Garageneering: Time Travel

The retrofit of a decrepit garage was going poorly. The Curmudgeon, being Adaptive and all, realized the solution to this wasn’t in the present. It was with the dipshit that made the mess in the first place. So he retreated to his mad scientist’s laboratory (you mean you don’t have one?) and built a time machine.


The 1970’s. A redneck with two teeth and a can of Bud light is working on a garage. It’s new construction. The walls are bare 2″ x 4″ studs.

The man has a net worth of eight dollars, and that includes his car. Orbiting the man are 37 children of all ages. A crooked wheelbarrow is propped against a barrel. There’s a twelve pack of beer in the wheelbarrow. A child is in the corner peeing. An AM radio is playing a speech by President Carter; “This intransigence by Iran will not go unpunished. Also I have lusted in my heart.” As with all things Carter, nobody listens.

The man is happily flailing away with a saw. Then he drops it in the mud and motions toward some kids. “Get me that paneling.”

Seven children charge over to a huge pile of freshly purchased paneling. It was on sale at the lumber yard for a very steep discount. It has been sitting in the rain for a week. The kids drag a floppy panel through the mud to their father. In a swift motion he slaps it against the studs and without the slightest pause tacks it up with 245 tiny nails. On one side it overlaps the stud. On the other side he has nailed it over a kid’s foot. The kid extracts her foot and scampers off.

He holds out his hand for the next panel. This one he hammers up even faster. It’s not quite flush with the other one so he adds more tacks.


A six foot sphere of plasma expands from a pinpoint and takes form. Children flee, the redneck drops his beer and curses, six dogs and a housecat run for their lives. As suddenly as it forms, the sphere vanishes. In it’s place, fully clothed, carrying a backpack, and holding several items, is your’s truly; The Curmudgeon.

The redneck is terrified. He’d run in fear but first he reaches for his dropped beer can. The Curmudgeon steps beyond the can and plants his booted foot on the redneck’s outstretched hand.

“No!” Commands the Curmudgeon.

“My beer?” Squeaks his victim.

“I am from the future.” Booms The Curmudgeon, “And you have pissed me off!” The Curmudgeon kicks the beer can out of the way, reaches for a device from a hidden pocket, and extracts a cattle prod.



“Do I have your full attention?”

Rubbing his temple, the man nods.

“Good, from now on I’m going to refer to you by your proper name. You are ‘Dumbass’.”

“Actually I’m Bob…”


“…Dumbass is fine.”

“Listen carefully Dumbass. This is for you.” The Curmudgeon hefts a large tool box and drops it on the man’s foot. The man hops back and accidentally crushes his dropped beer can.

“In that tool box you will find several tape measures, squares, small levels, and a big level. A good hammer. New drill bits. That sort of stuff.”

Confused, the man nods.

“Use them!” Orders the Curmudgeon.

Waving with his cattle prod, The Curmudgeon indicates the wall, 2″ by 4″ studs, now with two flimsy sheets of paneling tacked on.

“Are those on 16″ centers.”

“More or less.” Whimpers the man.

The Curmudgeon strides to the wall and pulls a tape measure from his pocket. “It’s 3/4″ off!” He barks.

“Well that’s close enough?”


Grasping his electrocuted genitals, Dumbass collapses on the floor. Meanwhile The Curmudgeon is checking the studs with a level.

“I check five studs and three of them are out of level? Now, before you’ve even finished construction? You bastard!” Curmudgeon drops the cattle prod and draws a pistol.


An expertly fired 9 mm round goes through the AM radio. Jimmy Carter’s voice, which had been saying something about ‘negotiate with Iran’ is silenced. Dumbass wets himself.

“Man I hated the ’70s! Fuckin’ Carter.” Curmudgeon growls. Suddenly, as if reminded of another terrible menace The Curmudgeon whirls to check the driveway behind him. He sees a rusted Buick, a broken Chevy, and several parts of a snowmobile.

“Do you own an AMC Gremlin? The Curmudgeon hisses. There’s a dark look in his eye.

“No! No! I swear.” Dumbass begs.

“Good, if I saw a Gremlin I might get upset.”

“What’s with AMC’s?” Dumbass stutters.

As if to answer, The Curmudgeon reaches into his backpack, pulls out a 3′ wrecking bar, and with a single motion, tears a sheet of paneling from the wall. It splits in half at his feet.

“Hey, I just bought that.” Dumbass whines.

Ignoring him, The Curmudgeon reaches into the mess at his feet and tears a tag from the paneling. He begins to read. “5/32 inch Bungalow Paneling... Curmudgeon spits the words out angrily. Precautions: One, Bungalow Paneling is for interior use only… …it may expand or contract with changes in humidity.” He faces Dumbass, “Are you going to heat this garage? Every day? All winter long? Every year?”

“No.” Dumbass is surreptitiously reaching into the wheelbarrow.


A bullet hole in the fresh can of Bud Light Dumbass grabbed is spewing crappy beer everywhere. Dumbass instinctively drops it. The Curmudgeon barely looks up from his reading.

“Two, panels must be installed over a solid dry wall... the Curmudgeon leers menacingly at Dumbass and continues, “…Do not install over open stud construction.”

Waving with his pistol he indicates the wall. “Would you say that is open stud construction?”

“Yes.” Dipshit really wishes he had a beer.

“And would you say you’ve installed this crap assed Bungalo shit over open studs? You’ve nailed it up where it doesn’t belong. You’ve built everything in a haphazard manner! Your failure is such that it will piss off future generations.” The Curmudgeon is screaming now. “Some poor bastard in the future is going to have to un-fuck the disaster you’re making right now!

The Curmudgeon pauses, draws a breath, counts to ten, and begins again with no appreciable reduction in rage. Wouldn’t you say that I ought to stop you from your utterly dipshit nature? How can you deny that if I shot you between the eyes… and maybe replaced you with a human being, maybe one who knows how to assemble a proper wall and use a damn tape measurewho could deny that your untimely, bloody, death would make my life, in the future…” The Curmudgeon pauses, trying to manage his emotions, “…better.”

With today’s visit to your time,The Curmudgeon continues, “I’m beginning the process of un-fucking the future.” With that he strides to the pile of new paneling, reaches into his backpack for a handful of flares, ignites several, and dumps them on the paneling… which bursts into flame.

The Curmudgeon still has several unlit flares in his hand. “You sure you don’t have any AMC products nearby?” He asks this as if nothing could be more perfect in the world than a road flare jammed in a Gremlin’s gas tank.

“Sorry, couldn’t afford one.” Dumbass shudders.

“Right then.” The Curmudgeon glances at a chronograph on his wrist. “So I’ll be going. Here’s some cash.” Curmudgeon tosses his heavy backpack on the ground at Dumbasses feet. It’s filled with a mountain of quarters, nickels, and dimes. Dumbass looks at the huge pile of change, opens his mouth to speak, and thinks better of it.

“It wasn’t easy to get 40 year old paper money.” The Curmudgeon shrugs. “There’s about $500 there. Spend it on good materials and decent tools. No more ‘Bungalow Paneling’. Be a man and use plywood or something. Also two words, ‘vapor barrier’. And learn to use a goddamn level you chimp!”

Dumbass is delighted at his newfound wealth.

“One more thing. Buy an ounce of gold. It’s like $150 bucks.” The Curmudgeon pauses and gets a far off wistful look in his eyes. “Stuff the gold in the wall somewhere. I’ll use that to get your stupid historical quarters.”

Dumbass is disappointed to know that some of the mountain of change is not his to spend.

When I get to the futureThe Curmudgeon continues, I’m going to check the garage. If it’s still built like an ignoramus might slap together a mud pie, I’m going to come back and flatten this whole structure… with you in it. But if it’s straight and true and well built, you’ll never see me again. Also…” At this The Curmudgeon speaks slowly, as if to impart a fact of great import, “If the garage is in perfect shape in the future I’m not going to go knocking walls down looking for a stupid gold coin. I’ll just assume the coin is inside it somewhere.” The Curmudgeon winks as he says ‘assume’.

A sphere begins to form around The Curmudgeon and he begins to fade. At the last minute Dumbass realizes what is happening and scrambles to his feet.

“What else can you tell me about the future?” Dumbass pleads.

“Don’t buy Betamax!” Comes the reply… as if from a great distance.


The present. An Adaptive Curmudgeon is in his garage trying to fix a carboretor. Mrs. Curmudugeon steps in. “How’s it going?”

“Not bad.He smiles. The workshop is spotless and well appointed. Everything is where it should be. Outlets are plentiful, properly grounded, and evenly spaced. He leans against the solid, well built, workbench and grins at the perfectly smooth and well maintained drywall. He sets the carburetor on one of many, ideally situated shelves.

“Didn’t you say something about ‘retrofitting’ the garage?” Mrs. Curmudgeon asks.

“Nah, why bother? It’s fine just like it is.”

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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17 Responses to Garageneering: Time Travel

  1. cspschofield says:

    Well, you can dream, can’t you?

  2. cspschofield says:

    BTW; may I assume that it might actually be LESS work and trouble to bulldoze the garage and start over, but the local planning office (or equivalent) probably would’t let you build the garage if you did?

    • Local planning office? Let me build?!? I don’t bloody well think so!

      I didn’t move to the ass end of nowhere to have anyone let me do anything. Urbanites come to a committee room on bended knee but the rural folk just do what needs doing to keep the snow off their Skidoo. Freedom starts with a hammer and nails! Country boy can survive! ‘Merica Fuck Yeah. Wolverines! They’ll have to pry my radial arm saw from my cold dead hands! Bark bark howwwllllllll…..

      Where was I? Oh yeah, I can build any damn thing I want (within reason) and the local county is generally pretty cool about it. Not because they’re kind and reasonable but because I live in the ass end of nowhere and they’re not blithering idiots. I’m rather certain that any zoning dweeb who marched fresh out of bureaucracy college into the hinterland to hassle rednecks over their garages would have found themselves ventilated long before they got to my land.

      From a less inflammatory point of view, it would be more expensive to build from scratch… money is the limiting factor. Plus time. Overall time building new is less but it comes all at once. I can spend an hour here and an hour there with a wrecking bar trying to un-fuck the mess left to me by posterity. If I can get it insulated and heated in time possibly I can play with it on cold dark winter nights. What else am I gonna’ do, watch TV? Building from scratch would mean going “all in” and pouring concrete and hiring equipment and Greek debt and deadlines to return the equipment and dogs and cats living together and … where was I again?

      So yeah, it’s a “first world problem” kind of luxury to “retrofit”. When I’ve got money for a sheet or two of plywood and an hour (or fifty) to kill. It may take a while but it’s all cash and all my labor. Frankly, it’s more rewarding than a lot of things I do. In the end I get a nice workshop and clean up chaos that needs cleaning up… who wouldn’t like that?

      • cspschofield says:

        “Not because they’re kind and reasonable but because I live in the ass end of nowhere and they’re not blithering idiots.”

        The idiots do arrive, sooner or later. My Parents lived in Iowa for 15 years (Father taught at Iowa State), and they passed on to me some delicious local history. Seems that , ever since the first round of Interstates got built, every four to eight years there will arrive in Des Moines, fresh out of Washington DC, a bright eager chappie with plans to drive an interstate diagonally across Iowa. For Progress! And regular as clockwork, the Farmers turn up in Des Moines on their tractors (because they know the value of a good picture) with their shotguns, and explain to the little idiot why that isn’t. Going. To. Happen.

        I believe the quote is “We’ve got more shotgun shells than you have road workers.”

  3. aczarnowski says:

    Level, plumb. Tomato, tomatoe. I have lived the sentiment and completely agree a cattle prod to Dumbass’s genitals is fair.

  4. JW says:

    Dumbass was probably drinking PBR or regular Bud – Bud Light was still a couple years out. If you go back again, can you find the person responsible for speed bumps? I think you’ll know what to do when you find ’em. Thanks

    • Ha ha ha… I forgot there was a time before Bud Light.

      I’m also not sure if Iran was taking hostages the same time as the AMC Gremlin was infecting our streets with ugly. I do find it amusing that Obama and Kerry are right now talking about all the awesome stuff they’ve negotiated with Iran. Probably I should have added something about eating wheaties. There is a cycle to it all.

  5. Tennessee Budd says:

    Before Bud Light? Hell, I remember before Coors came East, & I’m only 50. (Hard to believe there was a time I actually wanted a Coors.)

    • I remember the rarity of Coors. I forgot that someone had to “invent” Bud Light.

      Ugh… no matter how much I rant about Seattle/Portland at least the beer and coffee is better now. For that I am thankful.

    • cspschofield says:

      I, too, remember that time, but only because the Coors people owner Killian’s Irish Red, which I liked.

      Don’t drink anymore. Gout. It was easier to give up beer than red meat……

  6. jon spencer says:

    Have you run into 8/4 by 4″ mill run “two by fours” yet? Those are always fun when trying to flatten a wall.

  7. Mark Matis says:

    My bet is that the redneck’s pit bull woulda had a mouthful o’ nuts as soon as you stepped on Dumbass’ hand.

  8. David W. says:

    It sort of reminds me of the time I helped my parents redo their bedroom. My great Grandfather helped my dad and grandfather put the walls up in the first place. You could see which walls he worked on because every stud had two nails in it side by side, ever six inches, from top of the stud to bottom of the stud.

    Seriously, we were a day late in finishing because no one expected having to remove about 30 pounds of nails.

  9. Pingback: Garageneering: Time Travel: Alternate Universe Ending | The Adaptive Curmudgeon's Blog

  10. Pingback: AMC Gremlin | Adaptive Curmudgeon

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