I'm fairly secure in my masculinity, or as secure as someone who grinds his own coffee, has an enduring man-crush on Eddie Vedder, and has never fired a real gun can be. To offset these minor transgressions, none of which warrant revocation of my Man Card, I do things like climb mountains and eat lots of beans. Sometimes, I even scratch my balls. This is what men do. My membership is secure.
And yet.... I'm still confronted from time to time with that most emasculating of endeavours: entering an auto-parts store. If you can walk into an Auto Zone and not feel like half a man, ladies included, then I envy you. The second I walk through those doors and see those racks of batteries and belts and thingamadoohickeys, I am both retarded and apparently sporting a vagina where my man bits used to be.
Which is not to say that actual ladies, who may very well know how to rebuild a transmission and change a timing belt, don't know their way around a tool box. Rather, I merely employ the analogy because in our sexist society the auto-parts store is still very much the perceived domain of manly men. I mean no offense to vaginas.
And no matter what I'm in there for, be it a new battery or an air filter (both of which I can install all by myself!), I have to approach the Man behind the counter (and it is always a Man; he probably wears camo when he's not at work and enjoys Slim Jims) to ask for the item in question. This wouldn't be a big deal except, as he's asking me the particulars of my vehicle, we always get to the question of which engine I have, my vehicle type having the option of two different V-6 engines, one smaller, one larger.
Now, it might be the slightest bit unmanly at this point to have to admit to having the smaller V-6. In the Man Club, bigger is invariably better. But you know what is even better than bigger?
Actually knowing what kind of engine is in your truck!
I have no idea. Never have. The thing was purchased used eleven years ago and the owner's manual was stolen in a break-in a few years later. And it's not like I can pop the hood, eyeball the engine block and accurately guess its cubic inch displacement.
So I have to tell the guy, the manly man with his first name embroidered on his uniform shirt (probably Chuck, or Tom, or Bill, or some other manly name), that I have no friggin' clue.
Which gets me the look. That fleeting look that says, "If I, Chuck, were on the membership committee, you'd lose your Man Card for this."
So be it, Chuck. I happen to like my coffee fresh-ground and I'm not afraid to say I think Eddie Vedder is a good looking man and a compelling personality.
And one other thing, Chuck: Thanks for the windshield wiper blades, but what in the hell does my engine size have to do with them?