Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Grease Monkey Is You

Bike repair is FUN.


Bike repair!

Why didn't anyone tell me as a kid that fixing machinery is this much fun?!

So, as you might have guessed, I've been fixing up Sheila. Today she got a simple tube replacement, with liners so maybe she won't get flats so often in the future, plus I de-rusted her handlebars, the front wheel, and the chain (dear god, the chain), and then I realized I don't have a screwdriver so I had to run and get one so I can install the new brakes. The fenders and chain cover are pretty dinged up and rusted, so I may be looking into either replacing them, or even better, getting them all rust-free and then maybe reshaping them a little (to fix the dings) and maybe redoing the paint job, if I can learn to do pin striping really well. Her current paint job is (ironically enough)a lovely metallic Aggie maroon, with stripes of a light burnt orange. Part of me wants to go with that as a theme, part of me just wants to touch up the current paint job or recreate it. And then, of course, you need the rack in front and back, the headlights, tail lights, and a little bell that goes ching ching!

And maybe streamers.

In other news, check out this site: Fast Boy Fenders Isn't that just fabulous?

But yeah, getting back to this whole why did I not know that fixing things is fun bit, it did make me think a lot about the gender stereotypes that I was exposed to growing up. Luckily, I didn't have really really strict parents in this respect - no hair covering or you-must-play-with-dolls-and-be-bad-at-math stuff. I had honestly never heard the whole 'girls are bad at math' thing until it came up in a discussion on feminism and what we teach our girls. I tended to live under a cultural rock, though - I never knew of Barbie's infamous 'Math is hard!' bullshit, because I didn't play much with them. We had a doll house, true, and we did own a few barbie knock-offs (being poor and all), but mostly to entertain myself I read, so my dolls had their hair cut short, new clothes made, tiny weapons forged, and hey presto! Free Amazon's from Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels (and yes, I did do this, and no, I don't have any of them any more. I have considered taking this up again). For some reason, my dolls were usually in survivalist situations - stranded in mighty jungles, on desert islands, in snowy forests, and had to fight to survive. It was good times.

I specifically recall TwinSister and I having a pair of twin barbies and some male doll from the dollhouse set - hers went out and smoked and partied, mine cured her lung cancer. By turning her lungs inside out, and scraping out the tar. I could not understand why people were not doing this in real life.

But anyway, the thing is, is that we were exposed as children to people doing mechanic-y type things. We were friends with another family with a persian father and american mother, more than friends, it was like we were one very large extended family. We saw each other almost every day, the children slept over at either one house or the other, and so long as they were all accounted for at the end of the night all was well. And the father there, let's call him MechanicUncle, he was always working on cars with the oldest of his two sons. There were two fixer cars in the garage, one fixer car in the courtyard of the house, and two fixer cars in the driveway, along with the one working van. MechanicUncle was in no rush about these things, he'd go to the junkyards and get parts when they were available, and do without if they were not. For years, my entire childhood, I was around him and his kids as they worked on fixing up, selling, stripping down, and otherwise tinkering around with old cars.

Looking back now, I think it was the often gruff demeanor of MechanicUncle that kept me from asking what he was doing with all those cars, and could he show me. He worked long hours, and was in an unhappy marriage but didn't want to get a divorce, because the children were so young, and then of course they kept having more and more. They ended up with six children, two from CraftyAunt's previous marriage, and four together. CraftyAunt later on did end up divorcing MechanicUncle, and we've lost track of her, though my dad keeps in touch with MechanicUncle, and we visit him and his restaurant (best damn gyros in town!) every time we go into Houston and it's not just a hit-and-run kind of visit. But yeah, it never occurred to any of us to see if the girl children would be interested in fixing up the cars with their dad, and I think that's a shame. The youngest girl was always a tomboy, wanted to do everything her brothers were doing, and I don't know if she kept up with that as she was growing up - I don't think I've seen the kids since Mom and Dad divorced, and that was about ten years ago.

I should call him up, and see if any of his kids needs a bike.

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