How Not To Wash A Car

As most of you know, I have a rather unfortunate aversion to those everyday commonplace tasks that are necessary for the survival of the Western world, such as mowing the lawn and carting pennies to the bank. At one point in my life, and admittedly perhaps later in my life when my worries will mostly center around when to schedule my bypass and what brand of cat food I’m having for lunch, I found these tasks to be endearingly charming, perhaps even relaxing, but by no means a net negative on my life. But now, the indignity passed upon me by the responsibilities of modern life in the form of putting away the Christmas lights and vacuuming the floor is a burden Atlas himself would have let roll out onto the dark recesses of the netherworld with nary a guilty thought askance.

Add to this list washing the car.

Again, at one point in my life washing the car was a remotely fun exercise; getting to be outside for a bit accomplishing something other than sitting in my chair thinking idle thoughts about (mostly) women wasn’t the worst thing I could be doing with my life. And I did it the way my ancestors did it: free, at home, with well water and a six year old bottle of Spic N Span bought specifically for the purpose, and the rag we used to bury the dog in set aside so we didn’t ‘accidentally” use one of the good washcloths in rubbing multicolored bird droppings off of the windshield.

Well, a few days ago I finally decided that the car needed to be washed before the onset of winter, because there’s no balls on way I’m doing it in the dark recesses of the netherworld, otherwise known as February. I made this determination after a rigorous examination of the facts, namely, it was the last week of December and it was almost 60 degrees out.

Alas, the appropriate accoutrements for washing the car had long been packed away under the laughably inept prediction that there would be a winter this year. So after a personal cost/benefit analysis I decided that I was going to drive the car to the car wash.

Now, it has been a while since I’ve been to a car wash station. The last time I went you needed to deposit pieces of eight in the vacuum to get it to run. Indentured servants would wax the car. So it wasn’t without a small amount of trepidation that I pulled into the concrete stall.

The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t like my neighbors. They were two ne’er-do-wells—damn, am I getting old—who apparently watched all those Cheech and Chong movies in an attempt to learn how to speak Hippie. Conversations seemed to depend on what the object of the conversation was going to be:

Jackleg #1: Dude, what are you doin’?
Jackleg #2: Man, what are you TALKIN’ about?
Jackleg #1: No, no, no, no, man, that’s it, man, that’s just the thing.
Jackleg #2: Yeah, dude, no kidding, right?
Jackleg #1: Got that right, dude. [high five, I think. I hope.]

The second thing I noticed was that I had failed to bring any change. Now, granted, the only thing I remember about the car wash was bringing what seemed to be at the time the equivalent of the federal deficit in quarters along for the trip. Of course, the other thing I remember is that I am pretty much a forgetful idiot, so all I had was a few disheveled Missouri reject quarters the Coke machine at work won’t even accept (and she’s easy) and plenty of pennies, dimes, and Chuck E. Cheese tokens in my coat. (Oh, that’s right, since the potentiality for getting soapy and/or dirty is high, I have a specific coat I use for the sole purpose of car washing and, apparently, going to Chuck E. Cheese.) So I couldn’t use the vacuum machine without change.

Helpfully, though, the machine for the actual car wash took dollars. And, coincidentally, that’s how much it cost to wash the car! Or, at least, that’s how much it costs for two minutes and twenty seconds worth of a car wash. I looked somewhat dubiously at the cryptic list of methods for car washing including, but not limited to: rinse, soap, soapy rinse, hot wax, blow dry, rinse, foamy soap, cold wax, rinse, rinse, soapy foam, toasted without pickle, and rinse. I determined by looking at my car and calculating the amount of bird crap on it that I was going to boil this down to rinse, soap with that big ol’ brush, and rinse.

Well, the initial rinsing went fine. But the brush with the soap on it—well, that was a different beast altogether. If there were three cameras and a live studio audience it couldn’t have been staged any better. I slip my dollar in and race over to the brush, lifting it gently from the cradle. Nothing happens. So I wait. Nothing happens some more. So, like every vacant-faced neighbor in every stupid sitcom ever made, I peer gingerly down into the brush inches away from my face to see where the soap is and—POOF—out comes a brilliant spray of suds to blast my face and my car wash coat all over with lather. And—I swear this is true—I did a slow burn to no one in particular—just in case anyone was watching. (“Hey, dude! All right, man! That’s just it, you know?”) If only there were a muted trombone doing the old “wah-wah-wah-waaaaah” that you used to hear in those old Merrie Melody cartoons when Elmer Fudd peers into the cannon that he thinks that wascilly wabbit had burrowed into, only to find the Korean 9-year-old that got paid fourteen cents an hour to color in the scene.

Anyway, Steve’s Big Trip to the Big Car Wash was largely a success. Even though I didn’t get to clean out the inside of the car and run the alarmingly real risk of finding asiago cheese and herb trees growing in the passenger side seat by March, I had least made the token effort fighting the good fight against dirty vehicles and sedentary musings about pretty girls. Dude, you, like, know? High five. I think.

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