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Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014

A Man's Car is His Castle

Sunday, June 20, 2010

(Photo)
Jim Mullen
My car is my office, my filing cabinet, my spare bedroom, my art collection, my summer home, my beach cabana, my sauna, my think tank, my den, my gym locker, my golf locker, my tool chest, my media center, my breakfast nook, my easy chair, my laundry basket, my command center. It is from my car that I manage my far-flung media empire and vast fortune. I also use it now and then to run errands and get around town. It is my domain, my castle, my Fortress of Solitude, my isolation booth, chamber of secrets, my -- well, you get the picture.

Yesterday, Sue borrowed it because hers was getting an oil change or a state inspection or something. Today, when I climbed in, the seat was too far forward, the rearview mirror was aimed at the trunk, the radio was on the wrong station, the cup holder was clean and my change dish had been emptied out and replaced with crisp, new dollar bills. The passenger/mobile office/soda dispenser seat was empty, all the CDs were back in their cases, and the steering wheel didn't have its familiar, comforting stickiness. The dust from the dashboard was gone, the car smelled different, like the way it did the day I drove it off the used-car lot. She had taken it to a carwash and had told them she wanted "the works." There's no telling how long it will take me to get everything back to normal -- weeks, months, maybe.

"I had everything just the way I like it. That car was a work of art. Taking it to a car wash is like putting the Mona Lisa in the washing machine to clean it! What have you done? What would you think if I went to your office and threw away all the fast food wrappers and pizza boxes and then vacuumed the papers off your desk top and sprayed air freshener all over everything?"

"There are no pizza boxes in my office. You could eat off the floor. And you probably would if I let you. This was an intervention. You're a menace to yourself and others. You're a serial slob."

"Am not."

"I found mail in your car from last year."

"I was going to open it."

"That's wonderful. Except you were supposed to send it. Now I know why we got so few Christmas cards this year."

"I don't think I can get past this without years of long, difficult and expensive therapy."

"Or you could just suck it up and say, 'Thank you.' I'm sorry, but it had to be done."

But she wasn't sorry at all. I heard her telling one of her many husband-hating friends on the phone that she'd had "his beater sprayed with antiseptic, and it still smells like dirty socks and old sponges. You'd swear someone was living in there. The floor is stickier than a movie theater's. It's amazing that he doesn't get a ticket for littering every time he parks it. You've heard of those guys who get buried in their cars? That may be the only way to get rid of it. Of course, I'd probably have to get a toxic-waste exemption."

"Haven't you ever heard that a man's car is his castle?"

"Of course, not. You just made that up. Anyway, your car is not a castle. It's a mobile landfill. I'm surprised you haven't been arrested for hauling trash without a license."

"There's just no pleasing some people. If I bought a little red sports car, you'd complain about it."

"No, I wouldn't. I'd take it and you could have my car. I'll throw some garbage in it, roll up the windows, and leave it in the sun for a week or two so you'll feel at home in there."

Jim Mullen is the author of "It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life" and "Baby's First Tattoo." You can reach him at jim_mullen@myway.com

Jim Mullen
The Village Idiot