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The Five Day “Fifteen Minute Fix”

Just before it all goes wrong…
I’m not an expert mechanic, but I can do quite a bit, and have before.  There’s some things I’ve done so many times I could almost do it blind folded on certain cars.  Take out a manual transmission on a real-wheel sports car, replace the pressure plate and clutch, and put it back in?  Under 30 minutes if I’ve got two floor jacks to work with.  Replace a thermostat?  Under fifteen minutes easy.  
So I’m out at the farm, just getting done with feeding horses for Doc while he was in Kansas City (and gonna do it again next week) when Devvi txt’s me – her car is having problems overheating.  Doc just happens to be a couple minutes behind me – so he’s headed back to Wichita after noticing that I just fed, so I’m now relieved of farm duties for the next day – cool.
She lives in Cheney, and there’s no automotive stores, so we chat about it a bit, and she figures it’s the thermostat – she’s never had it replaced for as long as she owned the car.  So I offer to snag one at AutoZone to replace it.  Devvi actually could do it herself, but her tools are packed, and she’d have to have a ride into Wichita to pick one up.
Day 1:  I left my tools where?
I’ve always got a toolbox full o’ goodies, usually riding in the trunk of the car (and usually more than one toolbox in there.)  Mine was still in there from working on Erin’s car, though all the wrenches were still at Meredith and Lance’s house.  No biggie – a socket set it more appropriate for this job anyways.
I had just enough time to pick up the thermostat before AutoZone closed, and headed out to Cheney.  Get there, unpack my tools… any of the following items would work for this job:
Socket Set
Cresent Wrench
Open Ended Wrenches
I had a socket set, no problem.  Too bad the 1/4 inch adapter was missing!  Fuck, I had TWO socket sets with the same problem!  My Cresent was missing, and the open end wrenches were with Erin’s car. Fuck.
Problem is, she’s got church in the morning, and on top of that we’re supposed to meet up and get a couch, day bed, and mattress after she’s done at church.  An oddity occurs here – after AutoZone I had stopped by the house to grab something, and talked with Doc for a moment.  For no reason I can explain, I had commented that I might end up staying over there.  I had no plans of doing so, no expectation of doing so, and there was no logical reason why I would.  But yet, I had said it – driving to Cheney I scratched my head a bit about that.
Devvi and I talked, and I said “Well, I suppose if ya’ give me a pillow and a blanket, I can just sleep on the floor tonight and take ya’ll to church in the morning – there’s just enough boxes moved in the living room to make that possible.”
She said there was no reason for that – I’m welcome to sleep in bed with her.  
Hm.  I said in my last blog that it would probably end up being another two years before I had the opportunity to end up in bed with someone again.  OK, so, I’m wrong on that one.  We ended up chatting until about 5 AM in bed, talking about all manner of things, and causing ourselves to be a bit sleep deprived the next day.
Day 2:  The Dyke
I’ve met and dealt with people from all sorts of alternative cultures ranging from BSDM folk to gays.  (Yeah, there’s a number of stories about BDSM culture I’ve yet to write about on here.  Long story, though less interesting that you’d expect – I’m not into BDSM myself.)  I figure for alternative lifestyle stuff there’s only two groups I’ve yet to spend any time dealing with – transexuals and dykes.  Most of my run ins with Dykes can be summed up with them giving me a dirty look for smiling or nodding at them (though not all of them.)  
Today, I’d get to see something entirely new – I’ve NEVER seem a woman litterally puff up like a man does when he’s around a woman he’s interested in, and there’s another guy nearby.  
Jay was a friend of Devvi’s who’s a Dyke, and who happens to have an interest in Devvi.  Problem is – Devvi doesn’t have any interest in Jay.  She had already told me about the fact that Jay was a bit jealous of me, because I spend so much time with her and we chat so often.  I hadn’t though much about it.
After much delay, I finally meet Jay (no shit, we had called ahead to say we were on our way, so she decideds to take a shower, thus making us wait on her.  Thanks, just drag my day out further.)
Devvi’s kids, Mark and Maddy, were also along for the ride.  So I had the Caddy with two kids, and Devvi gets stuck riding with Jay.  After every stop Devvi would catch me alone and comment on what Jay was saying, a lot of it being about how her and Devvi would be good together, bagging on her ex-girlfriend (really not a good idea – they may have broke up, but it doesn’t mean Devvi hates Michelle or anything like that), things like that.  So at least I had the fun part of dealing with the kids.
Oh, and I started the day in Cheney, West of Wichita. Then had to go to Derby, south of Wichita, then Maize, North of Wichita.  I ended up commenting “Shesh – is there anything in Andover we need?”, that way I’d hit all four directions around Wichita 🙂
To complicate things, it starts raining while we were in Derby, then really rains when we hit Maize.  Well, that’s not a good word for it.  Rainageddon would be a better term – I expected to see Noah somewhere around loading up animals.  I did course plotting for us (in this case, it was actually nessissary) taking us parallel to the storm until we had passed the wall cloud that had formed two tornadoes between us and Cheney!  Fortunately everything was tarped pretty well.
We all make it back to Cheney just fine, along with the load.  Jay managed to tear up Devvi’s front yard with her 4 x 4 (since she had never used in 4WD mode, she tried in in 2WD, got it stuck) and managed to hit Devvi’s porch with the truck.  Twice (it takes a special skill to hit something with a truck, then decide to back up and do it again.  Special skill as in the skills that get you a ride on the short bus to school.)  
This whole time Jay is taking charge of everything.  No real problem to me – it’s her truck, and the load is her responsibility, IMO.  After we’re done unloading the truck, she’s still doing it, and managed to make Devvi just a bit aggravated when I mentioned the car and Jay starts talking about how she’s going to fix it, or telling me how I’m going to do it with her, etc.  ANYTHING that’s said becomes a matter of how she knows it better, she can do it better, all that.  I’ve got no problem with that, except most of the time when I asked her questions she didn’t know jack shit.  *SIGH*  She seemed like a nice enough gal (if a but dumb), but watching her puff up every chance she got to try and prove she was more man than me was just sad and funny at the same time.
(Quick aside – Heather had many good laughs at my expense when I was recanting the story of the broken car to Heather and Nick, commenting that Jay must have been jealous of some of my more manly attributes.  Namely my bald spot and beer gut.  Mean, Heather, just mean! 🙂
Devvi invites both of us to have supper there (Devvi fed me the night before too, of course), and we all chat.  If Devvi and I started chatting about something exclusive to us (IE, a piece of history, something we did the other day together, etc.) Jay would just jump in the middle of it – she’d always find an angle.  Funny part was, I was actively trying not to discuss things that might make the situation more uneasy for Jay (and later apologized to Devvi for being so edited and a bit “off” from my usual self.)
It hits me after supper… I had planned on getting on the roof and fixing three shingles.  Doc had brought home the ladder for me, but I hadn’t managed to get up there yet.  The leak is right above my water bed, which means it’s fucking soaked by now.  Crap.  Devvi says no problem, just stay the night.
Yeah, it took forever for Jay to leave after she heard that.  Devvi commented about how tired she was, about needing to go to bed, all the usual cues – musta took an hour of that for Jay to get the hint.
So day two is a waste when it comes to the car – but at least we got the furniture there for her.
We stay up too long talking (again) and finally go to bed, vowing to get to sleep.  About 3 AM we just barely start to wind down.  
Now, I have a sort of set of “intimacy rules” in play here.  Sleeping in the same bed is OK, and being scrunched up against each other?  No problem.  But there’s this line not to be crossed – doing something like wrapping my arms around her would be out of the question.  Not her rules – mine.  To me, that starts getting into personal space issues and is reserved for situations where either sex or relationships are involved.  I had commented before that I apologize if I end up curled up to her in the middle of the night – she told me she didn’t mind, but both times we had slept together I had made sure to respect that line I had drawn.
We were starting to finally get quiet when the events of the past couple of weeks with Devvi started running through my head.  “Hey, you still awake to have a short conversation about something?”  “Sure, what’s up?”
“You joked about the idea of a relationship of convenience, and I shot the joke down pretty quick.  I’m thinking maybe that’s not such a bad idea.”
We talked about it for a bit – a surprisingly short conversation really.  We bounced it back and forth a bit, and commented on an observation: we were already starting to act like we were headed that sort of direction.
She paused at that.  “I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I like the direction things are going.”
That closed the conversation, and we snuggled up and started talking some more about other things (some of it filling in some gaps concerning her sexual orientation, and she also asked me if I wanted her to go to my 20th Reunion with me – sure, why not, having a cute, intelligent gal on my arm never hurts).  We ended the night snuggled up with my arm around around her, and her hand on mine.
Day 3:  Oh you have GOT to be fucking kidding me.
Day 3 started nicer than any Monday I’ve experience in… well, I have no idea how long.  She got up and got the kids off to school in the morning, and I woke up and just kind of lounged around in bed – I wasn’t in a big hurry yet.  After the kids left, she came back to bed and fell asleep with my arm around her and her head on my shoulder.  OK, that’s like the height of perfect comfort for me – there’s no thing in this world more comfortable than a woman asleep on my shoulder (Well, sort of – it’s an emotional comfort, not a physical one.  My arm ends up falling asleep because of the torn cartilage, but there’s no way in hell I’d move it!)  I didn’t stay conscious very long.
But it’s a Monday, and one absolute of Mondays seems to be that my phone shall ring with something to disrupt my day.  In this case it was Doc, needing me to pick him up from an appointment.  About two minutes after I got off the phone, the school called Devvi telling her that Mark was acting up.  It seems that at 10 AM the universe had decided that we both had enough of this lounging around thing, and kicked us out of bed.  
I head back for Wichita, and Devvi ends up having to take Mark out of school for the day (with no car).  I get the tools I need (an adapter was all I needed, but I ended up having to buy a $9 socket set to get it, which I’m leaving in Devvi’s car at the moment in case of emergencies until she gets her toolbox unpacked).  About 6 I hit Devvi’s house, and start in again – no rain this time, so I can get down to business.
It takes a bit to get things dissasembled to the point where had room to work on the thermostat, but no biggie.  Pull the first bolt – a little tight, but not too bad.  Go to pull the second bolt, and the head snapped off of it. Oh. Shit.
Worse, I get to looking at the first bolt, and realize – fuck, it’s broke too, it had decided to break halfway through the bolt instead of at the head like it’s brother did.  Fuck me.  That’s bad.
I end up staying for supper with Devvi and the kids, and we get to chatting about what I’m going to do – no big thing, I’m going to grab an ez-out and some anti-seize, and pull the old bolts.  It’s the first time I’ve ever had on snap on a thermostat housing, but not the first time I’ve had a bolt snap that I had to remove. 
We end up staying up until about 3 AM chatting before I finally head home.
Day 4:  Wait… what?
On day 4 I came loaded for bear.  I figured if on the off chance I couldn’t get the ez-out to work, I’d drill it out and tap it, so I bought two new bolts for it.  On top of that, I hedged my bets – I also grabbed some undersized bolts, and some silicone sealant.  Worst come to worst, I could always just drill it out, ignore taping it, and just put a bolt and nut through there instead of being threaded in the housing like the original.
That ended up being some good thinking on my part.
After soaking the damned thing with anti-seize and waiting, the ez-out snapped inside of the bolt.  Oh, hell, that’s REALLY not good.  It’s one thing if the ez-out would have snapped and fll out.  But it wedged it’s self in there good and tight, having broke just the tip.  Those things are tougher than most drill bits are.   Luck was with me – after an hour of futzing with it, I managed to get it out, and started in on just plain ol’ drilling that old bolt out.  
Long story short, after two more hours, it worked.  Not perfect, but worked (and just to make sure, I threw a little extra silicone sealant in there incase there was any extra void.
Great.  Thermostat is replaced.  But that’s not actually the problem.  What she didn’t see was that near the heater core there’s a brass coupling that had gone bad (which, by the way, looked completely out of place.  I had to play “Name that Part” at O’Rilley’s to find out exactly what it was, and aparently it fails often.)  
Stick around until about 2 AM chatting again, until we finally are too damned tired to talk, and I head home.
Day 5:  FINALLY!
Day 5 was simple – grab part from O’Rilley’s, install part.  Well, except that bit where I had to do an oil change on the car, since to physically remove and install a new one require removing the oil filter!  I never mentioned it, but, it’s a 1986 Honda Accord.  My arms are covered in small bruises because there’s just not enough clearance to work on anything.
It went perfect though – after putting it all back together, no more problems!
So, that’s how it took 5 days to do a 15 minute thermostat fix.  Jesus H. Christ on a stick!
What Next?
So what about that whole part where we curled up and considered the idea of some sort of relationship?  She did say she liked the direction things were going, right?
After much thought, I realize it’s not going to go anywhere.  Sure, we’ll continue to pal around (I was over there until 3 AM again on Friday night), and we’ve got events we’re planning on going to together (like Kaida’s birthday – hehe, she’ll get to meet some of the ex-in-laws that I still consider to be family.  Too bad Heather probably isn’t going to be there – I’d actually like Devvi to meet Heather sometime.)  Her and I have a lot in common – hell, I nearly fell out of my chair when I mentioned something about Quantum Physics and we started chatting about some of the theories!
And we’ve got a few quirks in common.  While helping her move some boxes at her house, she pulled out the interesting things from back when she worked at Sony as an Everquest GM (yes, she’s a game geek) – it was this cool wall hanging article about significant others and video games, told from the perspective of a female reporter who’s husband got her into the game.  Was an interesting read, and it wasn’t like framed – it was some sort of lucite sort of setup.  The next day we were talking about various things we like and dislike in relationships, and I started asking about how she felt about little gifts type things.  Loves ’em, but also likes to give them – the EQ wallhanging was something she was considering giving me, but wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it, so she ended up just passing on it.
On the last day of car repair she called and told me about her day – Mark had to be taken out of school again, plus it was exactly one month since her and Michelle had broke up, and to top it off it was also the anniversary of her abusive marrage.  A crap sandwich of a day.  
So I stopped at Walmart and purchased less than $20 worth of items, and thought out a quick delivery for it on my way to her house.  When I got there with the bag o’ stuff, I told her I got her a few things – hazlenut coffee creamer (she takes her coffee with lots of creamer), which made her smile.  Then I pulled out the bag of pretzles, her favorite midnight snack (and she got an even bigger smile) – but I pointed out that one of the problems with having a bad day is just filling up with empty calories without any satisfaction or improvement, so I got her something to really improve her mood – Ferro Roche Dark Chocolates (they were on sale for $3 for a box of a dozen. Yes, I’m cheap, thanks. :-).  She got really excited at that.  Then I pointed out all of that stuff was just stuff that would disappear in a few days, consumed.  So I pulled out a Tinkerbell figurine I had found at Walmart, and her jaw dropped (an $8 item.  Yes, I’m still cheap 😉
Then I reached in the bag one more time, and said “But I realized all the stuff?  It’s not what you REALLY need on a day like this. In fact,” I turned the bag inside out dramatically, ” I couldn’t find anything you really needed.  Then I realized all you really need is a really big hug, someone to tell you it’s all going to be OK, and for someone to show they care.”  She ended up crying on my shoulder for about a minute after that.  Hey, I can do SOME things right sometimes.
Friday she stopped by my house on the way out of town to drop me off a present – a cobalt blue glass container for some of my stuff.  Hehe – well, at least we both pay attention to what each other’s likes are.  Kinda nice to get gifts, and to have such a strong reaction to giving them.
So in theory it all sounds cool.  That’s not reality.  The end result is she’s a lesbian.  And, well, I’m me – not exactly a prize catch in the first place.  Those two things are show stoppers for just about any chance at something developing.  We’ll end up in an area slightly between friends and dating – we’ll end up doing stuff together, but it won’t develop into anything.  
On the other hand, I also said I probably wouldn’t end up in the same bed with some gal again for quite a while, and ended up curled up to her the next week.  So who knows – I could be wrong, and I’d like to be.  But meanwhile unless something happens, it’s on my list of “not gonna happen.”
One side effect – ever since waking up on Monday, I’ve yet to have a good night’s sleep.  No idea why.  But I’ve seriously contemplated calling her up and saying “Hey hon – it looks like rain out.  Mind if I sleep over there?”  I’ll of course do it on a day that’s sunny and cloud free, just so she knows it’s a joke excuse 🙂

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