Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Three Years...

(Alternate Title: Maybe I Should've Taken A Picture.)

This Windstar that I've been drivin' these last few weeks sat in the tall grass beside Dad's house for about three years best I can guess. I've been trying to remember exactly when I last parked it there, but I keep gettin' confused. I do have a clue of real proof because there was a page out of the newspaper in the driver's door pocket that's from sometime in November of 2004. It kinda makes sense, 'cause I'm pretty sure that was the 2004 awards banquet when Bigfoot got mad and left at three-something in the morning; I remember walkin' all the way through the hotel in my PJ's to go move it closer to my room 'cause I wasn't sure if he'd locked the doors or not...

I'm still not entirely sure, but I think it came sometime after the silver VW and/or the big brown Chevy van, 'cause I remember lettin' The Mail Man drive both of those while we were near-dating, but I think he was outta-the-picture by the time this one turned up. I guess being "Car-Sentimental" makes me put history into categories by what I was drivin' at the time -- I know I had the VW duing racing season, 'cause I remember drivin' it to Booster Club Meetings; but I had the big van for that last banquet that was downtown; drove it for Christmas and most of the winter into the summertime, and then I got the Windstar sometime before the next banquet out on South Yale... Shit, which summer was that? It was freakin' hot outside and... Oh yeah, we took that VW to that stupid "rally" at the football field, so I know for sure that this Windstar came after that...

Gawd, that "rally" sucked. I love My Country, but I can't help but think there must be a better way to show it than to go sing the National Anthem, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and then sit in the hundred-and-some-degree sun on metal bleachers while some asshole from the uber-conservative AM radio station blathers on and on. Couldn't we show our patriotism by doing something besides just getting sunburned?

Something besides getting sunburned -- that's where I was going with all that. In the ashtray of this Windstar that's been parked for a little over three years, I found that tube/stick of sunscreen that I bought before that damn "rally." I remember it vividly because I was hoping to find "good" sunscreen that wasn't insanely expensive and came in a container small enough I could toss it in my purse. It was perfect; probably about an inch in diameter and a little less than three inches tall, it was setup like a really fat lipstick or really small deodorant stick -- it had a little twisty-thing at the bottom and a nice tight lid at the top. I (or we, oh dear) used it for the "rally" and then I tossed it in my purse just as planned.

Somewhere along the way, most likely in the blistering Oklahoma heat, I discovered that the lid wasn't completely keeping the "stick" contained quite like I thought it should. In an effort to keep greazy-sticky sunscreen goo out of the inside of my purse (I think it was the black Coach bag around that time), I must've tossed it into the ashtray of the Windstar instead of tossing it into the purse. I also remember when we thought the transmission was for-sure goin' South and I decided to get the SHO back out -- I had a hard time shuffling my usual accumulation of stuff from the van into my car, and I probably wasn't thinkin' about needin' sunscreen and wasn't thinkin' that there might've been anything inside that ashtray, so I just left it there when I moved everything else.

Closed, black ashtray, inside a closed, dark green van, parked outdoors through a little over three years of Oklahoma freeze-thaw-bake-freeze-again cycles. I'll let your imagination run with that one... Yeah, I'll bet your imagination really wants to wash those hands now, doesn't it?

When I started driving it again a few weeks ago, the first time I pulled that ashtray/cupholder thing out, I was almost surprised to see it; as in "heyyyy, so that's where I left that..." Even though I knew it was my tube of sunscreen and I had left it there and nobody else had been in the van or used the ashtray or the sunscreen, I was not about to touch it. All that heat and all that melting? Ewwww. Sunday when Clay and I were at Sonic, he tossed one of those stripedy peppermints in there and all I could think of was "Ewwww! Not There! Ewwww!!" and I was certainly not about to touch that peppermint either. I like those swirly peppermints, but I wouldn't fish one out of a mud puddle or a purse from a thrift store -- and I definitely was not about to eat one out of a puddle of three-year-old melted sunscreen stick.

So, today, I figured that since I'm going to claim "The Velvetteen Rabbit Theory"* and drive the Windstar to Springfield this weekend, today was as good a time as any to see if that ashtray came out without having to un-bolt the whole cupholder or tear the dash up or turn the van upside-down so I could see about gettin' that mess outta there. Sure enough, it does come out real easy; so I used the two-finger damn-sure-don't-wanna-touch-this-thing method to carry the ashtray to the bathroom where I could dump the near-empty tube out of the melty puddle and into the trash can. I had to beat the ashtray on the side of the trashcan to get the tube to come out, and just as I was about to toss the ashtray into the sink full of burning-hot-soapy water, I saw it.

Lodged floating in the gooey puddle of melted-out sunscreen, there it was...

Not too long ago, Robin mentioned "the fries that never rot." Now, I, as a fat kid, used to be a big fan of Mc D's. The most important words in that sentence are used to be. I didn't see that film "Supersize Me," I only heard about it second-hand through my buddy Pete and through NPR; but what I heard was enough to knock the Mc D's cravings right outta me. Here lately, even since we got one right here close to us in Skiatook, I still don't go there more than once every few months; and usually only if the HoMeSkOoLeRz are here and buggin' us for it. The handy thing about Skiatook Mc D's is that it's very close to a major grocery store, where I can grab a frozen dinner and microwave it.

Robin's mention of "the fries that never rot" made me grin, but I didn't really put much thought into it one way or another until today. Floating in the melted sunscreen nastiness, there it was. Easily recognized, none the worse for wear, was a single, two-inch, Mc D's french fry. I know without a doubt that it had been there a long, long time because I have not eaten anything from Mc D's in these last few weeks that I've been back in this van. I'm not kidding, it looked just like they look when you pull one out of the red box with the yellow and white stripes on the inside and there was absolutely no indication that it had been through three years of Oklahoma weather in a closed car; and if three years of Oklahoma weather won't rot ya, nothin' will. Robin was totally right, McFries never rot.

What about those Sonic Tots that I'm so crazy about? Should I stash one under the seat and see how long it stays?

I wish I'd thought to take a picture of the fry stuck in the sunscreen in the ashtray; or at least take a picture of the fry floating in the toilet after I banged the ashtray on the lid 'til it came un-stuck from the sunscreen and fell out into the water; but I didn't.

I've seen actual proof they never rot -- that page of the newspaper had turned yellow and got crumbly, the Renuzit air freshener that was in the back cupholder had dried and shrunk and dried and shrunk until there was nothing left but the plastic cover. Everything rots, except McFries.

The sunscreen itself is pretty relentless too; that ashtray has been soakin' in that hot water for quite a while and it's not turnin' loose as easy as most ordinary car-crud usually does. I'd think about tossin' it in the dishwasher, but we eat our food off of those dishes...

I'm really not itchin' to put my hands into that water and try to scrub that stuff out. Since I don't smoke, maybe I don't really need to put the ashtray back into the van.

More later. _\,,/

*: I'll write about "The Velvetteen Rabbit Theory" and how it relates to Vehicular Reliability when I get back from Springfield -- as in after I see if the Windstar makes it to Springfield and back without me having to rent a U-Haul and a Tow Dolly to get it home. I'm sure it'll be fine. I'm sure it'll be fine -- that's the main point of TVRT. Heh.

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