There’s a Car Under That Dust! by Helen Chappell
So, I was in this support group meeting for people who love food too much the other day, and one of the members had just come back from a trip to the Thunderbird Museum down south. He’s a car enthusiast, and this trip was a very big deal for him. Somehow or another, he ended up describing my ’87 Corolla, gently aging in the parking lot.
I, on the other hand, also love my vehicle, but I adhere to the Code of the Writer. Oh, it’s an unwritten code, but it exists, and like our secret handshake, it’s how we can recognize each other in the wild. Most writers have absolutely filthy cars. Not just dried leaves and gravel rolling around on the f loor mats, but enough dust and dirt on the outside to make our scratches and dents nearly invisible. Only bestselling writers, and those who have a rich spouse, drive shiny new high-end autos that are all sparkling and driven through the car wash once a week. That kind of clean is for wusses and amateurs. A real writer drives a beater, like mine. The death seat is a second office, filled with papers, notebooks, Kindles, old mail, magazines you mean to pass on to the next reader, works in progress, books you’ve borrowed or lent, and, in my case, a teddy bear. I found him by the side of the road, and he rides shotgun ~ a little auto spirit that keeps me from T-boning someone at the Death Intersection of Oxford Road and the Bypass. He fits in nicely with the old People magazines and the reporter’s notebooks I keep on
“Oh,” sez he, “You’re the dirty white car with the semi-f lat tires and the Who Died and Made You Elvis bumper sticker?” He was passive-aggressively teasing me, not because he dislikes me (I don’t think), but because for him, cars are a kind of religion ~ an object of veneration. His truck is immaculate. You could eat off his carburetor, I’ll bet. He probably washes and waxes it once a week, and has his own hand vacuum just to clean the f loor mats. I even bet he uses saddle soap on his leather seats. I mean, the man loves his vehicle. It must be a guy thing. 9