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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pump It Twice. Let It Up. Push It To The Floor.


A repost from a particularly humid -- and brake-soft -- day in the summer of '11...


When the temperatures soar and the humidity is such that distant muscle memory of gills springs unbidden to one’s mind, what does the thinking woman do?

Go to the lake? To a pool perhaps? An air-conditioned theater, maybe?

Would you believe a backyard, sweat dripping from the end of my nose?

I blame my car.

My car! What an unbelievably precarious thing is my car!

The front bumper? Lost in an unfortunate car versus iced-over alley confrontation.

The driver’s side window? Can’t be lowered more than three inches without running off the track.

And if you’ll just turn the music down a touch, you’ll notice that the front end makes an interesting R2D2-meets-wet-Gremlin sound that make women heading into grocery stores turn around and frown in confusion.

What is that sound?

And now? The brakes. The soft, holy-hannah-that-was-close brakes.

For cryin’ out loud, will it never end?

So that’s where I am. I am in Mary’s backyard. With Mary. Watching Jon replace several feet of brake line.

“The neighbors are afraid of us,” Mary says.

“Well look at ya…”

“They’re afraid of us, aren’t they, Jon?”

“Who?” Jon’s voice is muffled by the Honda’s undercarriage.

“The neighbors.” Mary points across the alley. “Over there.”

“That house?” I say, pointing to where the new people have moved in.

Jon wiggles out from under the car, stares upwards thoughtfully, carefully wipes his extra-long screwdriver with a stained blue rag. “Is that it?” he says, dryly. “We’re pointing now?”

“That’s ‘cause we’re crass, aren’t we, honey?” There’s no response from Jon. “Honey? Aren’t we crass?”

“We don’t talk like that,” he says, already pushing his way back under the car.

“Now you’re gonna want to take a look at this,” he says. “Here’s your problem.” From under the car, he holds out a leprous, scabby length of 3/16th piping.

“It’s a weeper,” he says.

I look at Mary. She shrugs. I look at Jon.

“It’s a weeper,” he explains. “There’s no actual hole – this is the length just behind that rusted-out wheel you used to have. You wouldn’t have seen a puddle under the car. It was just weeping out, slowly.”

Mary starts chuckling, low and musical. It’s a sound she makes when she’s got something going on upstairs. “You know what this means, don’t you, Pearl?”

I’m grinning already.

“It means don’t fear the weeper,” she grins, blue eyes shining. She turns and shouts toward Jon. “Doesn’t it, honey?”

“I’ve always enjoyed a little Blue Oyster Cult,” I offer.

From under the car, Jon sighs in resignation.

The sky hangs low in grey and blue clouds, the deluge of the night before clings to the ground. It’s hot, it’s humid, and there are Japanese beetles everywhere, looking for all the world like tiny and expensive brooches.

The air compressor kicks on with a mighty thump. WHIRRRRRRRR.

Jon removes the left front wheel. Mary climbs into the driver’s side, her head hangs back, her face red in the heat.

Jon wipes his face with his tee-shirt.

“Pump it twice. Now let it up. Now push it to the floor.”

Again and again, he repeats this litany, and again and again, Mary does as he says. “Pump it twice. Now let it up. Now push it to the floor”. Eventually the brake fluid runs clear, no air spurts.

That's one fewer thing wrong with the Honda.

She lives to brake another day.

And as Jon likes to say, he killed it.

23 comments:

troutbirder said...

Nice story. I never owned a Honda though...;)

Shelly said...

“Pump it twice. Now let it up. Now push it to the floor."

Hey- was he leading my exercise class yesterday afternoon?

Mary and Jon are good folk.

vanilla said...

I am thinking two weepers in the back yard: the brake line and the owner of the Honda.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
They become like pets, these old vehicles. You'll do anything to keep them going - but the day will come when the hard decision must be made. Or the decision is made for you.

I still miss that thing...

fishducky said...

Have you thought about getting a cart & a couple of oxen?

Joe Pereira said...

Pearl, you have the ability to turn a car repair occasion into a pleasant and amusing experience. Could do with your help at my workshop - our Customer Satisfaction Index rating would go through the roof in no time :)

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Thank goodness for friends who married mechanics.

Pat Tillett said...

It means don't fear the weeper! HA! Now that is a classic line Pearl...

Great story also!

Daisy said...

Oh dear. I hate when cars make noises they are not supposed to make. Cars are a constant money pit. It seems we're always putting money into them for something.

jenny_o said...

Hondas are good cars. Keep fixing it as long as you can! Rather, see if Jon can keep fixing it as long as he can. What a nice guy. And Mary too.

Douglas said...

Was this the car that Maryna called a "piece of sheet?"

Eccentricess said...

Home mechanics are the best.
And they often offer tea as well. :-)

Jacquelineand.... said...

You do realise I'll be laughing about this at random moments throughout the evening?

Don't fear the weeper. *snort*

sage said...

Great storytelling, Pearl! Of course, memories of those hot humid afternoons are a little faint right now, on the last day of February in the great white north...

Eva Gallant said...

You can make the most mundane events entertaining! That's an admirable skill.

Eva Gallant said...

You can make the most mundane events entertaining! That's an admirable skill.

Kana said...

Images of irridescent brooch-beetles in the sizzling humidity came alive - and for a moment, I was warm. Thanks, Pearl!

Gigi said...

What Kana said! For just that brief moment, I felt like it was summer. *sigh*

River said...

I'm glad I don't own a car, but if I did, I'd love to have a friendly handy-man neighbour like Jon. And Mary too.

Rose L said...

Pump it twice, let it up, push it to the floor...images come to mind. I can picture someone giving dance instruction...someone demonstrating a new age cleaning tool..or...well, I leave the final one to your imagination

The Elephant's Child said...

Mary and Jon are keepers. But you know that.

King of New York Hacks said...

He did kill it :D

Sleepshort said...

Most amusing yarn. Thanks for this.