Kicking hearts and breaking tires

Saturday March 30, 2013

Don’t tell a guy that choosing a life mate and buying a car or motorcycle are any different, because guys can relate to that quasi-ridiculous statement. While we all know that every relationship is based on lots of subtleties and intangibles, who says the choosing of a car or motorcycle isn’t?

Some guys are attracted to redheads, just like some are nuts about red cars. Then there’s the whole personality quotient. Some like a hot-blooded Italian roadster, just like some are crazy ‘bout dramatic, overly emotional women. There are so many levels to deal with when we look at cost to "own" as well. You have your high-maintenance models in cars or motorcycles as well as people. There are those who fall in love with a Ducati with its desmodromic valves that need adjusting at the dealer for big bucks every so often. Just like those who can’t live without a high maintenance mate.

Beyond the paint and the chrome, the jewelry and the make-up, there’s the inexplicable chemical attraction. Pheromones or gas fumes? What about the scents of leather vs. cloth, perfume vs. good old soap. The preferences are as varied as any other subjective thing on this earth.

Don’t get me started on used vehicles, where we all know that we are buying someone else’s problems. Was the vehicle properly maintained? Regular oil changes, new air filters and transmission flushes? Same can be said for another human being. Well fed or eats discriminatively? Good muscle tone or winded at the drop of a hat?

Some vehicles are simply quirky. It’ll run fine on cool days, but once the temperature goes above eighty it overheats? Gremlins in the electronics? Climate control shuts down inexplicably with no provocation? People carry around their own bits of quirk. Like a vehicle, we all have our own specific wiring. Thinking this through a bit more, what constitutes dealing with quirks and what is delusion about certain behaviors?

Lots of people buy used vehicles and see potential, usually never realized. A good example is buying a clapped-out Mustang and seeing a perfect car, when in reality the thing is rusted out and keeps breaking down. Denial, pure and simple. Others won’t buy without a warranty and everything has to be pristine right up front.

Test drives? Some like a short test drive while others would keep testing for years if you let ‘em. Occasionally there is the tire kicker who buys the vehicle without any sort of testing. Is that an emotional decision, or pure laziness?

Just like relationships, vehicle purchases often make no sense whatsoever. While one person will repeatedly get burned by buying the same type of vehicle, others learn from their mistakes and make better choices the next time. Then there are the long suffering delusional types who continue to accept bad behavior from their mate and kid themselves that it will eventually get better. You want to scream at folks like that, because everyone sees they are driving a lemon, but the driver is the last to get it. They just keep holding on to nothin’ but the wheel.

I see folks unable to deal with any mechanical issues, and as soon as the car needs new tires and a brake job, they’re ready to move on to another model. Some people are no different about relationships. When the road gets rocky, they get gone. What about purchasing an off brand import and choosing a mate with a totally different cultural background? I’ve seen it work and I’ve seen it fail. Some folks are willing to put all kinds of work into a vehicle or a relationship and it endures forever, just like the guy who works hard at maintaining his car because he approaches ownership as an attempt at keeping it good forever.

If car guys actually look at their relationships and draw as many parallels as I just did, some serious introspection could result. Folks who know me have seen me stick with a car for long periods of time, and then I’m on a shopping spree every few years. Well, my relationships have not been anywhere near as varied. Those are long term and few. Can you really compare the two?

In the end I have to conclude that you can only draw so many car/motorcycle analogies with personal relationships. You have to keep in mind that everything I’ve said so far is probably crap because we all know that in the vast majority of male-female relationships, it’s the woman who does the choosing. Men don’t have a prayer.

Arlo Mudgett’s Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT FM Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.


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