I'd put it off long enough. It was time to sit my ten year old son down and have The Talk with him. You know, the talk all caring, Jewish fathers must have with their sons to prepare them for one of life’s most sensitive but important topics. This was a topic a young boy definitely did not want to hear about from his mother; not that she knew much about it.
Poor, innocent Joey -- he didn't suspect a thing. He even looked too young for this information. He looked so sweet, so trusting; I dreaded the prospect of what I had to do, but if he didn't hear it from me, he'd only hear it on the streets. No, it was time. And I decided it was best to cut the tension by having The Talk with him while we were doing some fun, innocent activity. So I took him to the same place my father took me when he had The Talk with me -- to the bowling alley. As we began putting on our bowling shoes, I began the awkward conversation. I began to inform my own precious son about -- auto mechanics.
Me: Joey, do you know what an auto mechanic is?
Joey: The guy who fixes cars?
Me: Good! You're a very smart boy.
(JOEY LOOKS TO THE HEAVENS)
Me: And why does he fix the car?
Joey: Because you pay him?
Joey:It’s his job?
Joey: He likes to?
Me: Joey, the basic difference between an auto mechanic and Jewish men is that auto mechanics know everything about cars and we know nothing.
The basic difference between an auto mechanic and Jewish men is that auto mechanics know everything about cars and we know nothing.
Joey: Couldn't we learn?
Me: It would take a very long time. A car has over 700 billion parts. An auto mechanic knows what each one does, how to replace it when it breaks, and how to triple the charge for each part.
Joey: Wow, what a neat job!
Me: Do you know what my job is?
Joey: Yeah, a writer. (YAWNS) Tell me more about auto mechanics. I might want to become one.
Me: (LAUGHS) Don’t be silly, Joey. There are no Jewish auto mechanics and there never will be.
Joey: Oh. Okay.
Me: But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn about them, Joey. And learn how to deal with them. For example, there are certain phrases that all auto mechanics use. Phrases like, "I don't like the sound of that," "Yikes, I've never seen that before," and "You're lucky it didn't blow up on you."
Joey: I don't get it.
Me: They all mean, "Take out your checkbook; I'll tell you when to stop writing."
Joey: How do you know if their price is fair?
Me: Ah. Excellent question. You don't. You never do. You have to trust them. You're completely at their mercy. They could have done the damage themselves and you'd never know. It's not fair. It's not fair, I tell you. It's just not fair. (BEGINS TO WEEP)
Joey: Come on, Dad. Cheer up. It can't be that bad.
Me: (CHOKING BACK SOBS) It's worse! I took my car in for what the mechanic estimated would be a $600 transmission job. Ended up costing me $1700! (BURSTS INTO TEARS) $1700, Joey! Nearly three times the estimate!
Me: Apparently, the estimate didn't include the parts. It was just for the labor. Then, of course, they found another problem. They always find another problem. And it's always worse and more expensive than the one you had in the first place. It just never ends. (GENTLY WEEPING)
Joey: (PATTING MY BACK) Come on, Dad, it'll be okay... But why are you telling me all this? I'm just ten years old.
Me: I want you to know. This is just one of the things in the adult world.
Joey: You mean there are other things this bad that I'll have to think about when I'm your age?
Me: Lots of them. Some not so bad, some this bad, some worse.
Joey: Are there any good parts about getting older?
Me: (THINKS FOR A BIT)
Me: Oh, I'm sorry. Of course there are, son. It's just that sometimes they're spaced so far apart, it gets hard to remember them.
Joey: Hey, dad? Even though I’m Jewish, what if I studied really hard to become an auto mechanic and learned what all those parts are? Then I could fix your car for free!
Me: You would do that for me?
Joey: Well, maybe not completely for free. But I'd give you a nice discount.
Me: I would like that.
Joey: Or, I could be a doctor and fix your body for a discount. Because when you get older, a lot of things start going wrong with your body.
Me: Yeah? Where'd you hear that?
Joey: I was talking to our school janitor, Wally. He just had a prostate operation and was telling me to enjoy my good health while I still can. And he has something called Shingles. And a lazy eye.
Me: Son, you're going to have many, many years of wonderful health.
Joey: And then my body will start to fall apart?
Me: Not if you take good care of it.
Joey: Are you taking good care of your car?
Me: I try to.
Joey: Maybe if you took better care of it, it wouldn't have so many problems.
Me: I'll keep that in mind.
Joey: I'm sorry the car mechanics make you so sad.
Me: Me, too, son. Thanks.
Joey: (PAUSE) Dad, are we ever going to talk about love?
Me: (PAUSE) Sure. Sometime. Maybe when I get my car problems straightened out.