I was at a family reunion earlier this summer.


They are always a lot of fun because the general mood is so much better than family funerals.


The common DNA bond makes for a good mixer at a reunion and this one was no exception. I enjoy time spent with my kinfolk better than ever as I get older.


You always learn something new at a gathering of the clan.But this year I learned a disturbing secret when one of my cousins arrived late for the reunion.


He explained that he had a flat tire on the way down to our reunion.


Fair enough, car trouble has been a fundamental part of every family function because of the sheer numbers that attend these events. We come from a prolific strain of reproducers, so the odds are very good that somebody will have a car problem.


A flat tire is a no-brainer, but I was somewhat disturbed to learn that my cousin chose a different path to solve the problem: he phoned his auto service and got a guy to change it for him. At first I thought he was kidding, but the story got worse when he described how he initially phoned his brother (obviously another cousin) who advised him to phone another of their brothers (yet another cousin) to come to his aid. Both of them found this solution pretty funny.


The net result was that none of them were able to take on a simple tire change. It was a chilling admission. These are very bright and ambitious guys (in fact two of them are lawyers, so I will refrain from naming names), but they were outgunned by a jack and some lug nuts.


The cousin with the flat tire pleaded his case with a weather defense, in view of the monsoon conditions, but the jury of his male cousin peers convicted him anyway. He was found guilty of failing to learn a basic rite of passage into manhood known as changing a flat tire. Punishment was swift and merciless- he was subjected to ridicule all night.


I have had many encounters with tire changes over the years, typically under fairly hostile weather conditions. Tires seem to hate holding air in sub-zero weather, and I live in an area with an overly generous amount of winter chill.


But I have always managed to swap empty tires for full tires with one exception: a late night flat tire on a major highway that runs by my city. It was a mild winter night, but a close encounter with a drunken idiot who aimed his car at me while I was jacking up the car convinced me to change my plans.


It dawned on me as I leapt onto my trunk that there might be more of these morons on the road, so my brother Jerry and I walked the rest of the way home. It was only a couple of miles, and it seemed like the right thing to do. The next day I completed the job.


So I don’t actually know if the ability to change a tire is in the official rites of manhood manual, but it belongs in one.


Just one guy’s opinion.


Jim Sutherland


DENNIS:”The ability to function in the “mortal” society is programmed out by law school. That’s why there are so many of them in government”.

SANDRA:”I had to laugh when I read your column regarding flat tires this morning. My husband also was adamant that everyone should know how to change a tire, and real men changed their own. However, many years ago when we were much younger, we were heading to a wedding when we had a flat. As we were both dressed up, suits and everything back then, my husband decided to go a short distance down the road to a garage and have someone change it so he would not get dirty before the wedding. The garage was just that, nothing fancy, a couple of old guys and a gas pump. They agreed to change the tire and my husband paid what I thought was a decent amount but then gave the fellow a huge tip…..this from someone who usually did not tip at all. I asked him (told him) he had overtipped and why would he do that (typical female reaction). He said, “didn’t you notice, the old fellow only had one arm, and I felt really bad standing there watching him.” I had never noticed the lack of an arm, the man was very adept at changing the tire, so much so that the only reason my husband noticed was when he had dropped a lug nut and my husband reached down and picked it up for him. We only ever had one flat tire in our lives after that and my husband changed it himself, in the pouring rain. He also taught both our daughters how to change a tire, although, even if they know the principle, I doubt if they will ever do it. Thank you for an entertaining column”.