Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dumbest Thing I Ever Said

In 1966 I owned an old, decrepit Chevrolet Corvair, a small American car with the engine in the rear. It was not a good car. Evidently, it was either too old or previous owners had never taken care of it properly. But I had bought it for very little money, which had been my objective.

This car's major problem was that it burned more oil than gasoline. I used to pull into gas stations and quip: “Fill the oil and check the gas.”

I had a theory that this engine was so clogged up with gunk that if it ever got cleaned it would leak ALL the oil directly into the cylinders and totally smoke out the surrounding twenty yards. So I would fill the oil with a very specific type.

One day I pulled into a gas station and asked the attendant (1966, remember?) for a quart of non-lubricating oil. I had not realized what I said so I really wondered when he looked at me VERY strangely and asked: “What kind of oil?”


Holding back his snickering, he turned to the other attendant in the garage and shouted as loudly as he could: “Hey, Joe! We got a guy here that wants non-lubricating oil!”

Only then did I realized what I had asked for. I leaned against the car’s roof and tried to hide my face with my arms. I’m sure I was quite red when I finally turned back to the attendant and corrected myself. “Oh, shit! I meant to say non-detergent oil. What the hell was I thinking?”

But the damage was done. I got the oil I wanted, but I suspect those attendants are still joking about me, and that all of Newport, Rhode Island, knows that there’s a guy out there that once ordered non-lubricating oil!