Posted by: anniewilson | July 29, 2009

But I Have a Master’s Degree in Science!!!

The Teflon tape didn't work at all and was  BITCH to put on

The Teflon tape didn't work at all and was BITCH to put on

Someone who saw this actually asked me if I was kidding. Why anyone would think that I’m not daft enough to wrap Teflon tape on the wrong part of a pipe, I do not know. Up until recently I was putting motor oil in the dipstick hole of my car. I didn’t know that I was doing it wrong until I went to the auto-parts store and asked for the “small funnel”…”Not that big red one, the little one that fits in MY car.” Although I felt a little stupid when I found out about my mistake, I must say, that big hole is a helluva lot quicker and easier than the other one…AND…the spillage is next to nothing. Over the past few decades I’m sure that I’ve spilled enough oil to eradicate a small creek so it’s really, really a good thing that I do it properly now.

My screwdriver is in the silverware drawer next to the spoons and forks and the little tiny screwdriver is keeping the hair out of my eyes right now. My hammer is a can of Ragu, my screws are twisty-ties and my saw is a carving knife. Somehow I make things work with the frightening amount of knowledge that I have and whatever I can find in my kitchen drawers.

To me, home and car maintenance is like algebra. I can do it, but I wasn’t paying attention when it was being taught so I have to figure it out myself. I could ALWAYS come up with the right answers in algebra, but I would only get half credit because, although I showed my work, it made no sense to the teacher. Apparently there are “formulas” that make algebraic mysteries “easier” to solve and if you’re not going to use them, your non-conforming ass will never earn better than a C in math. But around here, there are no algebra teachers…or men…so even if I wanted to do things properly, I wouldn’t have a clue where to begin.

My father was, and is, the ultimate sexist. When I was growing up he literally said to me, “You’re a girl, you’ll never need to fix a car.” He also told me that he “couldn’t pay for a daughter to go to college because he had 3 sons and after all, a daughter would just end up married and pregnant anyway”. My sister once asked me to proofread a resume that my father had helped her write. As I perused over my sister’s qualification’s, I noticed one that seemed to catch my eye. It was a notation that, during a certain time period, my sister had worked at many “counter-girl type” jobs. It just jumped right off of the page. Anyway, she and I were absolutely not welcome at the little car fixing parties that my father had with our brothers.

But, for all of that lunacy, my father is the person who gave me one of the two most useful tidbits of information that I’ve ever, ever received. The first one was something that my son said as I was making one feeble attempt after another to return his served tennis ball. He said, “Keep your eye on the ball, Mom.” I don’t know why, but that struck me. I’d heard it a trillion times but I never internalized the notion of not ducking when a ball comes my way. It worked. I was a regular Billy Jean King after that, only heterosexual of course. The tidbit I received from my father was much easier than playing tennis. He simply said, “Righty tighty, lefty loosie.” You wouldn’t believe the change in my life since I learned that pretty much everything you can turn…turns the same way. I’m getting light bulbs out of lamps and opening the gas tank all by myself…it’s unbelievable.

Getting that stupid gas cap off at the gas station was particularly tough because that sucker goes both ways just enough to confuse the hell out of me. I never knew if I was tightening or loosening the stupid thing and there’s not always a man around to take off my gas cap so the righty tighty, lefty loosie thing is really coming in handy.

I once fixed a brake fluid leak with some folded newspaper and a coat hanger. I’m aware that there’s most likely a better way to fix a leak in a car but, like 8th grade algebra, I wasn’t paying any attention when it was taught so I just had to figure it out on my own. And like all those C’s in math, it got me by.

In my own defense…regarding my plumbing work, I went to Home Depot with the pipe and asked the guy how to fix it. He said that whoever had fixed it with duct tape did it wrong. (I can believe that, my idiot ex did that a long, long time ago.) Then he said, “You need Teflon tape.” Now think about it, what would you have thought?

Occasionally I find myself thinking, “This is so fricking STUPID and some idiot MAN thought it up!” Dealing with that tape was one such time. Ordinarily when that happens, I eventually find out that I’m “doing it wrong”. So when I was having such a tough time wrapping that damn tape around those pipes, I should have known that there was an easier way to do it. My bad. But really, SOMEONE could have at mentioned “Righty tighty, lefty loosie” before the new millennium. I’ve been here since 1958!!!

If people like my father want us to remain ignorant, that’s fine. But they have to stop shaking their heads and laughing when we figure it out by ourselves. And by the way…what else is there that no one’s telling me?

Ooh, I just thought of something…I need to go outside and check my lawn mower for a button that says, “Self propelled”. See, I’m not a COMPLETE imbecile.


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