Jeff Ford
November 1, 2001

Explanations can be tough, even for a seasoned veteran such as me. Often I'll wax poetic to Carla about Mustangs. I'll spend endless minutes in deep conversation before I notice she has either tuned me out and is answering with those polite Uh-huhs and Mmmms or, worse, starts talking about her shopping trip; where's the interest in that?

Most of the time when I wear her down and make her pay attention, I'm sure all she hears is "So, the Floover valve attaches to the left ventricle ball socket, then flows through the muffler bearing to the flavel valve, and you should never cross the flavel valve with the ventricle ball socket." Boy, what a mistake! Actually for Carla, it's more like, Blah, blah blah. Only I can't just say a whole paragraph of blahs; that wouldn't be very interesting to those who know what a muffler bearing is (or isn't). It's not that she doesn't care, it's just that her primary interests aren't mechanical. As inclinations go, she's interested in the following: clothes, shoes, nice dinners, and so on. Interest in the internal combustion engine falls somewhere after dead dogs and garbage. That isn't to say she's uninterested in Mustangs. Carla knows what she likes, and she likes Shelbys, thank you. But the inner workings of the engine and what makes the thing go down the road? Nada.

At least that's what I thought.

Then the other day she kind of blindsided me. I won't say completely blindsided, but I'll say that her analogy made sense to both of us, which scared the mess out of me. The conversation was benign enough at first. We were driving to Tampa in mid-morning traffic and talking about hubby/wifely things when, in the rearview mirror, I saw a '68 Mustang hardtop slowly making better progress than we were. I waited until it was along side us, and in the middle of Carla's sentence, I yelled, "Mustang!" She jumped and gave me a scowl and I, of course, giggled. As the Mustang slipped through the traffic, I noticed black smoke coming from the tailpipes.

"Bet he's got a big old 750 carb trying to shovel gas into a 289. He'd do better with an small venturi Autolite 4100." I looked over at Carla, who was looking at me with a blank face. "Too much carburetor," I said in an impassive tone.

"Oh, so it's like an olive-skinned brunette trying to go blonde-it just doesn't go," she said as she looked at the back of the Mustang while it made its sooty way into Tampa. There was a wicked little smile on her face.

I stared at her for as long as the traffic would allow and tried to fathom where that came from. I was so consumed with the thought process that she had to warn me of the box van that was stopping in front of us.

"Right?" Now she was really smiling. As I thought about it, I smiled too. Yes, it made sense in some obtuse way. I suddenly had a thought: Carla could teach Mustang wives (widows?), who aren't car savvy, about how to parlay car speak into chick terms. A whole new cottage industry would be born.

Suddenly, I could see her in a class wearing coveralls and holding a pointer to a Mustang wearing too fat tires on the back. I would say something pithy like, "These tires are a P245/60-15 and the aspect ratio is all wrong; note the excess wheel that hangs out of the well in the back; this could cut a tire." Then Carla would say, "Big tires that stick out of the wheelwell is like trying to wear spandex when your toochie is too big. That, girls, is a fashion faux pas waiting to happen."

We could go national-do the Public Broadcasting circuit; it could be huge.