18 September 2006

Hemingway, Melville . . . Melville, Hemingway

My sister has always had a proper perspective on aging.  If someone ever gives her a hard time about turning a certain age, say forty, she responds "Hey, it beats not turning forty."

Wise woman, she.

Next spring, coincidentally, I shall be turning forty.  Other than the obligatory reaction of "ALREADY???" I am cool with it.  Indeed, age is nothing but a number.  I see my actual age as an average of my physical and mental ages.  Physically, I feel like I'm about fifty.  Mentally, well, it's a stretch to say that I feel as old as thirty.  Let's just say that I don't feel all that grown up all the time.  Perhaps that's not a good thing, and I'm sure that will change once there are more people around the house who's very life depend upon me.

I do have a point to this: reaching forty seems like a confirmation that at least I have been able to fend for myself in this great big ol' nasty world of ours.  I've made it this far without getting on the cover of the latest "Darwin Awards" book.  That should mean something.

Then again . . .

About ten days ago, the day before my wife came home from a trip to Hawaii, I took a look at her car and realized that my short trip to visit my sister and her family over the Labor Day weekend in that car left a great deal of bugs, or more accurately what was left of them, all over the front.  It needed a wash, so I took it to a gas station with a drive-thru car wash. When I was done filling the tank, I got a receipt and drove behind the building to where the wash was located.

This is where our adventure begins.

The first step in this process is to drive up to a monitor just before the entrance of the car wash, and as you do this the front left wheel of the car gets automatically lined up with a device that will propel your car through the process. For step two, you should put the car in neutral.  Then, on the receipt you receive for your gas purchase, there is a five digit number that when entered in the monitor should activate the mechanism that will propel your car as the wash process starts.  This is step three.

Apparently, I skipped step two.  I would have fixed this had I not been confused by step three.  I entered the code, and nothing happened.  The read-out where a message had asked me to enter my code hadn't changed, and I assumed I would have to enterthe code again.  Before I could do this, I managed to drop the slip of paper that the receipt was printed on, and it fell to the floor under my legs.  As I reached down to pick up the slip, I must have taken my foot off the brake.  It was at this moment that the monitor decided that I had indeed entered the proper code.  The mechanism started and the car, which was still in drive, lurched forward.  Oops.

When the car started to move, I had my head down and I was slightly leaning forward, my hand extended to reach the slip of paper I had dropped.  The window on the driver's side of the car was still open.  That's "when it hit me":

1. Figuratively--that the car was moving faster than it should


2. Literally--a torrent of suds and warm water blasted through the open window just as I was looking up.

My first instinct was to get the window closed, and even though I was unable to see I was able to locate the switch to close the window.  However, if anyone from Volkswagen is reading this, I 'd like to suggest that you increase the velocity of your automatic windows a bit.  I think another five gallons of soap and water got into the car before the window closed.  The soap.  Oh man, the soap.  Lots of it, lots of sudsy, frothy bubbles.  Had I been in a tub, it would have been heavenly.  But since I was in a car and the suds apparently had been shot out of a cannon, things were not heavenly.  My eyes immediately began to sting.  Fortunately, there was a half-consumed bottle of water in the cup holder next to the driver's seat and I was able to grasp it, tilt my head back, and pour the water into my eyes.

When I could see again a second or so later I was about three-fourths of the way through the wash cycle, at the part where tubes blow hot air at the car and dry the remaining water away.  I thought it was odd that nothing was coming from the tubes, as the trademark roar that accompanies the blast of hot air was missing.  It was at this point that I realized that I had never shifted the car into neutral, and as my car and I emerged from the tunnel it hit me that I had just speed-washed my wife's yellow Beetle, both inside and out.

I was inside the car wash less than thirty seconds, and I did what any self-respecting almost-forty-year-old male would have done once he realized that he should have been inthe wash for a few minutes longer: I got the hell out of there.  Of the seventy-five thousand bugs that met their demise upon the hood and grill of this car, I think exactly three were cleaned off.  And while I criticize VW for the speed of their electric windows, I will say that water beads up and off their upholstery excellently.

I drove home looking like I had went toe-to-toe all afternoon with the Old Man's Marlin, and I got a few odd looks at stoplights.  When I got home I wiped down the inside of the car and rinsed my eyes out again.  I also decided that I would apologize and just tell my wife that I didn't get a chance to get the car washed if she said anything about it.

Actually, that didn't pan out.  I wound up telling her the story of how I turned a simple car wash into three chapters of Moby Dick.  Her response, aside from a considerable amount of laughter?

"How have you managed to live this long?"


jevanslink said...

I've always been afraid that I'd get soaped.  But I didn't think it was actually possible.  Now I'm afraid.  I'm very afraid.

Mrs. L

ber144 said...

Mrs. L: you have nothing to fear, unless I happen to be driving.