“Come on, dad, can you please just let me finish it this time?”
Dad continued tinkering, his thin blonde hair plastered to the back of his head.
“How am I supposed to learn anything this way?”
“You learn by watching me,” he said as he sternly looked up at me from the engine.
“Aw come on!”
“See, if I just connect this cable with this one it should work.” It wouldn’t, I knew because I had already tried that.
“Are you sure about that?”
“Of course I am.”
I remembered when he had just bought the car for us, a couple of weeks ago, and had insisted that I look up on the Internet where the axle was located, because “of course he could remember, he just wanted to show his son where it was, really”.
“Alright…” I mumbled.
“See, done already, easy peasy lemon squeezy.” He emerged from under the red hood of the car, his round face red and sweaty.
“Right, easy peasy lemon squeezy.”
“What? If you’d just pay attention instead of mope you might learn a thing or two.”
“Sure, as if I didn’t clean the throttle body with a rag, check for vacuum leaks with carburettor fluid, and readjust the oxygen sensor with a 10 MegaOhm Multimeter? As if I haven’t been working all morning to get this engine hesitation free?”
His white eyebrows furrowed before speaking, causing a drop of sweat to roll down his cheek “I did ask if I could help. You were the one who insisted on doing it alone.”
I knew that furrow, it was always there before he had one of his outbursts. He tried but we were both difficult. “Yes, I did. Because your ‘help’ assists me in no way, shape or form. Because with ‘help’ you always mean ‘take over’. Your ‘help’ makes me need help.”
“Really? That’s how you’re spinning it? I thought we could share and bond over this Mazda MX-5 Miata, which I bought for you by the way, but apparently not. Apparently me helping you with this roadster only makes you need me less.”
Had he really just used the word ‘need’? Need? Sharing and bonding wasn’t about needing someone, it wasn’t about buying someone a broken Mazda only to take away everything that’s interesting about fixing it together. I decided to say nothing.
“I can’t help it if you’re too slow to keep up with me.”
“Hmpf, keeping up with you would imply some sort of combined effort, little chance of that happening.” Shit, now I had said something.
“You watch your tone with me, boy, I’m still your fa-“
“Dad-” I tried to intervene.
“Don’t interrupt me when I’m speaking.” By this point his eyebrows formed one continues line.
“But-“ I tried again.
“No! I try and try, spend money and invest time, and what do I receive in return? A son who talks back and won’t even listen to his own father.”
“The car is smoking.”
“What!? Smoke? Well don’t just stand there then, open her up, quickly. What have you done to her? Let’s hope it’s not coming from the engine bay, perhaps it’s just a leaky fuel injector. Move aside, let me have a look.”
“It’s not the injector, it’s your cable.” As I thought. Perhaps I should have said something?
Dad opened and closed his mouth, his furrow slacked.
“Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, right?” I couldn’t help saying.