Monday, September 29, 2014

Frosting Hubby's Nuts (and other questionable phrases)

Arizona (tosses me a pack of extra-long zip ties): Use these. Get 'em good and tight.

Me (eyeballs him): You got anyplace special in mind?

Arizona: Let's go with the wiring for starters. (*wink*)

You see, on this past bright, beautiful Sunday, hubby and I took the ferry over to Long Island to work on his boat trailer, in preparation for bringing his small-but-seaworthy Kit-Kat (named after his favorite food) over to our side of the sound for the occasional fishing junket next year. Which meant spending the day at The Shop.

The towering steel building (it always sounds capitalized when the clan talks about it) resides in the back yard of an uncle's property, and is packed full of ruthlessly organized tools, spare parts and equipment. It's also a veritable archaeological record of the vocations and avocations of three or four generations of males, most of whom have stayed local and worked at one point or another as contractors, handymen, welders, sailmakers and marina guys.

In the back of beyond, there are a few pieces of construction equipment from the contracting business that The Admiral (Arizona's grandfather, a nickname, not an official rank) had with his father, and the flat-bottomed boat that he used for his beloved clamming and oystering runs. Closer to the front are parts to The Admiral's current boat, which he still (at almost 91) loves taking out fishing.

The next layer belongs to Arizona's uncles, who use The Shop most regularly--working on everything from ice boats to a classic Chevy that's mid-renovation and lovingly swathed in layers of protective cloth. And in the back, mothballed cars from the family's racing days, looking like decommissioned X-wing fighters, their chest-wide tires racked on the walls, so slick it's hard for me to imagine them staying on the track. (Then again, I guess the didn't, always.)

There are traces of Arizona and his brother, too, in the mountain bike wheelsets hung on the walls and the familiar handwriting on this box or that, and the utter familiarity with which my hubby opens up the huge accordion door so we can get to work.

Okay, technically it's more so he can get to work and I can dig up a folding chair and hang out, working idly on my computer until he needs me for a "here, hold this" or "can you find me a..." moment. But it's a beautiful day, the view is gorgeous (a nursery in the middle distance, with all the fall mums coming into bloom) and I've got a pint of late-season strawberries at my feet. Over the course of the day, all three uncles will put in appearances at The Shop, and we'll visit a little with The Admiral before we catch the ferry home. What could be better?

The Shop seems like a living thing to me, with the big compressor cycling on at odd moments and air hissing out from the tank in between. It's the sort of strong family center that I've never had before, and that I know Arizona cherishes. And it's the scene for plenty of 'let's see how a romance writer and her similarly-wired hubby can make almost anything sound dirty' conversations. To whit:

Arizona (hands me a tube of beige spooge): You're in charge of lubrication.

Me: Always.

Arizona (indicates the wheel lugs): Slick them up good, all the way from the shaft to the shoulders.

Me (snorts): On it. Are you in charge of screwing?

Arizona: You bet.

(We get the tire mounted in companionable amusement.)

Arizona: Okay, now put a blob of grease on each of the nuts.

Me: Like totally cover them?

Arizona: Yep. The tires'll be going in the salt water. We'll rinse 'em off after we use the trailer, of course, but anything we can do to protect the metal--especially where there's steel--is a good thing.

Me: Gotcha. (Gets to work. Discovers that it's tougher than you'd think to get the spooge to stick to the sides of the hex-headed nuts and go down into the cracks. Finally comes up with a system.) Oh, it's like frosting a really tiny cake that's too warm for the icing to stick. Why didn't you say so?

Arizona: Not the first metaphor that would've come to my mind.

Me: What is?

Arizona: Grease my nuts, baby.

Me: That's not a metaphor.

Arizona: Maybe not, but it gets the point across!

And with that ... happy Monday, ReaderFriends. I wish you calm seas, sunny skies, and greasy nuts!

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