Saturday, February 2, 2008

Raising Cha Cha...

Raising Cha Cha was no easy feat. It was like starting with a spoiled meal and making it appealing without the advantage of different ingredients. First she had to be stripped of her old ways, before the new personality was to be revealed. I'm not sure the new Cha Cha was ever exposed completely, but this is one of the events that took place in the making of this person.
It was 1988 and Cha Cha had finally achieved passing the driver's license test, although I was warned to keep an eye on her by the inspector. Cha Cha had taken the test several times and charmed the inspector to get him to pass her. He even told me that he felt sorry for her.
All of the girls that Cha Cha hung out with, had mini-trucks. The Nissans and Toyotas were the most popular. Being in the car business made finding her one a little easier. I got her a 1984 Nissan with pretty low mileage. I had it painted and a new interior installed and checked out by my mechanic for things like leaks and brakes and timing belt. It was in almost perfect condition when she first liad eyes on it. In addition, I personally pinstriped it with the wide one in tape and created a graphic on the sides that I was personally proud of, when it was finished. Cha Cha was just thrilled with it. Frankly, I thought with such a nice truck, that she may get a job, but that never happened...
When Cha Cha's real father passed away, he left her a small inheritance and with that money, she decided that charm school was to be in her future. Cha Cha was what you might call a little on the clumsy side and learning to walk across the floor with a book balanced on her head, certainly would not hurt. She felt that $800 for what I called "Grace Lessons" was a good idea and went forward with it.
One Saturday morning, we were sleeping in and heard a tap, tap, tap on our bedroom door. It was Cha Cha! Her truck just died and she can't get it restarted, can she take her mother's car to Grace School? Rather than getting up and driving half blind to her school, we agreed to let her use the car.
About 30 minutes later, the doorbell rang and it was a neighbor. She was there to advise me that Cha Cha's truck was blocking the road. I immediately went out there and there was her truck parked sideways in the road and traffic was driving through my front lawn to get around it. Not only that, she left the keys in the ignition and the truck in neutral without the brake on. See what I mean about Cha Cha?
She was right, it wouldn't start and I pushed it up into the driveway and began to inspect it. Back then, when a vehicle wouldn't start, the first thing you do is check to see if it's got gas. It had a half a tank. Vehicles had carburetors then and I sprayed WD-40 into the bowl and tried it again and it fired right up, indicating the fuel pump wasn't operating properly. I got dressed and headed out to the auto parts store for a new fuel pump. Frankly, I'm not a mechanic, but replacing a fuel pump looked pretty easy. I took home my new fuel pump and installed the new one and tried it again........... Nothing, it still wouldn't start! I figured the "new" fuel pump was defective or the installer was and went back to the auto parts store for a different one. I installed the new fuel pump, AKA pump number 3 and it still wouldn't start.
Right around this time, Cha Cha pulled up and nodded hello as she was walking into the house. I stood there completely covered with grease and dirt, emotionally drained, thinking about having the truck towed to my mechanic to get it fixed, when I yelled out, "When was the last time you put gas in this truck"? I was thinking that perhaps he had bought gas at some place that no one ever heard of and it was just "bad gas". This was Cha Cha's answer... "I never put gas in it, it's never needed gas in the 2 weeks I've had it, the needle always stays right at 1/2" and she continued into the house!
With my head down and my blood pressure rising, I dropped my head and stared at my shoes for about 3 full minutes as the anger subsided and I went for the gas can...

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