Car Wash Karma? The Perils of a Clean Car
By Janis Hirsch
Is dirt a color?
My son washes his car every other day and he does so with the tenderness of a new parent giving a baby his first sponge bath. I swear I once heard him apologizing to his car because it was raining.
My husband got to work early last week and instead of frittering away his free time overpaying at Starbucks or surfing Facebook he took out a squirt bottle of water and a chamois, both of which he carries around with him the way I carry a purse and cleaned the spokes of his tires. For an hour.
My car is filthy. It’s the car that carries the dogs, the groceries, gardening supplies, the farmer’s market bounty, the beach towels and the Christmas tree (yes, we’re Christmas Jews). It’s also filthy because I don’t wash it.
Oh, I used to love going to the car wash with its vast greeting card selection and “Best of”-people I’ve-never-heard-of cds. Then I got bored. Then I got cheap.
Buh-by, car wash. Hello, giving myself 3 Weight Watchers Activity Points for washing it myself. I was out in the fresh air waving a soapy “hi there” to my neighbors of 23 years whose names I still don’t know. I took pride in my hard work.
Kids, here’s the sad fact: manual labor gets really old really fast. First, I skipped vacuuming the floor mats and seats. Then I stopped doing the interior windows. Then I stopped doing any windows.
And then I just stopped.
Oh, I still cared about my car: I threw away the wrappers of the protein bars I ate while driving (btw, “protein bars” is code for candy, but then you knew that already). If I’d parked under a tree where a flock of sparrows were having a pre-colonoscopy cleanse I wiped off the evidence. If a box of Kashi Go Lean Crunch I was noshing on spilled all over the front seat, I shook out the floor mats, well, you know, after the 5 Second Rule expired… by an hour.
So bottom line, my car got progressively filthier. On those rare occasions when I squeegeed the windows at the gas station, it looked like my windshield was crying dirt. Which is why I decided to get my car detailed while I was out of town last week.
That not-so-fresh Car Wash feeling
I got back home and saw my Prius sparkling like she’s never sparkled before. Even the dings and dents looked blinged out. Then I opened the door, slid onto my slippery polished leather seats and drove off.
Within seconds, my eyes began to water and my head began to throb. Oh dear God, my car smelled like a bus station bathroom. I hasten to add, there is a reason why Opium by Yves St. Laurent features notes of amber, vanilla and cloves instead of fruity Japanese chewing gum and urinal cakes.
I opened all the windows. Nothing. I drove behind forty year-old trucks belching forty year-old diesel. My car still smelled but now my headache had a headache.
I left all the windows open overnight which is something I never do because I’m convinced that that’s an open invitation to murderers and snakes to hide in the backseat.
The next morning my innocent little car, who’d done nothing wrong her whole life, smelled as bad as it had the day before only now there was a staleness hanging over the sickly sweetness. Remember how horrible your grandmother’s apartment building hallway smelled? Like that if a float from the Rose Bowl parade decayed in it.
I lit lavender incense and drove around with the windows closed. I sprinkled Baking Soda on the floor mats. I left a slice of white bread soaking in white vinegar inside it overnight which was both ineffective and unappetizing. Some car wash!
Eau de trans fats
I am left no choice. Tomorrow my first stop will be Nate and Al’s Deli where I will buy dill pickles and onion bagels and drive around with the bag open. I will then head over to Versailles Cuban Restaurant (I don’t know why it’s called that either unless maybe Marie Antoinette had a thing for Chuletas De Puerco Empanisadas) and I will buy their Famoso Pollo Versailles which is garlic chicken that has never not spilled on the way home. I will get Animal-Style Fries at In N Out and for good measure and bad cholesterol I will drive to the Original Tommy’s for a Chili Burger.
I will then eat every bit of the food I purchased with my windows up while parked in the hot sun. And for good measure, I will burp with impunity all the way home.
None of this would have happened if my car hadn’t been detailed.
And I am planning on having it detailed at the car wash once a month.