Staving Off Masculinity, Part II

(A bad week that got better)


Author’s Note: Some of you will recall the original “Staving Off Masculinity” column, published in May 2009, that described my attempts to get a home security system installed without sacrificing any Single Guy macho points (actually, the security system was installed over 15 years ago).
Here’s a snip:

Moving past the initial insanity — that I let a total stranger in to pitch the system, and then proceeded to point out all the ways a person could break in to my house — I think I handled the “Risk Interview” with considerable aplomb. After the interview, which guaranteed ZERO DOLLARS in setup costs, I had shrewdly negotiated the setup costs up to $494.00.

But what really closed the deal were the options available, not when I’m away, but while I’m at home. By using the handy keypads, I can quickly, and in real time:

  • see which windows are being pried open by drug-addled Stephen King fans
  • calculate the amount of ingested amphetamines in an intruder’s bloodstream
  • update my will, using Twitter shorthand for expediency
  • cancel a pizza delivery, due to my impending death
  • electrocute myself


And now here I am again, nearly two decades later, still trying not to grow up. On the plus side, I never actually electrocuted myself.

So far…

I have a new car. It’s very cool. And the fact that I’m telling you “I have a cool new car” is somehow exhilarating, yet disturbing. For the first time in my life, I’m bragging about a car.

So it has begun. I have met the enemy, and he is me.

I’m officially becoming a dude.

I suppose it was unavoidable…just a matter of time. Next, I’ll be inviting my neighbors over to check out my new lawn mower, or standing around at parties looking for opportunities to make “pull my finger” jokes.

The only dim ray of hope against my morphing into full-bore dudedom is the back story: the underlying reason why I have a new car. I didn’t just rush out and buy a car due to some raging Male Biped car lust. Here’s the tale:

Some months ago I was driving to work, which is an irritating chore that I have to do almost every week, despite concrete evidence that I had just worked last week. It was about 6.45am, pre-dawn on an overcast South Carolina day, on roads with patches of lingering winter ice. (Harsh winter weather occurs in the South with clockwork regularity: last week, and before that, during the Spanish-American War.)

On an inter-subdivision road that I’ve travelled at least a thousand times, I crested a hill, at which point I observed two cars parked…or maybe abandoned…by drivers whose definition of “driveway” was extremely liberal. I was seconds away from soul-kissing two cars. It was a car gauntlet.

I managed to hit them both.

That day, I experienced several firsts … okay, several more firsts, given that in my sheltered life I’ve never crashed into two separate cars in less time than it takes to say “two separate cars.” During the next four hours:

  • I developed the medical world’s first case of psychosomatic frostbite.
  • I watched a tow-truck driver smoke over 40 cigarettes in under 30 minutes.
  • I was thoughtfully advised by a private citizen, a man who now had two badly-damaged, illegally-parked cars littering the street in front of his home, who took a bonding moment in the dark to kindly yell this counsel at me, “You need to slow the hell down!
  • When the tow-truck driver told me he was ready to go, I got in the truck and left…while the officer still had my driver’s license.
  • I learned this important logistical lesson: on the day you plan to destroy your vehicle, don’t load the car with several equipment bags and a 27″ iMac.

Ultimately, my insurance company pronounced my car DOA – totaled. So, suddenly, I have a new car, and it’s wonderful. When you drive a car for twelve years, you don’t realize what you’ve been missing. It’s like sitting through multiple terms of a Clinton White House – after a while, you just forget that people are supposed to behave.

The new car is amazing. It has a heated steering wheel…a heated steering wheel! It has a built-in, sync-able garage door opener that can learn your garage door remote. It has separate climate controls for the driver and for a passenger, even if you’re a professional Single Guy like me and your last passenger was the guy at the DMV who gives driving tests to 16-year-olds. The car can even tell me the temperature. (the outside temperature, not the passenger’s)

I’ll say it again, in case you missed it — the car has a heated steering wheel.

It’s shameful. This is just raw, devil-may-care decadence.

Now, compare all that delicious avarice to my now-deceased 12-year-old car! I had no idea! For luxury options, my old car had a nice after-market stereo (that I bought) and a parking brake. If I was in my old car and the steering wheel heated up, that meant the car had probably caught fire.

So, if you’re ever in the neighborhood, swing round and I’ll introduce you to my cool new car. Ask nicely and I may even show off the security system on my lawn mower.

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