Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Like God and the Devil, love is in the details

LET US SPRAY: One of the reasons I never took a shine
to washing cars: Among the many nicknames I suffered
as the youngest was "Little Squirt."
For Father's Day this year, my daughter Ria came to my house and detailed my 2011 Chev Malibu. Before I share five reasons Ria's was one of the best gifts imaginable, I should tell you I'm not a car-washing type of guy.

For one thing, as long as I can remember, I've left the exterior washing of vehicles up to, well, God. 

The insides? I have a problem there. I blame my parents, for the simple reason  they went and had me last. My father, Tom, ran a fleet of buses and in some ways, it was like growing up on a farm.  There was always stuff that needed doing. But before I was old enough to drive, the only contribution I could make was using a stable broom to sweep out the buses.  

All my brothers and sisters were older and could have responsible-type jobs while I was stuck holding the broom. I was the 10th kid out of 10--I probably spent way more time than most wishing I was bigger. Wishing I could drive one of the buses; wishing I could count coins. Or shave. Or have hair in my arm pits.  

LUCKY SEVEN: Norma, Alex, Tom, Bertholde,
Charlene, Mary and Pat having a having a jolly great time
even though (maybe because?) Ed and I weren't around yet.
Not that I dwell on this much, but check out this picture. That's my siblings before my brother Ed and I arrived. They appear way too happy for my taste. How unfair is that? They seem absolutely thrilled with the world, except for maybe the youngest Alex, who appears to be eyeing our pregnant-with-Ed mom, sensing he is about to be eclipsed.  

But that's all behind me now. 

Besides, we're talking about how when Ria detailed my car Sunday, I got the best Father's Day gift ever--it was way more satisfying than I'd expected. 

Here're five reasons why.

1) The car liked it. Since I started working from home a year and some months ago, the Malibu has been sadly ignored. Time was, the Malibu and I had a relationship. We shared important moments together; we took each other for granted, and then WHAM! The pandemic hit and I walked out. Like the man in one of those terrible stories in which one night Dad goes out for a bag of milk but never comes back. These days, on the rare time I climb behind the wheel, I feel guilty. Indeed I'm surprised  the people on the radio, who I used to listen to daily, still talk to me.

 If you think I used this photo just to 
exploit that play on words, you
just might be right.
2) My vehicle got cleaned and I didn't have to lift a finger. You know when you're young and your dad says things that make you cringe? One of  Tom's was, if we were out for dinner and somebody asked how he liked the meal, Tom'd say, "Well I didn't have to cook or clean up. It can't get any better than that." Of course I now say the same thing (and cringe when I do), but fact remains, whenever I think I'm acting half the man my father was, I'm happy.

3) After the detailing was done, it was great fun to look really closely at parts of the car that usually get ignored, like the hugely complicated prism-like material around the brake and signal lights. Examine this stuff closely and you'll see it sparkle and reflect and make light dance and it'll remind you that "Hey! Somebody had to design that!" The ingenuity that goes into a modern automobile is mindboggling. I know. I sound like I just smoked a joint. I didn't. 

4) Did I tell you my daughter Ria is a licensed funeral director? True fact. Nobody knows how to shine up a car like an undertaker. But more importantly. With a few waves of her cloths and dabs of surgically applied wax, Ria made the old Chevy look like it just rolled off the assembly line. So down the road... when my turn comes to get detailed... I trust her to do just as good a job on me.

5) And speaking of time--and other things--passing, the single most important reason Ria detailing my car was so great? It was way back there in the first paragraph. I got to spend an afternoon with my kid.