The male members of our group sprang into action like spontaneous erections. Overfed gourmands no more, these he-men were street legal and ready to rumble. They engulfed the car and rolled it up the drive in a flash.
Guys really like pushing cars.
Courtesy of the damnable reliability of today's internal combustion engines, however, they don't get to do it much anymore. As the rare sightings of two guys muscling a Chevy into the corner Shell station dwindle, the male population's fondness for this rudimentary act only deepens.
The more perilous the vehicular situation, the more seductive it is. If a guy sees two guys pushing a car, he goes over to help. If just one guy is trying to push and steer from the vee formed by car and driver's side door, the other guy runs over to help. And an elderly madam unsuccessfully cranking her engine in the middle of a busy intersection ironically becomes more irresistible than a Sports Illustrated "Swimsuit Edition" still in the plastic sleeve.
Deconstruction of this phenomenon is blissfully simple. Pushing a car is a straightforward activity with visible results: you push, the car moves. Guys understand that. There are no hidden complications in the neat box of Guys Pushing Car. It's satisfying and universal, like shaving, or buying Cruex, or tying a tie. Plus it's something guys can do together. Pushing a car bestows guys with a sense of guy community.
Guys enjoy the verbalization evoked by pushing a car.
"You need to cut it left. Left! Okay, now straighten it out. Straighten! STRAIGHTEN!!"
Guys also used to be able to make cartalk (an approved guy-on-guy nonsexual flirting exchange) while pushing a car, which would not be shouted, but spoken in a conversational tone, thereby implying that the associated guys are enjoying a certain control over the car-pushing endeavor.
"So whaddya got in here? A V8?"
No one (save that Sunday afternoon car show contingent of old guys with pot bellies, pompadours, and cigarette packs rolled in the sleeve of their pocket-tees) talks about a V8 anymore unless they're ordering a Bloody Mary. The advent of the computerized compact car took cartalk away from guys. Even if someone's Nissan Sentra runs out of gas and requires a push, what are the car pushing guys of today supposed to say?
"This baby got a helical limited-slip differential?"
No one wants to hear car-pushing guys talking about limited-slip differentials. It's downright emasculating. The removal of cartalk from the proceedings, however, has only elevated the revered act of pushing.
If a car needed pushing, I'd be the first in line. But if there were a bunch of guys standing around? No way. Those guys can come over and push the goddamn car. I'd be the Steering Chick.
The Steering Chick is sort of like the Band Chick with the tambourine and go-go boots, except the Steering Chick doesn't have a tambourine or go-go boots, she's just steering. I am excellent Steering Chick material.
I'd comply as they directed me to cut it left and straighten. After they pushed my car out of the ditch, I'd humbly say, "Aw Christ, you guys can't know how much I appreciate that." The car-pushing guys would like me. They'd think I was a good Steering Chick; and we'd all bask in the unspoken and intimate portion of the experience.
Another more nuanced reason guys like pushing a car is that it's hard at first, then it gets easy. Car-pushing guys believe this is a secret trick.
Hey guys? We all know that pushing the car is easy once you get it going.
That corollary does not apply to pushing a car up a hill or out of a mud pit. Such complications represent the zenith of the car-pushing craft; and they impart a stoic solidarity to the associated guys.
After guys complete a challenging car push, they review the event by leaning against the just-pushed car, cans of Genny Cream Ale perched on the swells of their bellies. They say things like, "Almost didn't make it over that second ridge," or "Holy shit, that mud over by the barn just about sucked my boot right off." The group responds by snorting, shaking their heads, and kicking at stones. Then they crush their beer cans and say their goodbyes, fulfilled in a way no amount of fellatio can achieve.
There is the unfortunate instance when the car pushing does not succeed. When the orgiastic moment of car gliding out of peril does not come. No bonding moment, no crushed beer cans, no flirty grins from the Steering Chick. Despite their every effort, there are times when all the car-pushing guys have is a car obstinately stuck in the mud.
That's when you get out the towrope.
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