Cafe Sunset


Originally Published July 2007

Summer is officially here. Besides the obvious perspiration stains on my shirts, how do I know? Duce, my truck, is leaking anti-freeze on the garage floor. Sigh!

I have a fairly good collection of tools and I know that the water pump needs replacing. The job is straight forward and will take most of one of my weekend days and a six pack to do . . . but it's summer. The temperature is 112 out there. Several years ago, I bought a small window air conditioner that is sitting in the corner of the garage. It was supposed to help get me through times like these. Although I’ve threatened for years to install the little bugger . . . I haven't.

Don't get me wrong; being an old hot rodder, I don't mind getting my hands a little dirty. The Queen does have a fit when I wash then dry them with the guest towels. What's up with that? Guests never use them, so what else are they good for? The problem is that the truck always wants attention during summer. The day the temperature goes over 110 . . . bam, I'm on my back in the hot garage.

Alright, you're asking why I just don't take it down to the local mechanic. Pshaw! Think of the money I save and besides, those guys don't know what they're doing. I want the job done right so I'll do it myself. It's a guy thing.

So here is how my weekend will go. Anne and I have made several appointments Saturday morning so I won't even be able to start until the sun goes away. Saturday evening, I'll start taking parts off Duce so I can go to the parts store with my comprehensive list when they open Sunday morning. Oh! I need to stop at the convenience store for beer. Oops I forgot. They don't sell beer until 10:00 am on Sunday. I get home from the parts store with the new pump and I'm ready to assemble.

Not quite. There's a bolt that doesn't fit any of the tools that I have, so I need to make a trip to Sears for a new set of wrenches that has the one I need. They don't sell it alone you see. You got to buy the whole set. Not the ordinary ones, but the shiny polished ones. They cost more of course, but look really nice lined up in my tool drawer. By now, it's noon and I can stop and buy the beer.

Back at the house, a couple of cold ones cool me off while I mull over my strategy. I see this would be a good time to replace that lower radiator hose. There's the second trip to the parts store. Boy it's really hot out and another beer would taste really good about now. Oh look! There's the local pub. Before I realize, a couple of hours have passed while watching some car race on TV from a dark corner of the bar. Oops, back to work.

Again at the garage, I get the new parts assembled when Anne burst through the door . . . without opening it . . . and demands dinner. I tell her I'm almost ready to button the engine back up and put in the new antifreeze . . . that I forgot to buy. I'll just run back down to the parts store only to find out it closed a half hour ago. Now I have to go to the all night parts store all the way downtown. That's the place along the freeway where on Sunday night all the other amateur mechanics, like me, are buying parts to finish up a simple two hour job they started yesterday. The line is out the front door because it's the only place open Sunday night. They all wear 'wife-beater' shirts and hair nets. Some even have suspicious looking bulges in their back pockets.

On the ride home, I begin to realize that I'm already sore in places I didn't know I had places. Great! Another geriatric thing I've inherited from my mother. Finally at home, I pour in the antifreeze, put on the cap, close the hood, turn off the light and go inside for dinner only to discover that the house is dark and the other half of the family has gone to bed.

I guess I'm not hungry either, so I'll just finish this last beer after washing up in the bathroom and dry my hands on these guest towels.

Till next month.