I’ve told Shaun that my car likes dirt. Like a good hunting dog, it enjoys charging through dust billows, mud puddles, and downpours in the effort to guide me places.
Once there, it likes to loll in the hot sunshine and dry. Baking the mud into the finish. While it draws the line at mice, it doesn’t care if a tiny spider lives behind the side mirror, weaving silvery strands that frame the mirror.
I explain to Shaun: my car enjoys a more…bohemian….lifestyle. It doesn’t mind what life throws up: flies, manure pile, gravel roads, mud, bird poop, dust. It even tolerates Grand Opening fliers stuck under its wiper at big box stores.
It’s a happy-go-lucky car. It doesn’t complain about drive through car washes, though I know it hates them.
Shaun’s car refuses to unlock if I’m wearing riding boots. It makes me change my shoes and put my boots in a plastic bag in the trunk. When I shut the trunk, the locks pop up. If I’m carrying a water bottle? It wants to know if I’m taking it with me when I get out.
We find each other annoying.
It would drive through the car wash daily if possible. Our cars have decidedly different expectations of life.
Shaun’s car, in its Happy Place: the parking lot at her office, watching the sun rise over San Francisco Bay;
My car, in its Happy Place, in barn parking, watching turkeys run through the mud:
To me, this situation is cut and dried:
- Shaun has a city car
- Jane has a country car
Problem. Shaun believes my country car is really a city car that I refuse to keep up properly. “Could you just wash it? Occasionally?”, she pleads, pausing. I can see she’s weighing whether she should say more. Finally, she says, carefully: “The neighbor asked me how it was holding up as an off-road vehicle”.
Okay, I get it. An off-road station wagon? This is not a Shaun/Jane car issue. It sounds like I’m irritating the neighborhood’s sense of cleanliness. Poor Shaun.
“I DO drive it through the car wash once a month or so…”, I lie, rather defensively.
“Right”, says Shaun, seeing right through me, and raising the ante. “It’s not getting all the dirt off. It needs a hand wash.”
I can understand her position: after all, she was the recipient of Neighbor Sarcasm.
Pick one, these are the reasons I tell Shaun I don’t hand wash (FYI: I believe them):
- It’s too hard, It hurts my back
- I get soaked, I hate that
- Bending over gives me a headache
- It takes too long
- No matter what I do, I get streaks
- I’m too old for manual labor
- Someone behind me is always fuming, waiting for the wash rack
(Yup, our Homeowners Association built a covered wash rack with a central drain and handy soda machine, so we can more easily keep our cars clean.)
Shaun’s heard all the reasons. “It takes 15 minutes”, she says, “what’s so hard about that?”
“Fine”, I say. “I’ll drive it through the car wash tomorrow.”
I was thinking about this yesterday while I was slathering soap on my horse. It’s easier to wash your horse, even though:
- Cars don’t want to kill you if you wash their headlights
- Cars don’t deliberately step on the hose to cut off the water supply
- They don’t toss their hoods in the air trying to get out of their windshields being washed
- They don’t swing their trunks around to avoid getting their tail lights scrubbed
- Once they’re parked, they don’t move: no worry that a 1,000 lb. tire might accidentally stomp on your foot.
- They don’t pester you for gasoline the whole time, because a former owner once bribed them with petrol to stand still.
- They don’t lash your face with a wet seat belt when you’re bent over trying to decide how white that white wall is, really.
I had a blast. I was soaked. I was happy, and (drumroll)…
…Hudson looked like this for 15 minutes…
It IS easier. The only similarity?
Someone else is always waiting for the wash rack, fuming…