First Love

“And wuv, twu wuv….”   Some of you may recognize that famed Fudd-ian declaration by the clergyman in the wedding scene from that supremely silly masterpiece about the power of love, “The Princess Bride.”  As we approach yet another Valentine’s Day, it seems entirely appropriate that we take a few moments to reflect back to that singular moment when our heartstrings first struck a resounding chord, the heavens rolled back and angel choirs channeled something between the “Hallelujah” chorus and Lionel Richie, and we just knew that our lives would be forever changed.  You had found…true wuv…errr, love.

A word about love.  Actually several words.  Those Greeks had way too much extra time on their hands and sat around categorizing all sorts of love.  Agape we know, of course.  It’s what causes seemingly sane people to become missionaries, pack up their belongings and move to another part of the world.  We generally high-five Agape.  We name churches and bookstores after it.  Eros is, of course disturbingly popular and horribly distracting, so we’ll save most of that for a talk by your local youth pastor, who probably deserves a raise…  Philia is a bit more comfortable.  Who doesn’t like Philia?  (pun intended)  Some have played around with Ludus.  Others, in the long run, may be more committed to  Storge, or Pragma.   For those who perhaps SHOULD be committed, well, then there’s Mania.

I remember my first love.  For me, it was a 1970 Mustang… (insert the sound of something we don’t hear too often anymore…a needle scratching across a record)  Wait.  Were you thinking along different lines?  Flowers?  Chocolates?  Poetry that rhymes?  The Hallmark channel?   Understandable, I suppose. Valentine’s Day does tend to lean toward the Eros/Ludus side of things. But, sorry.  Nope. Wasn’t going in that direction.  I think we’re going to mostly stick with Mania.


I should point out that Righteous Rides was started by a bunch of gearheads.  Many of you have heard Mark and/or Bret (despite the rumors, they are, in fact, two entirely different people…) give a presentation on the founding of a ministry to provide reliable transportation for returning missionaries.  We hope you took notes.  There will be a test later…  But in short, it involved gearheads…people (maniacs) who have an affinity for tinkering with cars…being willing to put some of those abilities and/or affinities toward the Agape side of things.   Others of you may have actually snoozed through said presentation, but don’t fret, I think we have a brochure someplace.

So, the founding story offers evidence that while gearheads may be afflicted by an undying mania toward the internal combustion engine (and a perhaps somewhat lackadaisical attitude toward speed limits and noise ordinances…) they can, if they try really hard, put their talents to a greater form of love than just sending the local Snap-On distributor’s kids to Harvard.   (If you didn’t understand that last one, you are NOT a gearhead…)

We’re not judging anybody.  We’re just recognizing that gearheads are not normal people.  Yes, a gearhead can be domesticated, and trained (cattle prods and jerky treats help) to at least mimic some form of acceptable interaction on the romantic love side of things.  They can be taught to buy flowers and candy, as long as the purchase logistics don’t stray too close to someplace where they can get spark plugs.  Since they can most likely identify the exact date and time (perhaps even the phase of the moon) of the last oil change, it’s entirely reasonable that they might be able to handle buying a card with hearts on it sometime near February.  Miracles can happen.

But let’s face it.  No matter how many times you chain them down on the driveway and break out the pressure washer and steel wool, a true gearhead will still come out smelling vaguely of 10w-40.  Ask a gearhead about their “first love”, and they’ll get a faraway look in their eye, maybe a slightly sad, wistful smile, and start rattling off make, model, cubic inches, and how many layers of clear coat.   And you thought romance was dead…

If you’re brave, you can ask some of the resident gearheads at Righteous Rides about their first loves.  You’ll get a variety of answers and more than a few stories…some of which might even be true.  Ford Mustangs in sore need of a paint job and stronger engine mounts.  Falcons that were more “Hot Wheels” than Hot Rod.  Barely street-legal Torinos.  GTO’s, Impalas, the list goes on.  Some of the more “seasoned” folks around HQ will even wax eloquently about eloquently waxing a 1930’s-era Chevy Master Deluxe or a ’42 Plymouth.   (Don’t talk to Fred.  He may start reminiscing about lawnmowers that apparently broke most of the laws of physics…)  There might even be a few heretics hanging around whose first love came from some place like Japan or Europe.  We’re not judging, but we DO send missionaries to places like that.  Just sayin’…

Understand that, for some gearheads, it may be difficult to actually remember their first love.  Too many instances of having shot themselves in the eye with an errant can of WD-40, or thinking a wrench could actually prop open a hood, may have killed off some brain cells.  It may take cracking open a photo album or two to feel your way through the fog of automotive history.  (For you millennial types out there…back in the dark ages people took “photographs” of their cars and other less important things and had actual images printed on paper, to be kept in books called “photo albums,” instead of in a cloud somewhere.  Ask your mee-maw sometime.  It will make her happy. But be warned.  You’re in it for the long haul.)   So, you might see a faded “polaroid” (don’t ask) of some classic Detroit steel, usually with a pretty young lady leaning her rear end (carefully) against a fender.  The gearhead may not be able to instantly recall said young lady’s name (unless he married said young lady and is smart enough to write it on the back of his hand…).  But he WILL know that a 4:10 rear end was involved (In the Detroit steel.  This is a family column, so we’ll not otherwise discuss the rear ends of pretty young ladies…).

Apart from the mental frailty mentioned above (the gearheads.   We also don’t talk about people’s mee-maws here), another common trait among gearheads is a certain difficulty with hanging on to the object of their mania for very long.  Buy it, tear it apart, put it back together (hopefully) better than it was (hopefully), run out of money, sell it, rinse, repeat.  In such cases, it might not be fair to ask a gearhead to actually choose which of their early automotive obsessions holds that special place in the heart.  Would you ask a mother to say which of her children was her favorite?  (Oh, they have a favorite, alright.  You just know better than to ask…)


So, during this upcoming remembrance of some third-century Roman guy named Valentinus (Who apparently did something at some time…nobody’s really sure what, but it may have involved marriage.  The ancient Romans weren’t that great at making photo albums.) our thoughts may naturally turn to love.  In all of its various iterations.  The godly gearhead may have a Philia and may even admit to his Pragma that it’s a form of Mania.  Just remember to keep some Agape in the mix.  The Snap-On guy’s kids can do a couple of years at community college.


Read Part 2