I tripped over an intake manifold when I walked into my bedroom that day. The husband was sitting on the side of the bed putting on his sock. I was focused on the hole in his sock and missed seeing the manifold.
I should have known the manifold was there.
It had been in the bedroom for 2 ½ months.
The husband and the challenges and consequences of his automobile obsession have been a part of my life for over 3 decades. We survived an unattractive paint job on an old Plymouth, an all night clutch repair on a mid 70’s Pinto and a race against a federal security helicopter at 140 miles per hour. We can now laugh at the engine fire in Cleveland, the air conditioning failure in a 105 degree Idaho desert and a ‘69 Camaro runaway hubcap rolling down the toll road south of Chicago. And someday, I am sure I will look back fondly on the mountainside dirt road, flat tire ordeal.
I was used to piles of car junk, I mean, important treasures, in the garage. I was used to mysterious charges from Jegs on my credit card, gallons of orange hand cleaner under the sink and the occasional carburetor on the kitchen counter. This latest automotive challenge seemed to cross the line, though. There was an intake manifold for a 1969 Camaro in my bedroom and it was in my way. I said to the husband, toe throbbing, not hiding my disapproval, “You know, normal people do not keep car parts in their bedroom!”
I saw the husband’s honest reaction in slow motion. A perplexed look of hurt and confusion passed across his face. A look of shock settled in his eyes that stared back at me. Without any doubt in his mind, he innocently said, “Oh, I really don’t think it’s that uncommon. I think you’d be surprised.”
I told myself the husband was nuts. This manifold clashed with my bedroom decor and cluttered up the room. It needed to go.
I knew I’d have to resign myself to the hardships that come with being the wife of a car guy. I walked out of the bedroom that day, leaving the husband to put on his other sock. I walked past my piles of scrapbook material, my stacks of family photos and the sweatshirts and shorts I had thrown on the ground. As I left the room I looked back at the 13 library books, an assortment of magazines, 3 different kinds of lotion, 5 ibuprofen pills and numerous headbands that lived near my side of the bed. I picked up the mail and the phone, a bottle of water, a thermometer, two earrings and a candy wrapper and headed out of the room.
And as I reached the door I turned to the husband and reiterated my point, “Normal people do not have manifolds cluttering up their bedrooms.”