Car washin’ philosophy
By Lisa Smartt
Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 8:01 pm
I wash my car at least once a year. Let the record show that I washed it on March 26. I’m good for ’09. The reason I’m so negligent in washing my vehicle? You’ll have to ask a therapist. But I have a sneaking suspicion it’s the same reason I rarely floss my teeth, don’t know where the bank statement is and have broccoli casserole leftovers in the fridge from before Thanksgiving. Thankfully, I’m a lot of fun at parties. Whew!
It was a beautiful March day. Cool, not cold. Breezy, not windy. Sunny, not cloudy. You get the picture. I naively pulled my car into one of those automatic car washin’ deals, which operates solely on sensory technology. I felt like I was 16 and I was failing my driver’s test all over again. The automated car wash machine lit up a sign which said, “Pull forward.” I pulled forward. Then, it said, “Back up.” I backed up. This particular machine actually tooted its horn at me, at one point. I didn’t know whether the toot meant, “Good job, Girlfriend! You’re in the right place.” OR “What the heck are you doing? Go away and never come back.” I was confused, so I just kept backing up and pulling forward until the people behind me got out of their cars cursing, screaming and jumping up and down. OK. Not really. They were compassionate. They could tell by lookin’ at the Saturn, that we didn’t exactly “frequent” automatic car washes. Plus, with all the flashing lights and the horn tooting, and the backing up and pulling forward, I think I was putting on a pretty good show. They should have had to deposit an extra dollar just for the entertainment value.
Finally, the car wash started its water show. This made me dizzy and car sick. Yes, I got car sick from sitting in a stationary vehicle being sprayed with pink foam. No, I won’t be appearing on “The Great Race” anytime soon. After the car wash was complete, the sign lit up which said, “Pull forward. You’re done. We’re glad to be finished with you. Grab a green hose and wash your car at home.” Well, maybe that wasn’t the exact wording of the sign. It’s just that by then, there was a pretty good line waiting ... and I was nauseous and feeling a tad out of place. Oh, but that “out of place” feeling was just beginning.
There are two kinds of car owners in the vacuuming area. The kind who are brushing their car mats with a hair brush for the second time this week ... and the kind who are prying half-eaten Halloween Blow Pops from the backseat ashtray. At one point, there was silence in the air. That’s when I realized everyone was watching in awe as I filled the trash can to overflowing. “I have two boys,” I said meekly. But, they saw right through me. All the “car mat brushers” knew the truth. They recognize their own ... and I was not their own. They knew that my car looked like this 15 years ago, that my car had always looked like this. They knew it had nothing to do with kids or lack of time. They knew I was a “trashed out car” person and there was little hope for my conversion. The sweat was gathering on my brow until it hit me. I wouldn’t have to face these people for another year. And with a broad smile, I said under my breath, “I’m Lisa and I’m a lot of fun at parties.”
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.15.09