By Sherri Kukla
It was about this time of year Precious got it’s name.
It was a few years back. Before kids. Before there was never enough time. Before the guy-in-the-garage spent more time working on bikes for kids and neighbors than on his own stuff.
He loved working in the garage. Building things. Fabricating they call it. Working with metal.
He used to have me help him. I learned a new word even. Template. I’d never heard of the word until I made one. It was for a grill guard on an old GMC 4×4 he had. It was a huge grill guard.
That’s the first thing I remember watching him make. Other things came along. Roll cages for Baja Bugs, massive pipe bumpers for trucks, motorcycle stops for the inside of vans, front beams, piggy banks, exhaust pipes, dune buggy bumpers, a chassis or two. The guy-in-the-garage loved welding metal together. And he created some pretty useful stuff too.
But the thing that stands out most in my mind is Precious.
A flatbed trailer it was. So impressively done that even the folks at DMV commented on the clean welds and master workmanship that had gone into the project, when he went down to get it registered and licensed.
Every inch of it was painted battleship gray, right down to the plywood flooring. It was heavy duty. Carried a lot of bikes and firewood. Made a lot of trips to the desert.
He kept it parked to the side of the driveway.
One Christmas Eve I came home from shopping and parked our ‘62 Chevy pickup in the driveway next to the trailer. Okay, maybe I was a tad too close to it.
A little history on the ‘62 pickup. It was another project. You know how these guy-in-the-garages are. Everything is a project.
We had picked up the Chevy for about a thousand bucks a few years back and he was slowly restoring it, while I drove it as my daily transportation. It had been carpeted and upholstered. Dents had been removed. And it had recently been painted. Battleship gray or maybe a hair darker. Some might even have called it black.
Early that evening we loaded Christmas gifts into the truck and were planning on spending a fun-filled Christmas Eve eating dinner and opening presents at his parents’ home.
But that was before he tried to back the Chevy out of the driveway.
As we were backing out, he was saying something about how I was a little close to the trailer. That’s when it happened. The fender of the newly painted ‘62 Chevy project caught on the bumper of the newly painted trailer project and the sound it made just wasn’t a good sound to hear on Christmas Eve. Sort of a screeching, scraping noise that might lead you to believe metal was being twisted into grotesque shapes.
He took the truck out of reverse and eased it forward slightly. I imagined that would work kind of like putting the whole bad scene on rewind, so that presto, it would all be fixed. Not. In fact we heard the same horrid screeching noises just in a slightly different pitch.
I wasn’t about to look at the guy-in-the-garage. But even without seeing the look on his face I could tell by the eloquent words leaving his mouth that he really wasn’t all that happy with me or this situation that my parking job had gotten us into. He got out of the truck to look things over and found that the truck and trailer were now stuck together as if they were one big happy project.
It took some pulling and pushing, kicking and grunting, bending and yelling and finally the two vehicles were detached from each other. But equally detached, at least from an emotional standpoint, were the two occupants of the truck, namely myself and the guy-in-the-garage.
He went ahead and backed the truck out and headed to his mother’s house for our jolly Christmas celebration but when we arrived, I refused to go in. In fact, I got out of the truck, walked to the back, climbed into the camper and there I sat. “I’m not going in,” I said. “Your trailer is more important to you than I am.”
He thought about that for a while, probably longer than was necessary and finally assured me that wasn’t true. He really was between a rock and a hard spot at that moment because there was no way he could go face his mom with me pouting in the truck. She’d know in a heartbeat it was all his fault and she’d tell him so. Finally he apologized enough to get me out of the truck and sort of in a mood to celebrate Christmas, but soon after that the trailer was dubbed Precious and after a decade or so the name is still around.
Since then, Precious has been replaced by Precious II, a fully-enclosed 20-footer that makes life easier when it comes to hauling seven kids, six bikes, 60 gallons of gas and a ton of firewood. But the fun only just begins when we get home and it’s time to park Precious.
I’m happy to say I’ve never parked a vehicle so close to Precious II that it’s gotten hit. But there was that one time when I was giving hand signals to guide the guy-in-the-garage as he was parking and the house just jumped out and hit the trailer. Oops.
There comes a time in a man’s life when he’s just got to decide what’s more important: the wife or the trailer? And having made the decision, he probably better keep the answer a secret.