A woman's perspective of living with and loving a Mercedes-Benz Maniac
Authored by our own Bonnie Fancy.
Reprinted with permission from The Star Magazine. May/June 2008 Issue.
I recently read in Tom and Ray's column that men treat their cars the way woman treat their husbands. Either Tom and Ray have Steppford wives or they are delusional. The truth is men treat their cars the way they wish their wives would treat them.
When a man is driving the car he winces at every bump and inhales sharply through clenched teeth if something like a grain of sand hits the car. Every little dent, ding or scratch is a calamity. Road construction causes an increase in blood pressure and some highly colorful expletives in the male car owner. It is as if they don't expect anything to be on the road besides themselves.
If the human equivalents to the dent, ding or scratch are the bump, bruise and scratch, then women would be on Prozac if they freaked out the way men do. It's not that we don't care, it's just that when you are married to a man who is into auto restoration, it is not unreasonable to expect there will be some injuries. The best way to handle the bumps, bruises and scratches is to get out the antiseptic lotion and possibly a bandage and save the histrionics for something big like metal in the eye, major floods of blood, or broken bones.
If someone even appears to lean on the car, then the man must check it over for dents dings and scratches. Even a smudge will bring on that sharp inhale. A dog lifting his leg within three feet of the car will cause a sedentary, overweight male car owner to run with the speed of a Mercedes McClaren across a field the size Rhode Island to make sure nothing has defiled his Benz.
Most women are not that solicitous of their husbands. We believe that our men are capable of dealing with anyone leaning on them. As for the dog, when was that last time you saw a dog lift his leg on a man. Okay, mine has done it a couple of times, but we are talking about a border collie, not a fire breathing dragon. All Ernie, or any man, has to do under the circumstances is to say, “NO, Bad Dog!."
The garage in which the man's car resides must be clean and clear of anything that might damage it. This includes her car, the kids' bikes, snow shovels and other lawn care equipment unless these items are each on its own hook as far away from the car as possible. You want to see a grown man cry? Just bounce a basket ball into his garage. I dare you.
He might wish the house were as clean and well organized as his garage, but it isn't because the items occupying the garage are inanimate. The children and pets who live in the house with him are not. They have toys that they leave out. They have muddy shoes or paws that track in all sorts of stuff. For that matter so does he. We can attempt to keep the house that clean, but then we would be jumping down their collective throats, just the way he does over dirt in the garage.
When a man washes his car it is practically a religious ritual. The water must be the right temperature and pH. The cleanser also must be the right pH. There is no point cleaning the car if it ends up with a hazy residue. There are separate cleaners for the chrome, the tires and the windows. The job must be done on an overcast day in the seventies with no rain in sight. If the sun is shining, the car will dry before it is rinsed properly. If it is too hot, the soap might bake onto the car's surface. Car washes are not to be trusted, especially if they recycle their water. There might be grit or some foreign detergent still in it. Once washed and rinsed, the car is carefully and lovingly dried with a chamois or possibly blown dry with the leaf blower.
We prefer to let our husbands bathe themselves with the same generic soap the rest of us use. After all it was on sale. We know that generic soap cleans just as well as the most expensive soap on the market. As long as it gets the grease off his hands, who cares if it's brand X instead of Monsieur Henri's special degreasing soap that leaves hands soft and sweet smelling. At four times the price, is it worth it to have my husband's hands smell like an herb garden?
The man will spend major amounts of time and money on line and at tire stores to make sure he has the perfect tire for his car. He will read tomes of material on products designed to rejuvenate the paint and upholstery and lubricants to make sure his car is properly nourished. Only the best, and usually that means the most expensive, for his car.
When carpeting or upholstery needs replacing it has to be top of the line.
His clothes? Well, if he's only going to wear it around the garage, T-shirts from the souvenir kiosk at the county fair or the race track will do just fine. Grease and garage dirt don't stick to those things anyway. They much prefer white dress shirts especially if they can jump on just before leaving for an important non-car function. Automotive paint prefers anything that is in direct contrast to its own color. In other words bright red will land on green. The only way around that is a plaid shirt marked irregular. The bottom line is the less we have to pay the better. That way we don't freak out when things get torn or stained.
Of course, if we were trying to keep our husbands concours ready it would be different. Then we would be just as crazy as they are.