Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chivalry is not dead . . . thank God!

I went out late last night. Yeah, I'm talking left my house at 9:15 PM and didn't return home until way past . . . 11. Okay, so I'm not a teenager anymore. I'm in my, ahem, late twenties. (Hey, it could be true if you adhere to a literal definition of "late.")

So, already last night I was out of my element in so many ways . . . out past dark, on my way home from a blues club (Broad Street Blues in Phenix City - my brother's band was playing there and will be again on 12/6. Like that plug, Dan?), and driving someone else's car (David's because, ironically as you'll soon see, my heater doesn't work).

Now, about the heater . . . it's the darnedest thing. The heater in my minivan (so just gave away my age fib, didn't I?) stopped working week before last. It blows air, just not hot air. Being on top of things as always, I have not gotten around to fixing it, and really, it has not mattered since the heat has not been necessary lately anyway. Until last night.

I left the house in David's car for the sole purpose of having heat. Imagine my surprise and chagrin when I couldn't get it to blow warm air. Nothing but cold. Normally, I would have called David and asked how the heck you turn his heater on, but given that I was having the exact same problem with my van, I started to think maybe it wasn't the vehicles after all. Maybe I was just an idiot. I mean, what are the odds that the heat would be broken in both of our vehicles when we've had them both for years and never had a temperature problem of any sort. Maybe having not used a heater since early spring, I'd just forgotten how. So, I kept fiddling with the buttons, and finally about halfway to the blues club, I pressed a defroster button I had not pressed theretofor, and the heat came on. Great, problem solved; I was indeed just an idiot.

Well, on the way home that defroster button did not work such magic. Nor did any others. Still thinking the problem must be me and that it's not a big deal anyway, what with the awesome seat warmer with which David's car is equipped (no such frivolities on my van, mind you), I persevered on my late night drive home freezing, but with a warm butt at least.

And then I saw it.


A lot of smoke.

I was stopped at a light waiting to turn onto the final highway toward my house when I noticed smoke in my rearview mirror. "Hmm," I thought, "wonder where that smoke is coming from." Looked around. No other cars in the turning lanes. Just me. That can't be good, I thought, but still not 100% sure it's me (yes, I'm a little slow), I decided to go ahead and start turning onto the on ramp and see if the smoke followed me. Of course, it did. Not only was it following me, it was coming out of my hood. So, I swerved into the other lane and turned into a gas station instead. By the time I parked, the smoke was coming into the car from under the dashboard.

Trying not to panic that my car was about to explode, I reminded myself of the independent, problem-solving, un-damsel in distress type woman that I am. I would just pop the hood and take a look. Well, um, I couldn't pop the hood. That's right . . . couldn't even pop the darn hood. Something told me that that fact, combined with my complete and total ignorance as to how a car works, did not bode well for me.

Thank God for chivalry. Two young guys in pickup trucks, one wearing a camouflage jacket and hat, saw my newly acquired damsel-in-distress status and offered their assistance. Turns out the radiator cap was not screwed on all the way, so the antifreeze had leaked out and spewed all over the engine. (That sort of sounded like I know something, didn't it? You'd never believe how long it took me to determine that this "antifreeze" and "radiator fluid" they were referring to were, in fact, one and the same.) So, I bought some anitfreeze, and my rescuers filled the radiator for me. Which was a good thing because apparently this task involves gloves and a funnel, both of which I neither possessed nor would have considered using.

So, please, if anyone tells you chivalry is dead, rest assured . . . it is not. However, just in case it does succumb to sudden death, I think I'll find out how a car works. Or at least the heater.

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