Of mice and men (or when you give a mouse a cookie)…

I call my husband’s truck “the mouse,” and now he does, too, at least every time he has to buy something for it. As per usual, he had bought the vehicle used, but only after carefully searching reviews and recommendations for trucks and then obsessively perusing the classified ads, interviewing umpteen owners of the advertised vehicles, and giving the short list of trucks that met his high standards some trial runs.

Once he makes a purchase, Steve goes over the vehicle with a fine-tooth comb (do mechanics have those?) — scanning the vehicle manual, the requisite owner’s maintenance records, the internet, and various forums to determine needed maintenance and repairs. And then he does those himself. After buying whichever supplies and tools necessary to do so. After viewing various YouTube tutorials. My husband is a physical therapist and only a shade tree mechanic but I trust him with my life — every time I get behind the wheel. (So far, so good.)

Along with the rave reviews for a Ford F150 is this ominous advice: Change the spark plugs after (so many) miles and pay a mechanic out the wazoo to do it for you. (That’s my translation.)

While Ford F150s get rave reviews, the spark plug issue does not.
While Ford F150s get rave reviews, the spark plug issue does not.

Of course, my husband did it himself. In July. In Florida. In the evenings after work. For days. I would come home from work to see my husband laying inside the engine of the big truck, contorting his body, slick with sweat and grease, definitely not waiting to greet me with a “welcome home” hug. (More accurately, I did not allow him to greet me with a hug. Yuck.) Of the eight spark plugs, only one came out easily. The others, as per my husband’s worst nightmare, had fused into their heads and refused to budge, unimpressed with Ford’s recommended cleaner and lubricant. Even with the also-recommended special tool, the plugs broke off inside their heads, which caused other complications, and basically drove a person to profanity. (I am not naming anyone.) Many specialty tools later, my husband finished the job and earned a badge of honor among car war heroes.

(This nightmare of a Ford F150 maintenance exercise might have been avoided had the manufacturer simply added a little lubricant to the spark plugs when inserted at the factory. Currently, my husband is changing the spark plugs in our Chevy Venture van, which includes unscrewing part of the engine to tilt it to then blindly access the back three plugs, and, of course, specialty tools plus shin guards to protect his arms from breakage… long story, and the van is not the mouse. But, again, had the manufacturer added some lube to the plugs in the factory, I could hug my husband.)

Car Talk bloggers discuss the sad story of spark plug changes.
Car Talk bloggers discuss the sad story of spark plug changes.

At this time, we were preparing for a vacation — and the truck was our intended means of transportation. My husband had the engine purring like a kitten, but it was time to accessorize. A top for the bed to keep the luggage dry in case of rain (a likely scenario in Florida in July). A rubber mat that would grip said luggage to prevent it from slip sliding all the way to vacation. A tailgate lock and key system (as Ford F150 tailgates are a prime target for thieves). (I am not kidding.) A tailgate bed extender for when my husband was hauling long pieces of wood (or super tall Christmas trees?). A bike rack that didn’t have to be removed to open the tailgate. A cart to carry a luggage from the truck to the condo. And, and, and…

When I began calling my husband’s truck “the mouse,” he had no idea why.

“Haven’t you ever read the story If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?” I asked, and then explained. “In the story, someone gives a mouse a cookie, then the mouse wants some milk, and then the mouse’s want/need leads to more and more and more.

“Like your truck.”

Now when my husband “needs” something for the truck, he simply says, “It’s for the mouse.”

Well, at least we got that settled.

NaBloPoMo_1115_465x287_THEMEPosts for NaBloPoMo 2015:

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  7. Of mice and men (or when you give a mouse a cookie)…

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