It’s been 2 years since we bought “Sexy” the Chrysler Pacifica and it's already looking a little long-in-the-tooth these days. If dogs age at a 7-1 ratio, my cars age at 20-1. It's not faulty mechanically-- it’s just been lived-in and broken-in, like an old shoe…or an old purse…or an old dumpster.
When I drove our used 2004 White Beauty off the lot, I was in a 1950s movie, fake scenery whizzing behind me, scarf casually wrapped over my head, dark glasses, bright lipstick and hair blowing. I turned up the radio, opened the sunroof and I was young again in my new sexy ride.
Well, a lot sexier than our Durango, anyway.
“Sexy” was pristine at first: black interior, GPS, leather seats, “bitchen” stereo. I took a vow to the car, “I promise to keep you clean, and not forsake your floor mats in favor of salty boot prints. I will not allow gum-wad sculptures to be constructed in your ashtrays or spill drinks on your fluffy carpeting.” I meant every word.
I lovingly kept it clean…until the first child-pop-spill spoiled my perfect image of her. It was stained…impure. Little by little, used Kleenex after drinking straw, it became a wastebasket with wheels. Clothes, hats, gloves, CDs, DVDs went askew in the glove box; window scrapers lay across the rear seat like pick-up sticks. I’d vacuum, but not with the passion I had before. Where I had once put a sheet in the trunk to transport our hairy dog, now, Jasmine jumps in and out, depositing her fur willy-nilly. “Sexy” is no longer.
“Sexy” is one in a long line of “Heidi” cars that went from that “New-Car Smell” to “Eau de Animal Rendering Plant.” My 1987 Dodge Omni, “Precious,” had a stench that I felt sure would be sniffed up and down by cadaver dogs. I eventually found the culprit--a potato had frozen and thawed and rotted under the back seat. I removed it. A week later, the smell remained. I found another rotting potato in another location. That had to be it. A week later… same thing. Ultimately it was determined that a whole bag of potatoes had somehow opened and rolled throughout my car, each leaving behind a schmiere of mold. “Precious” was renamed “Putrid.”
Presently “Sexy” has a road-salt coat on. Where a fast-foot drink cup became soft on the bottom, the drink holder is filled with liquid that sloshes when I stop or turn. The entire back seat is sticky. My daughter’s window is cloudy from bank-sucker fingerprints, nose prints and messages like “Hi, Mom!” written in window frost.
I feel terribly guilty. Yesterday, in the morning light, from outside my car, I swear I saw the words, “Kill Me” written in condensation fog from the inside.