mechanic’s branch in the Macho
Brotherhood of Guys.


Anonymous said...

Trust me, you aren't out of any club...seems all of the lawnmower repair centers in my area (and for 20 miles around) are citing up to a 4 week wait for repairs and tune-ups. This to my female mind says that there is a great majority of men out there who dont know bupkus about small engine repair and maintenance. Feel better now? Thought so.


The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

I think you are very brave to attempt air filters and spark plugs! Sadly, the only man in my house - the 18 year old son - is both tool and engine challenged!

Michael Manning said...

Before long we'll have robotic mowers! :)