“When was the last time you changed the oil?” my father, who was clearly pissed off, asked me. He was looking at my car’s dip stick.
“Change the oil?” I said.
“Oh my God,” he said. “Please don’t tell me that you’ve never changed the oil since you bought this piece of shit car two years ago.” Then he thrust the dip stick toward me, like a fencer might thrust a sword toward his opponent. He ran his finger and thumb over the dipstick and held up his hand. “Look at this,” he yelled. “This is sludge. No wonder your car’s engine seized up.”
“No one told me that I needed to change the oil,” I said. “How am I supposed to know that if no one ever told me? And by ‘no one,’ I mean you, Dad.” I figured the best defense is a strong offense.
“Oh, so now it’s my fault,” he said, plunging the dip stick back into its sleeve in the car’s engine. “Didn’t you take auto mechanics in high school?”
“No, Dad,” I said. “I took wood shop. Don’t you remember that rad coffee table I made for your and Mom’s anniversary that year?” Next, I tried hard to lay a guilt trip on him. “Besides, you’re my father. Isn’t it your job to teach me these things?”
“You’re a smart kid,” he said. “You got early acceptance and a full-ride scholarship at State U. Your mother and I gave you the money to buy a used car so you’d have transportation up there and could drive home during school breaks.”
“Yeah, I know and I appreciate that, Dad,” I said. “But you should have told me that I needed to have my oil changed every so often.”
“As I said,” he responded. “You’re a smart kid. But being book-smart and street-smart are not the same thing. Unfortunately, I don’t think they offer a course in common sense up at State.”
“Chip off the old block, I guess,” I said sarcastically.
“Fine,” he said. “I was going to offer to pay for the repairs to your car. But now you’re on your own, son.”
Now it was my father’s turn smile. “See, I told you, no common sense,” he said. “Sometimes you can be as thick as that sludge where your oil should be.”
Written for today’s one-word prompt, “sludge.”