I am a neat person. I like things tidy and orderly. Everything has a place. Even my clutter is organized, confined to well-stacked piles in only a few spaces. Too much mess stresses me out. I start to feel suffocated, claustrophobic and out of control. I know, I know, I have issues. Anyway … because of this, my house is generally very tidy. Not necessarily clean — the windows need washing, the blinds need dusting and the baseboards need a polish — but picked up and kempt.
Then there’s my car. I drive an SUV, but some days, it’s more like a garbage truck. The dirt, the trash, the smell … it is my Achilles heel. Apparently, rapper Chamillionaire isn’t the only one “Ridin’ Dirty.” (Okay, so “ridin’ dirty” in the song has a totally different meaning, but you get the idea.)
I guess I should take some of the blame. It is my car after all. And I am a “just in case” kind of person, which means I am nothing if not prepared. My trunk is stuffed with a host of items that I may or may not ever use, including: a first aid kit, extra mouth guards and athletic tape, rain ponchos and umbrellas, a blanket, a towel, a trash bag, reusable shopping bags and, of course, a spare tire and jack. The front glovebox and storage compartments are stuffed with quarters, tissues, lip balm, Tic Tacs, lollipops (or some form of sucking candy, such as butterscotch candies or Jolly Ranchers), charging cables, a small pad and pen, Advil, a hair tie or two and a bevy of store loyalty cards, gift cards and coupons. It’s a lot, I know, but all that crap is organized, contained and somewhat hidden. So now that I think about it, it’s not my fault … I blame my kids.
My boys and their friends — more boys between the ages and 8 and 12 — create chaos in the two rows of seating that make up the middle part of my car. It’s mostly my own kids — 95% or more even — but throw in a few extra boys for carpools (I’m eliminating the girls who travel to school with us in the morning because they don’t add to the wreckage) and the atrocity is only compounded. Not intentionally, just by sheer volume. Case(s) in point:
- The floors are a minefield of mud, grass, dirt and turf pellets. With the exception of winter basketball season, there is a constant stream of dirty cleats coming in and out of the car. Cleats trap mud, grass, dirt and turf, all of which inevitably falls off while in the car and is then mashed into the floor as kids enter and exit. Those turf pellets are everywhere, but the mud is the worst!
- The seats are constantly littered with crumbs and the cup holders filled with empty wrappers and used tissues. Let me be the first say it — gross! The crumbs are a by-product of often having to eat in the car between games and practices. Not ideal, but understandable. The wrappers, napkins and used tissues though … well, that’s just laziness. How hard is it to take your trash with you when you get out of the car? Drives me crazy.
- The windows are forever filthy. Okay, this one I know comes from my 8-year-old only, no one else. He likes to drag his sticky fingers across the glass to write his name and draw pictures … or simply to make squiggly lines and streaks. You’d swear I was driving around with a toddler in the back seat, but nope — just a fidgety (Oops, I mean artistic and creative) 3rd grader.
I do get the car washed and vacuumed frequently, but like my roots, I could use a touch-up once a week … who has time for that?
There is one thing more disgusting than the mud and crumbs in my car … the smell.
Lord have mercy, does my car stink! Unlike cleats, the odor knows no season. The stench of sweaty, prepubescent, middle school boys is ripe year-round and so is my car. Spring, summer and fall have the added bonus of damp, smelly equipment in addition to damp, smelly bodies. But truth be told, winter basketball season isn’t really much better. Sweat is sweat and stink is stink … there just aren’t any malodorous pads and helmets to add to the aroma. I try to Febreeze often, even daily if needed, but it’s not always enough. What I really need is a full car detail (hint, hint, to anyone looking to buy me a Christmas gift!) or less odoriferous kids.
Until then, if you need a lift from me around the Brandywine Valley, be prepared to ride with the windows down or suffer in silence.