Not Very Feminist, But We All Do It…
I went to the garage today to get my car MOT’d. Nothing strange about that, I’ve done it before. In fact last year I took mine, my husband’s and my dad’s car to be serviced and MOT’d. I’m no car expert, I don’t know a piston from a petrol pump, but I work from home and therefore that means people give me the shit that they don’t have time to (don’t want to) do.
Okay. Who am I kidding?
When it comes to taking time out of my day to visit a bunch of dirty mechanics in overalls, and watch them bend over my bonnet and wipe their sweaty brow with their oil slick hands, I let it slide. It’s okay, really, I’m not complaining. Because this… (just skip to 0.47 and my misspent youth).
So, today I was at the car mechanic’s. And where I live you don’t just leave your car there, you queue up in a big long line of cars and wait your turn, you then stay in the car and the mechanics run you through the MOT ‘exam’ of you testing stuff inside the car and at the end tell you whether you have passed.
I’m standing in the glaring sun, hazy heat bouncing off the asphalt, exhaust fumes smacking me in the face and the cacophony of motor sounds like swarms of angry wasps about to attack, and the following things are racing through my head…
1. I am the only woman here
2. Shit! Every guy is looking at me, and every guy looks like a truck driver
3. I can’t remember the procedure. What paper work do I need? What’s my registration number?
4. I think I have forgotten how my car works
5. This is too much like my driving test all over again. And it took me five tests to pass that, FIVE!
Oh God, I’m getting all flustered. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Then my car gets called up. I slowly roll it into the testing area where two hot young guys in overalls are waiting, ready to take me through my paces. And that’s when it happens, that’s when the ballsy, strong, feminist, strident, confident and egalitarian Lady Lolita disappears and she’s swiftly replaced by Dumb Bimbo.
Now, my Dumb Bimbo alter ego doesn’t come out all that often. But she is useful, very very useful.
You see, on a good day I can still turn heads. Not as many as I did in my youth when I would spend entire weekends in bars without bothering to take my purse out because the drinks were always free, but I still get the odd wolf whistle and wink. I’m doing okay for someone old enough to be the average hotty’s mum. Today I was wearing a floaty little dress, wedged heels, hooped earrings, my hair long and thick and bouncy, and I had even remembered to dab on a slick of lip gloss. So my ammunition was ready, and a good job too because my brain was not in gear and my confidence had already sped off into the distance.
This is how it went:
Mr Mechanic: ‘Okay miss, can you drive the car over to the ramp over there?’
Clonk. I stall the car. Dumb Bimbo looks up at Mr Mechanic through her ‘Get The London Look’ eyelashes and gives a pathetic shoulder shrug. Mr Mechanic smiles and I try again.
Mr Mechanic: ‘Right, now let’s test your indicators.’
And I turn on the windscreen wipers. For the love of god!!! I have been driving this car for three years, why am I acting like such a twat? But Dumb Bimbo comes to the rescue again, rolls her eyes at him, smiles and Mr Mechanic saunters over, moves my hand over to the other lever and together we flick them on.
Mr Mechanic: ‘And now for the water in the windscreen wipers.’
And they are empty. Really?! Even I know how to top up my windscreen wiper water pot thingy.
‘Oh,’ says Dumb Bimbo, playing with her hair. ‘My Dad said he had filled it up for me. I don’t understand.’ An extra dollop of eyelash fluttering for good measure.
Mr Mechanic smiles, winks and says it’s nothing to worry about.
When I’m asked to step out of the car I pull at my short dress and bite my top lip, asking how it’s going. The other younger mechanic starts chatting away about how he has the same car as me, about how he doesn’t know where many of the dials are either and how I’m doing great. I smile at him in gratitude. It’s too easy.
And I pass my MOT.
Of course I pass, because there is nothing wrong with my car – just the prat attempting to drive it. Then I wonder whether my auto-reflects of morphing into Dumb Bimbo had anything to do with it. Did I just demean myself and let down my gender? Or did I actually empower myself by taking advantage of the weaker sex and their little brain in their pants and manipulate the situation to my advantage? And surely I’m not the only one that does this?
Because I’m not one to play the Female Card. Honest. Never!
Not in the Board Room, not in the Bedroom, not in the Classroom and not even when it comes to being smaller and less strong than a man. Just ask my sister about the time I stumbled out of Argos and into the rain, five bags in one hand, two boxes under the other arm and a clothing airer over my head screaming ‘Open the car! Open the car!’ I’m no pussy and I don’t expect to be pandered to because of my gender.
Until Dumb Bimbo pops up. Oh that sneaky, useful little madam!
Because it’s not even as if I’m a great flirt. I’m a SHIT flirt. Unless I really like someone, in which case I might flirt because it will lead to a kiss, which leads to a bit more, which leads to a shag or three. So why would I want to flirt with someone I have no intention of sleeping with? It’s kinda cruel and unfair. My mother always said to me that there was nothing worse than a prick tease, and I stand by that. So what was I doing with the mechanic? That wasn’t even flirting… it was being pathetic. And it worked. I acted all helpless and in turn he felt all clever, and super manly and totally ‘knight in shining armour’. Which meant he let me off about my empty water thingy and other stuff I think didn’t really work well… and I won. Or at least Dumb Bimbo won for me.
And then I realised – wait up! Men do this too!
How often have we watched a man wash up so loudly and make such a mess, that we have taken over? Or changed a baby’s nappy so slowly that the kid is practically ready for college by the time we swat the man out of the way? And there was the time I stayed at my in-laws, and my husband’s mother wasn’t home so my father-in-law actually handed me a pile of clothes and asked me to wash them for him. I was a guest! In his home! But the only woman there… so I did it. Cheeky git.
So I no longer feel guilty about Dumb Bimbo. She’s rather harmless, she gets me out of excruciatingly embarrassing situations and the grease monkeys seem to like her too. And if my ‘I’ll fix anything you want for a tenner’ mechanic is anything to go by, that ain’t no bad thing!