11.29.2008

Quick, to the Crudmobile!

I know it's time to wash my car when the neighborhood kids use their fingers to write in the filth: SANDBLAST ME.

Some guys wash their cars all the time. The sky spits five raindrops or the wind kicks up a little dust or a weekend arises, and they're scrubbing and rinsing and patting dry, as gently and lovingly as they would a baby's backside.

I'm not one of those guys. I feel that a vehicle should be professionally washed once a year, typically in the spring, to get off the winter mudstains and road salt and spattered tar. The rest of the year, to heck with it. I simply don't care.

Some men take great pride in their cars. They motor around in their hot rods or their Hummers, stroking some psychological need by having the coolest ride, the loudest pipes, the biggest gearshift.

I drive a minivan. If my manhood were tied up in my wheels, so to speak, I'd be in big trouble. Once I took the aerodynamic-as-a-stick-of-butter family-vehicle plunge and gave up on ever driving a cool car, keeping the Nerdmobile clean seemed beside the point.

If my minivan starts to look too grubby, I might stop by one of those do-it-yourself car washes, where a pocketful of quarters earns a few minutes' wrestle with a powerful jet sprayer that will recoil and hit you squarely in the face if you're not careful, not that that's ever happened to me.

But those car washes don't really get a vehicle clean. They get it wet. Drive around until the water dries, then examine the exterior. All the road film and fingerprints will still be there. You'll still be able to read "WASH ME" on the back window.

A truly clean car requires scrubbing with a rag or those giant, thundering brushes in a drive-through car wash. Some version of elbow grease, either human or mechanical. I don't care enough to make the effort.

Sure, I could afford to have it done on a regular basis, but the truth is that it never even occurs to me until the van gets so filthy that the neighbors start circulating a petition.

Am I a total slob who can't be bothered to get off the sofa long enough to take care of his possessions? OK, don't answer that. I'll rephrase the question. Why do I (and guys like me, assuming there are any) not care about a sparkling car while, for other men, it's a top priority?

I think it's because I drove crummy cars for so long. Compacts with rusty wheel wells and Jeepettes with dented doors and "pre-owned" sedans with upholstery brocaded by baby spit-up. Washing those cars wouldn't have made much difference. In some cases, the dirt might've been all that was holding them together.

When I went shopping for the minivan, I intentionally got one the color of dust. Trying to hide my sloth from others, I suppose, trying to conceal the fact that I don't consider grime a crime.
But now that I'm thinking about it, maybe I'll troop down to the local car wash and pony up the bucks to get someone to scrub away the crud and chisel the bug guts off the bumpers.

Yeah, I'm going to get right on that, soon as the playoffs are over. I've got to get up off the sofa anyway. Some idiot wrote "WASH ME" on the TV screen.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

My favorite sighting was the shiny, black Ford F-350, tricked out with, among other polished modifications, a chrome gas cap the size of a dinner plate and a gilded $ on it. Mind you, this was witnessed while I was pumping $4+ per into my beater.

Philbert said...

Mr. Brewer, I knew there was something about you I liked. I've had cars stolen and when the cops asked what color it was, I'd have to say, "I don't remember."