Parental Regret

Most parents of young children fear missing their babies’ first steps and first words. Even though I am (happily) childless, I completely understand the desire to witness the landmark moments in a child’s life. Until last night, however, I could only imagine the pit of despair that comes when a proud parent misses such an event.

You see, I’m one of those people who bestows child status on his pets. My dogs, Otis and Zoe, don’t have full rights—we strictly enforce a 10 p.m. curfew—but they’re largely doted upon like infants. So imagine my disappointment when Michele told me just before bed that I missed one of those once-in-a-lifetime, wish-I-had-video moments earlier in the day.

While cleaning the area beneath his tail nub, Otis audibly farted and then coughed. How could I have missed it? That moment may well be the funniest thing to ever happen within the walls of our 57-year-old home, and I wasn’t there. Ever since Michele broke the news to me, I keep replaying the scene in my head, imagining what it must have been like.

Here’s the sad part: If a parent misses his kid’s first word, he’ll probably get to hear a reasonable facsimile within a day or two. Within a couple months, he’ll wish the brat was a mute. But the chances of a repeat performance from Otis are miniscule. Sure, I’ll see him lick his ass plenty of times, and I have no doubts I’ll hear him fart within the next 24 hours. Unfortunately, I think I missed the one occasion when these two events are executed together and topped off with a cough for the canine comedy trifecta.

I missed it.

I can’t believe I missed it.

Buying Things I Never Wanted

I guess I had a pretty lucky run. In the 21 years since I began driving, I never had to pay more than about $800 for a car repair. Until now.

On the way home from a one-night rock ‘n’ roll road trip to see Green Day in Omaha last week, my beloved LeSabre began acting strangely. As we pulled into a gas station somewhere in the middle of Iowa, the car jerked a little as I was accelerating. It happened again as I was merging onto the freeway after refueling. I didn’t think much of it.

Unfortunately, when we hit stop-and-go traffic about an hour from home, the problem became more pronounced. Each time I accelerated, the car jolted us a bit. I began to silently worry we wouldn’t make it home without a stall. Just a few blocks from home, the service engine light clicked on, but we made it.

After unloading the cooler and our bags, I headed to my usual mechanic to check out the problem. By this point, I assumed the problem was transmission-related, as the jerkiness seemed to occur when the car was shifting gears. Sure enough, when the mechanic checked the diagnostic code, it pinpointed a problem with the torque converter clutch, which is apparently part of the transmission. He directed me to a different garage, which specializes in transmissions. Following a more thorough examination, the transmission shop determined the tranny has an internal leak and gave me the bad news: Fixing it requires a complete overhaul, estimated at $2,000. Lucky me.

The LeSabre has only 60,000 miles and isn’t even paid off yet, so there wasn’t a question whether I would shell out the money. What really bothers me about a $2,000 car repair bill is that I won’t have anything to show for my investment. We’re having a new garage door installed in a week or so. While I’m not thrilled about spending $1,200 to replace my old, busted door, at least I’ll have a nice new door to show for the money.

Would it be weird to ask the guys at the transmission shop to give me the bad transmission parts in a big jar of formaldehyde?