Car Talk

John Christian Hopkins

I have been thinking about writing an autobiography, when I realized I didn’t know enough about autos.

I’m just not a car person, you see. I don’t have any particular interest in what kind of car I drive. If it starts when I put the key in the ignition, it’s a good car. If it doesn’t, it’s bad.

That’s why it seems funny that my new favorite radio show is NPR’s “Car Talk.” But I find myself eagerly awaiting Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, each week. Those two guys are funny and I find myself learning things no matter I hard I try to resist.

To show you how little I know about cars, the first time I heard someone mention Lamborghini, I asked if it came in Alfredo or tomato sauce. I had to know because I was thinking of ordering it, but I’m lactose intolerant. (Though I can’t pronounce it, the Navajo word for being lactose essentially means “milk hates me.”)

I remember running out of gas once (okay, more than once!) and my older brother, Eddy, came to my rescue. It was a cold winter day and he hurried along, bringing a can of gas; and dumped some in the tank and—as I later found out—put a little in the carburetor. Eddy got inside the car and started it up, while I remained standing in the front.

“Everything look okay?” Eddy asked.

“Yup,” I assured him confidently. Then, curiosity getting the better of me, I asked, “Is the engine supposed to be on fire?”

Eddy jumped out of the car and threw handfuls of snow on the flames.

If only I’d discovered “Car Talk” back then; I might have known that a car engine is not supposed to be flammable!

Another thing that Click and Clack might have saved me from was a verbal tongue lashing from my Dad. One day Dad informed me that my tires were bald and dangerous (like Sean Connery, I guess).

“Go out and measure how much tread you have,” he told me.

I had no idea what he meant by tread, but I went outside and measured from the center of the hubcap to the edge of the tire. When I held my hands apart to show Dad how much tread I had left, he gave me an exasperated look.

“You damn fool, army tanks don’t have that much tread!”

Who knew?

And I won’t even tell you what happened the first time a girlfriend asked me if I could teach her to handle a stick …

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Car Talk Copyright © 2014 by John Christian Hopkins. All Rights Reserved.

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