The power of positive investigation.

There’s that old axiom about what curiosity does to the cat… then there are circumstances in which the reverse is closer to the truth.

I could be chasing a ball around a golf course in my now-rare spare time (how quickly the isolation/quarantine disappeared!), but – as many of you already know – I find it less frustrating to chase down problems plaguing my two sports cars. (Their age requires I have two to keep at least one running at all times…)

Memorial Day seemed like as good a time as any to run ‘Little Red’ out on the expressway. The battery seemed a little weak the last time I started it, and I knew a good little drive should charge it up to where it ought to be.

It’s a five-speed manual, and I have always enjoyed that merge-lane burst of acceleration, running through the gears, the whine of the engine, and the respect of the speed limit rolling into a cruising rate. (It is a bright red color – which, combined with the patience of the officers who have pulled me over – has trained me to look down at the speedometer.)

For a car that has spent a lot of time in a parking space, ‘Little Red’ doesn’t disappoint. I didn’t want to wind up in Muskogee, so I made an exit and turned around, running through the gears again and merging back onto the expressway in the opposite direction. Back in Broken Arrow, I sailed down the ramp and geared down at the stop light.

Sniff. Scent of gasoline.

Looking around, I see what I assume to be the culprit, an older vehicle (as if mine isn’t old) that is probably in need of a tune-up. Light changes, and I am off again, second gear, third gear – wind it down – another stop light.

Another scent of gasoline. That’s curious, I thought.

When I pulled into the hardware store and shut off the engine, the gasoline smell was strong. More importantly, there were no other cars close by on which I could place the blame.

I popped the hood and leaned in. Sure enough, the pressured fuel line was damp. Right away, I was thinking of how hot that engine was, running up the RPMs, highway speeds. The engine ticked away, but it couldn’t have cooled quickly enough for my comfort.

On my way back out of the store, I began thinking about odds and options. Not being particularly comfortable driving a car that – by all indications – was leaking a flammable liquid onto a hot surface, I considered the alternative. Calling a wrecker, waiting (on Memorial Day afternoon) in a parking lot, and then shelling out the cash for the privilege of not blowing myself up.

The choice was obvious.

I drove back with my fingers crossed as an insurance policy, thinking so many positive thoughts about making it safely that I was afraid my ears might begin to bleed.

When I popped the hood in the safety of my parking spot, the same fuel line was still damp, but I noticed the line next to it had a rubber connector – clearly ravaged by time. Which line was leaking?

Only one way to find out.

Actually, there are probably many, many safe ways that a good mechanic would make the determination, but – as I don’t profess to be a good mechanic – I just started the engine and jumped out to have a look.

I will admit shock at seeing a four-foot stream of gasoline shooting out beyond the front end of the car onto the drive. Immediately, I thought, “that’s not a good thing.” Then I remembered that expressway-heated engine and that amount of fuel geyser-ing under the hood at the stop lights. Another old axiom: What we don’t know, won’t hurt us. Patently false.

It will be like a short distance par-four to repair. A project for next weekend, weather-willing.

And I’m more emphatic now that – as regards curiosity (along with the power of positive thinking and crossed fingers) – I am decidedly in the corner with the cat.