Have you ever sat amongst people having a glorious conversation about a topic you know absolutely nothing about? Awkward, isn’t it?
It’s not so bad if you can politely excuse yourself from the situation by dribbling some chip dip on your tie or pretending you spotted a long lost friend at the buffet table.
But what if you’re trapped in assigned seats? Like at a wedding reception? Or, in my case, at a baptism party? And I wasn’t just “among” them…I was between them.
The guy on my left was talking to the guy on my right about car engines, horsepower, and auto parts. Car Guy #1 would complain that his carbureter’s manifold gasket was misfiring the piston cranks (as best I can remember) and then Car Guy #2 would suggest that he look into the cylinder valve’s piston spring. Car Guy #1 would rejoice at the mechanical genius. And I just sat there pecking at my Rosemary Chicken feeling stupid.
It was all Greek to me. My knowledge of car care ends at the gas cap. I’m the guy you see at the repair shop trying to imitate problematic engine sounds as my repair bill soars because I clearly won’t know if I’m getting hosed.
I would have offered to switch seats with the engine aficionados but we were book-ended by half a dozen people on either side and the backs of our chairs were pressed up against the wall. We were packed in the banquet room like sardines. And I felt like the dumbest one in the can.
I silently wished that the conversation would shift to a topic that I could weigh in on because I could run circles around these guys if they asked me about W3C markup validation, CSS, or pixels. But no such luck. These were “real men” and I was but a lowly nerd scoring a free meal.
They did their best to include me in the conversation by asking what kind of engine my car had but probably realized I was hopeless when I responded with “it’s a big one”. Car Guy #1 blindsided me with, “Is it 3.2 Liter or 3.8 Liter?”. Then Car Guy #2 piped in with “Do you know the horsepower rating?”.
I remembered seeing a “3” on the engine somewhere when I was adding windshield washer fluid but that was as much as I knew. To dazzle them I said it was a 3.8.
“Oh, niiiiice”, they collectively said.
I was in. I was now Car Guy #3.
Until they started in on HEMI’s.
Let me share just how much I know about HEMI’s.
1. They go in cars and trucks. Or is it just trucks? I’m actually not too sure.
2. I think Dodge makes them.
3. They start with the letter H.
4. There was a funny commercial with some hick shouting, “Is that a HEMI?”
5. Hearing the word “HEMI” makes grown men want to hug.
It was at this point that I just bowed out of the conversation and went back to my chicken. My reign as Car Guy #3 was over as quickly as it started. They’d lean forward if I tipped my head back to take a drink and they’d lean back if I hunched over my plate to take a bite. Talking about HEMI’s all the while.
They’d say something like, “I know the Dodge 5.7 liter V-8 can crank out 345 horsepower at 5400 rpm but you need to worry about combustion chamber wear.”
And I’d hear, “I know the Dodge 5.7 blibbity blab 345 blabbity bloo but you need to…”
As I clearly state on my Meet Me page, I’m not a Car Guy. Never have been. Never will be. I suppose I shall remain comfortable in my own skin and accept the fact that I can’t know everything about everything. As much as I’d love to. But, if you are looking for professional knowledge on auto parts and accessories, you can always visit www.dearbornclassics.com.
And next time, I’ll pick my seat more carefully. Or at least bring along a mechanic as my date.