The Washed Car

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August 7, 2012 by jooshanoosh

When I was young, my Dad used to get up at six in the morning and head out to the garage to wash his car.  Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, he would drag the hose in under the garage door and bathe his favorite son (he had five human ones and one machine one). His specialty was the tires: “I don’t understand these guys that drive around in their souped-up Camaros, with every detail toothbrush-cleaned and then have filthy tires!” He was right, of course; the tires are hands down the most gratifying moment of washing the car.  With just some spritz-ez of Armor All, your ten-year-old tire rubber gleams up to a sexy patent leather shine where, at just the right angle, the reflection of the sun can blind a man.  And that’s what you want really, in a tire, blinding UV Rays searing other drivers’ retinas as you pass, leaving a wake of sightless, but also breathless, wreckage behind you.

When he was 16, my Dad drove a yellow convertible Triumph; let’s say this one:


And so, when he was 40 he bought himself a brown convertible Triumph; let’s say this one:

Notice the red-wall Tires…not white, but RED!

And she was really the one who got my Dad out of bed in the morning to wash the tires.  She was the one who, rather then suck the coolness from him (see: me and my 4 brothers), she fuel injected him with coolness as he cruised low down state street in Orem on his way to his job…at the bank.

I still think of that car, for I loved her, too.  I was the one driving her when she got in her one and only accident.  I was 16 and I had piled in my two friends into her stern.  That’s right, one in the passenger and one stuffed into the space where the roof could go if you put it down…tonight, it was up as it was Winter.  We are driving down Freedom Blvd and I see this Cat start to pull out of a parking lot on my right. {I’m using ‘Cat’ here in the Sinatraesce ‘cool kid’ lingo, hoping to later contrast my ‘hip with-it’ youth to the other driver’s aged wet blanket squareness…let’s see how this turns out.}

Surely he’s got to see me, I think to myself.

“Surely he’s got to see me,” I say out loud to my friends.

He did not. He pulled right out onto the street and into my back right fender. For crying out loud. So I pull over and he pulls over and I jump out with all the fierce righteous convection of any 16-year-old anywhere. He opens the door and the first thing to exit the car is a cane, followed by the most feeble creature I had ever seen.  He was a Jim Henson creation, but not nearly as sturdy as a Muppet, more like those “Dark Crystal” Bird Men that hunched over and shuffled around. As was previously stated, it was Winter and this three legged stick figure starts Dick Van Diking all over the ice. No joke, even in my adolescent fury I could tell that any fierce and cutting remark I could summon would most certainly fall on deaf ears…L. I. T. E. R. A. L. L. Y.     

So I find out that getting into an accident is really just like being in high school; you are forced into being polite to people who deserve your disdain, you go back and forth about who should have done what to get this or that done, and then, after a useless and unproductive conversation involving the authorities, you have to take down information to deal with later…at home.

I finish with Gargamel and head into Smiths to call my home; one of my sidekicks–the one stuffed in the back–has abandoned me and the other is reviewing her options.  This is a terrifying walk.  Only now as I am remembering it do I realize that I had to go INTO Smiths get change for a dollar and find a payphone to call home…weird. So I get the money and I put it into the machine and I look back at my Father’s car: the tail light is hanging by a wire, the bumper is lying on the ground at one end, and the fender is crumpled up like a beer can in a bar after the last swig of beer has been swug and the can has been…well, crumpled like my Dad’s fender. And even then, at that awful moment, my first and only accident in my life, this crossing a horrible rite of passage, I can’t help but think, “At least he didn’t scuff the tires.”

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