June 30, 2008

I can do everything, except...

Something Like Life
June 28, 2008

WOMEN have come a long way in defining the parameters of what being female, or being feminine, is all about. With our gorgeous physical attributes, we also use our brains to become accomplished in whatever field we choose to excel in. Many women go on to become outstanding managers, executives and in any office position traditionally held by men. They are highly paid and treat themselves to new furniture, new jewelry and new wardrobe, and reward themselves for hard work with vacations they pay for.

Some of us have even gone on to make a mark in extremely dangerous sports or adventure hobbies, which, only a few years ago, were started and dominated by men. (I don’t know about you, but hiking in the woods is rather extreme for me.)

And we even know how to change a light bulb.

I know my mom still worries sometimes that I may not find the right man to settle down with because I’m not “needy” enough. I can buy the correct light-bulb wattage to change the old one, make minor repairs in the toilet, use a hammer on nail to put up photo frames, unclog the drain, set up my Internet connection with my Wi-Fi router, sync my Mac with my PDA and cell phone, etc. I don’t need a guy to do those things for me.

I even remember asking my Pop for a drill as a birthday present. I was living away from my parents at the time and just could not put up any artwork on my apartment walls as they were all cemented. Pop thought I was out of my mind for wanting a drill before finally pronouncing my present of choice—at about P3,500 for a basic Black and Decker unit—an expensive proposition. Hmmph!

I can juggle work and household chores. I can live without a maid except that now, I have an 80-year-old mother who needs to have someone home with her when I’m out. And I love cooking.

But unlike most career women, I don’t drive. Most people who know how tough I can be sometimes are aghast that I don’t even own a car. I just tell them that I’ve never really seen the need for one, even if I did grow up being ferried to school and everywhere else in the family car driven by Pop or the family driver.

Well, sometimes the car and driver were not available as Pop often used them for work. So thanks to Mama, I did learn how to use public transport. As a child in the late ’70s, we would often take a bus (no air conditioning back then, folks!) to go shopping at Zurbaran, or to my Pop’s office on San Marcelino Street in Manila to play tennis, before checking out the new goodies at Rustan’s, which was just a couple of blocks down that road. Of course, this was a time when the Metro was still pretty clean, and traffic was not yet the nightmare that it has become.

In the ’80s I rode the jeepney from Del Monte Avenue in Quezon City—just a five-minute walk from where the family used to live—to De La Salle University on Taft Avenue in Manila for my college classes. And the ride took a mere 30 minutes!

So you can say I’m pretty much “self-sufficient” in terms of moving around the Metro—and having a boyfriend with a car is just one of those bonuses of being in a relationship...ut not a necessity. To this day, I generally travel around in cabs—I am a long-time suki at R&E—or via rail. (When traveling by way of the MRT, it helps to be in a New York state of mind.)

But since my Pop passed away last year, I’ve been saddled with his car. It is in dealing with this monstrosity that I find myself at a loss and sometimes missing having a man. I just don’t understand cars or how they work.

When I’m in traffic, I’m the one who’ll say, “That’s a cute red car,” when men would probably remark, “That’s a fierce Jag” before proceeding to discuss and dissect the thing for its speed, maneuverability, etc. I can discuss with men rather exhaustively why a Mac is better than the PC, but my brain will automatically switch off when talk turns to comparing a Honda with a Toyota. To me, a car is a car is a car.

My friends have been egging me to use Pop’s car, saying that because I’m malakas ang loob, I can do it. Some of them think I’m afraid to drive, which is not the case. I even have two A1 driving certificates and a current driver’s license to prove I can drive. I just don’t like manual transmission. It is tedious to shift gears, not to mention look for a parking slot. I would rather drive an automatic, and I’m toying with the idea of buying one just to drive Mama around. Personally, I don’t need it. Why would I want to stress myself sitting in a traffic jam, or worrying that when I come out of the mall my car would no longer be where I had parked it?

And now Pop’s car has died on us from lack of use. My sister’s driver, who first took a look at it, said it was the battery. But when he tested it, the battery worked fine on his car. Then I find out the car doesn’t have a carburetor like most cars, but a fuel-injection system (not that I know what a carburetor even looks like). I mean WTF?!?! What the hell does a fuel-injection system look like?

So our electrician-cum-mechanic discerned, with some divine intervention I suppose, that the fuel pump was not working daw. He dismantled it for us to bring to the car dealer where Pop had bought the car. I had enough sense to ask the sales guy there to have the thing checked first to see if it’s actually working or not, before dropping P8,500 in the car dealer’s cash register for a new one.

When the sales guy returned, he said it might not be the fuel pump after all, as it was working okay. He had the general look of pity of most men talking to women who don’t know cars. He said something else might be wrong with the car that activates the pump to bring fuel to the engine. I could hear him speaking but my eyes glazed over, and I couldn’t focus on what he was saying. Sigh. I could really use a boyfriend right now.

So now I’m waiting around for another friend’s mechanic to come around to really get a good look at that blasted car. I will probably end up agreeing with everything the mechanic says, and buy whatever he wants me to buy for the car, because I wouldn’t have a clue about anything coming from his mouth anyway. I can only hope that this mechanic would have more credibility than our electrician, as he is trusted by a guy-friend who is into the whole car thing.

Sure, I enjoy being a girl, but there are just days when I realize that I can’t do everything.

***(Boyfriend applications will be accepted at stella_arnaldo@hotmail.com. You must be at least 18 years old to apply. This is a short-term gig...until the damned car gets fixed.)

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Photo from BM.)


VRG said...

Ang mga lesbiana with mechanical aptitude - puede rin mag-apply?

Stella Arnaldo said...

Hahaha! Sira! Bakeeet? Lesbiana ka na ngayon?