The fuel fool
I was tooling along, minding my own business, when the car suddenly lurched.
Alarmed, I turned off the radio and listened. Everything sounded OK. Just as I was beginning to think maybe it had all been in my head, my trusty steed lurched again, harder, with more urgency. Deceleration increased even as I gradually floored the accelerator.
Stomach in my throat, I quickly scanned the gauges. They looked exactly as they had moments earlier: the heat gauge was pointed straight up at the middle, while the gas needle rested securely on the peg beside the "E."
Quoting the great philosopher Homer Simpson, I spat out a very loud "Do'oh!" -- or something to that effect.
It wasn't my fault! My previous vehicle would go a good 60 miles after the "low fuel" light came on, and I wasn't yet fully familiar with the foibles of this particular flivver.
The odometer revealed that a mere 20 miles had rushed under my wheels since the "low fuel" warning had chimed. Aha! This proved that I was, at most, just 1/3 to blame for this predicament!
Once I had safely pulled onto the shoulder, I used my cell phone to alert the highest possible authority.
"We have a problem," I reported. "It appears that excessive outgassing has created a negative vehicle propellant condition."
"You doofus!" exclaimed my wife's voice from the other end, "Didn't I say this was going to happen to you someday? Why do you do these stupid things?"
It was hard to think of a retort at that exact moment. A semi truck was roaring past just four feet away, 80,000 pounds of rubber and steel blasting by at 80 MPH. The shock waves caused my puny car to tremble like a leaf in a hurricane.
My next cell phone call was to summon help. Ruefully noting that a gas station sat just six miles away, I thought, "Just my luck! Had I only bucked my seat belt on the go instead of letting the car idle those 30 seconds, I might have made it!"
Part of the problem is that I have too many things to worry about nowadays. Does my toothpaste have enough whitening power? Will Britney need more rehab? Is Cialis right for me? What is Cialis anyway?
Now that I've had time to reflect on my out-of-gas experience, I have an answer to my wife's "why" question: It's a guy thing.
It's a guy thing to occasionally tempt fate. It's part of our nature to put the occasional snowmobile through the ice, or make wings out of wax and feathers and see how close we can fly to the sun.
It's thus a guy thing to get your gas tank as empty as possible. The ultimate guy gas experience is to run out just as we catch sight of the filling station, coasting in with a dead engine, the momentum carrying us to just within reach of the gas hose.
My wife deems this dumb. This is because she, like most females, embraces the belief that it's just as easy to keep the top half of the tank full as the bottom half. But where's the fun in that? Where's the thrill, the challenge?
This "always be prepared" attitude is why my wife is never without her purse, a bulky leather satchel that's heavy enough to contain an entire car. Even so, I know for a fact that the female gender has a less-than-spotless record in the area of fuel management.