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November 2009 Dr. Vern

Posted in Features on November 20, 2009
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Contributors: Dr. Vern

Help! I married a guy! "Not that there's anything wrong with that," as Seinfeld would say, but that's just not my cup of tea. My concerns started when I noticed a major clue that my wife was not who or what she claimed to be. Please understand that I pinch myself on a daily basis because she's pretty as can be, devoted, charming, and sweet. In other words, she's everything a guy could hope for in a woman. However, on the down side, and this falls under the deal breaker category, she apparently used to be a man. Despite the seemingly flawless conversion, the doctors forgot something: A few Jeep-related vestigial brain waves somehow survived.

To understand my confusion, consider hearing the following: "Can we go to a Jeep swap meet soon?" In a normal world, a question like this can only be asked by a guy. Women never utter stuff like that. I don't believe they are even capable of forming this thought, let alone expressing it. I see only two possible reasons that my better half said such an unusual thing. Either she was indeed a man at some point, or I've entered a bizarre parallel universe.

My wife insists she is not a guy and never has been, but still I have my doubts. I have looked for other obvious signs, such as burping and then claiming whiplash, but so far her Jeep-related comments are the only dead giveaways. If she is telling the truth and never was a man, which means a parallel universe does exist, I think I've already found the portal: The door between my house and garage. On the garage side of the door, things seem normal, the way they should be. However, on the other side of the door, nothing makes sense when I step into the house.

For example, out in my garage my Jeep is diligently obeying the laws of physics and Mr. Murphy. At the moment, I've got one of the locking hubs disassembled because a mounting bolt broke. They had worked loose, and it seemed like a simple matter to tighten them. Murphy's Law swung into overdrive, of course, and a bolt snapped when only finger tight. The pseudo-engineer in me tells me it was a marginal design and the hub bolts were overloaded, so it's no surprise that one finally sheared in half.

No problem, it's an easy enough repair, but Murphy's Law stayed in effect. I looked high and low but couldn't find my set of bolt extractors to fish out the broken piece. There's something satisfying about knowing the bolt broke when loaded beyond its limit. That's easy to understand and somewhat predictable. Coming up empty while searching for a specific tool I know I have? Even that's strangely comforting, because it seems to happen so often. I'll poke around the garage one more time, but have already planned to hit the tool store after that. Not only will I be fixing the damage, but the gears in my head are already turning (in a most predictable fashion) with plans for an upgrade so the hubs don't work loose again.

On the one side of the door, we have the reassuring scenario of things going wrong, just like they're supposed to. Compare that with what happens when I step inside the house. A gorgeous trophy-caliber wife eagerly asks if she could help with the repair, because she is itching for us to go four-wheeling again. Hmm, strange, I thought I should be in trouble for spending too much time in the garage. But wait, it gets even more unsettling. This is where she tosses out the comment about hitting a Jeep swap meet soon. By this point, I'm expecting Rod Serling to step from the shadows and announce we've just entered the Twilight Zone. Am I dreaming?

Still, it's never safe to assume hallucinations are real. Case in point: The 1960s. Back to this day and age, I needed some means to determine whether or not I'm in the real world, so I devised a foolproof test. Maybe my wife likes my CJ-2A because it's lots of fun and looks cool. It's comparable to falling for something cute such as a puppy, so liking my Jeep isn't much of a stretch. What if I was to subject her to something so funny looking that most people would break out laughing? (Editor's Note: When do you need me there?) I hatched a diabolical plan to prove I'm not crazy. Courtesy of Craig's List, I found an FC-170 for sale nearby.

If you're not familiar with the FC-170, it's not exactly the most photogenic Jeep to ever roll off the line in Toledo. Actually, that's not a conditional statement, so even if you're not familiar with the FC-170, it still looks just as funny. This model, along with its smaller FC-150 sibling, formed the Forward Control line from Jeep, produced only during the late 50s and early 60s. Using many of the same mechanical components from the Jeep parts bin, it had a body style that was, um, how shall we say, unique. The cab sat far forward and looked like a squared-off bubble, with the occupants sitting above the front wheels. The end result was a long, skinny bed behind a bulbous cab, guaranteeing these rigs could never be mistaken for cute. Most people say that Forward Controls are ugly. Not just as if hit by an ugly stick, but more like it fell from an ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. If anything, the proportions of the short wheelbase FC-150 aren't quite as bad, so the ungainly FC-170 was the perfect test for my wife.

This particular Jeep would need a lot of work to be roadworthy again. It hadn't run in many years and rust had set in, too. I expected my wife to be the voice of reason. I was wrong. She said we needed the FC-170. My wife, I love him.

-Dr. Vern

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