The First Time I Cussed In Front of My Dad

I grew up with a mechanic as a father.  I learned at a young age the difference between a Phillips and a flat head screw driver, knew how to tell if the bolt was metric or standard.  The older I got, I was even able to guess pretty well on the size of the socket that was needed.  I had gone to work with my dad.  Met his mechanic friends.  So, needless to say… I had heard pretty much every known cuss word by the time I was 5 or 6.

Yet, I still wouldn’t cuss in front of my parents.  In fact, I was so naive about cussing, the first time I flipped someone off in 5th grade… I thought it meant “shut up.”  Even as I got older, I was afraid to cuss… even to say damn or shit.  I would like to say it was because I respected my parents… but, it was more of I was afraid my dad would lay me out flat for saying those bad words.

As you have read on here before, I drag raced.  At the time, my grandpa (dad’s dad) was still alive and we would work on the car in his back garage.  He lived out in the country, with a corn field across the road… so, critters would occasionally greet us in the garage when we turned on the lights.

I will never forget the memories and the fun dad and I had working on that stupid car.  We gutted it, tore out the engine and built it back up.  It was pretty cold out in the garage during the winter, and I remember we used to have one of those kerosene heaters to keep us warm.

There is a point to the field and the cold.  I promise.

The day had finally come– to start the car.  I was so very excited.

We prepped everything.

Dad primed the carburetor.

I climbed in the driver’ seat, leaned back and waited for the signal.

Dad said “Turn her over.”

After a couple of cranks, some adjustments under the hood, she turned over and fired up.

And a mouse popped its head out of the vent RIGHT BESIDE ME.

He looked at me.

I looked at him.

He pulled his head back into the vent.

I screamed, “HOLY F@$#!” and bailed out of that car so fast, I am not even sure I opened the door.

My dad looked at me and calmly asked, “What’s wrong?”

I picked myself up off the garage floor, dusted myself off and said…

“There is a f*&%ing mouse in the car.”

He laughed.

I was allowed to cuss in front of my dad from then on.

A few weeks later at the race track, I went to get into the car to pull up to the staging lanes and found one of those little football helmets you can get out of the little machines for 50¢.

There was a note that read, “For your co-driver”

I still don’t know who left it.  The story spread like a viral video on You Tube.

I have a good idea who it was though.





  1. Boy, you went right for the biggest of all cuss words, skipping damn…shit etc. I believe, and please remember this, that I’m not religious, but that you may have had a little co-pilot in your race car and now you have one in life. Remember, your dad was a slow, methodical thinker, follow his ways and he will be there all your life watching over you and your family.

  2. What a wonderful memory to have of your dad. I mean the helmet, not the cussing. While your cussing is funny, not quite the touching story that the helmet is. 🙂

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