The Can-You-Fix-It Test
Disassembled Motorcycle Engine
We call my dad the Old Bear for a number of reasons. You know, like the old bears in the zoos that may look like a bear and may even growl and grumble like one but pose little real threat. My sister and I both had the weird idea that we would buy a motorcycle between us, sharing the cost and the ownership. Never mind the fact that those types of arrangements never work; we had visions of Harleys varooming and revving through our heads. We had amnesia when it came to every sitcom that dealt with that very topic. We were high on gas fumes and the call of the open road.
My sister, just a little more reluctant than me to approach the Old Bear for any purpose pushed me toward him; apparently I was about to become the mouthpiece, the spokeschick, if you will. I turned and gave her an icy little glare and gave Dad what I hoped was a hopeful but completely mature, I-know-what-I-am-doing kind of smile. He laid down his paper and smiled back; ugh, this was not going to be all that pleasant. After all, the Bear was now looking at me with his intense, I-see-through-all-bull blue eyes and sis was already backing off. I could feel the sudden void behind me. Damn her! She was going to bolt!
Squaring my shoulders, I looked at the Bear and I announced, not asked, but announced that I, well, we, were going to buy a used, a slightly used Harley. We had the money for the bike. We had the money for the insurance. We had a schedule written out for who had the bike and when. The only thing we needed from him was a ride over there to pick it up and of course, permission to store our bike in his garage. Finished with my focused and mostly breathless proclamation, I sat back and watched the Old Bear’s face for the first sign of dissent.
He did not say no. at least not right out. He did not point out how these arrangements never work, nor did he cite any of the dozens of sitcoms that proved the point in sharply written zingers and one-liners, accompanied by canned laughter and musical soundtrack. What he did say was this: “Can you fix it?” And suddenly I realized that all of our preparation, our rehearsal of this moment might have all been for nothing. We had forgotten the can-you-fix-it test, the test that determined if we could get anything he deemed not a necessity.
From bikes to puppies to even a tattoo, dad asked that question for everything. Asked and answered about the lawn mower (his, not ours): no, no, we cannot. Asked and answered about my bike, a ten-speed that I inexplicably called Tommy: yes, but not this one part. Smiling I looked at him, the man that I loved so dearly and said, with all sincerity, “Maybe.”