Real Life Adventures made me squirm today because, yes, I used to know something about cars. My roommate junior year in college -- my junior year in college, not his -- was a mechanic and he'd have his buddies over after work every night, so I heard a lot about the topic.
That was in 1970.
There have apparently been a few changes and some most pretty much all of them snuck up on me.
I knew about carburetors because, when they went to fuel injectors, it was kind of a big deal. The rest of the parts just sort of trickled away, particularly since one major overall change is that you can't fix your own car as easily as you once could.
Not that I ever did.
But the old VW days of duct tape and baling wire are long gone (for that matter, so is baling wire) and now you need a computer thingie to even find out what might be wrong, so that you can simply replace a $400 computer chip by snapping in a new one and then finding out that, no, that apparently wasn't it.
Anyway, I've quit pretending to know what's what and have gone back to just knowing when to keep driving and when to pull over and shut it down before you do real harm.
But not all is cause for despair in this changing world.
I needed new windshield wipers -- that I can still diagnose -- and went to Auto Zone, where the nice young woman grabbed the right ones, then went out into the parking lot and snapped them in place for me.
It was an encouraging indication of how women have come up in the world, because, back in 1970, I didn't know a lot of girls who knew how to check their oil, much less where it went in.
I suspect this young woman has had her head under the hood since she was tall enough to hand her daddy a wrench.
And the name tag on her workshirt said "Jolene," a name I'd have heard far more often among my roomie's friends than among my college classmates.
(BTW, Dolly has always had the best sessions people around her.)
Even further back
A tip of the hat to Tom Spurgeon, who reports the apparent resurrection of the old Harvey characters from the past.
I hardly know where to start on this one. My folks let us each have a magazine subscription each year -- I suppose geared to an older sibling's school fundraisers -- and, as a wee tyke, I chose comics, and Harvey comics in particular.
I remember getting a new issue of "Spooky, the Tough Little Ghost," each month, which not only encouraged reading but the concept of getting, and, ultimately, sending, mail.
Then, when we were in high school, a buddy on the wrestling team got a Hot Stuff tattoo on his forearm, to the consternation of school authorities who couldn't do much about it after the fact, this being 1966 and well before tats were mainstream, not to mention well before you could readily remove them.
Mostly, though, it was to the intimidation of his opponents on the mat, who already had plenty of reason to not want to be there in the first place.
Jimmy -- who, by the way, was a really nice guy if you weren't hoping to pin him -- could climb the rope in gym to the top, using only his hands, with his legs spread, straight and at 90 degrees to his body.
He also liked to let his beard grow in for about 24 hours before a match, just enough to be bristly when he dug his chin into an opponent's back, but not enough that the referee would make him shave.
The Hot Stuff tattoo was just a bonus.
(Trivia: When I did a serial story about a young voyageur in the early 1800s, I sent collaborator Dylan Meconis photos of Jimmy as an example of what a tough young French-Canadian who'd been pitching hay and cutting firewood all his life might look like.)
Well after high school days, I became friends with Sid Couchey, a Harvey artist who had worked primarily on Richie Rich, but also on Little Dot and Little Lotta and, from time to time, the rest of the gang.
Sid and I collaborated on compiling some local history panels he'd done years before into a book project, and he used to drop by the newsroom to talk baseball with the editors as well.
So I'm glad to see a comeback of those old characters, but, man, they've got a lot to live up to.
Now here's your moment of vroooom
One evening after we got back from a wrestling match, Jimmy realized we could still catch the basketball game that night against Edwards, so we went over there in his car. On the way, he showed me how, if he tried to flip on the brights, his headlights and dash lights would all go completely black, which didn't matter because there was a full moon and snow on the ground.
It was most definitely not a GTO nor even a Pontiac, but what it lacked in speed, it made up for in sound. Both Jolene and Kevin, my college-days roommate, would have approved, if only because of the constant challenges it presented.