Yesterday I got up and I said to myself I said "Eli. You look great today. And you're finally going to clean out your car."
I've been putting it off for a while because my Tetanus shot wasn't up to date. But then last month I reached into the cup holder in the center console of my vehicle to fish out two quarters for something I don't really remember now and as I type this it seems weird that I needed quarters because it's 2017 and the last time I needed quarters was to do laundry in Palau where Daniel and I one time accidentally brought home a red pair of lacy women's underwear that we named "Jasmine."
And when I reach for the two quarters, and dug through the six inches of straw wrappers, stale french fries, receipts, and then a really dark layer that I don't care to revisit right now, I finally got to the coins. But I couldn't retrieve them because they were caked in something very hard that obviously used to be very soft but then solidified and now looked and felt like tree sap that had preserved insects containing dinosaur DNA that Chris Pratt will probably teach how to love one day.
I tried with all my might to get the two quarters out. I used sticks I found in the backseat. I rolled up a Runners World magazine from 2005 that I found under the driver's seat. I poured water into the cup holder from a nalgene bottle I took camping in September. I tried to break it up with one of the pens I was able to pry loose from it.
And right then and there I was like "Eli. This is unbecoming of a lady. OR of a man. Which is what you are. And obviously that's what I meant to say. It is time, right here and right now, to clean out this car."
So five weeks later, yesterday, I got up and I said to myself I said "Eli. Your hair deserves an honorary doctorate. And you're finally going to clean out your car."
Mr. Duncan Doodle helped me. We started by taking everything out of and piling it onto my driveway. It was at this point I became convinced that my car is one of those Harry Potter tents that is deceptively large inside. Because the pile of clothes, crumpled fast food bags, and a surprising amount of long black hair, was actually two to three times larger than the car itself.
But removing the debris from the vehicle was the easy part. The hard part? Deciding what to do with the debris.
I need someone right now to make a decision for me. One that I've been putting off for about one full decade. I just need you to tell me what to do. Don't hold back.
WHAT are we supposed to do with CDs and CD cases?
I had 1200 of them in my car.
I cannot get rid of them. Because BACK IN MY DAY, stories about someone's CDs getting stolen out of their car made local news.
I still remember the sinking feeling I felt in my stomach in 1997 when I heard that my oldest sister's friend lost her 120 CDs because she had set her CD book on top of her car, forgotten about it, and drove down the highway.
Can someone back me up on this? The kids don't believe me that these things used to be valuable. We practically took insurance policies out on this crap. It got to a point where mothers who had to slam on their brakes would reach for their collection before even throwing an arm across their child who was way too young to be sitting in the front seat but we did that back then because we didn't know about safety.
But then everything changed. I don't know if there was a specific moment. But I do know that I have not put a CD into a CD player (do I even have one of those?) since at least 2007. And even then it was for nostalgia.
Nevertheless, I cannot, for the life of me, just throw away the 2.5 million CDs and CD cases. It feels like throwing away money.
No. Not figuratively throwing away money. That's not what I mean. I mean that it literally feels like I'm throwing U.S. currency into a garbage can. Which I would never do because RECYCLING.
The point is this: once I placed the carload of garbage(?) safely into a closet in the house that is just yet another car-like ticking time bomb so am I really making any progress here? Once I did that, I finally poured enough chemicals into that cup holder to eviscerate the last two-mile stretch of the ozone layer.
And then I waited. And waited. And waited.
And then went back to the stick and magazine and pens.
And then more chemicals.
Rinse and repeat.
Until finally. Once my 401k was nearly large enough for retirement. FINALLY, I was able to pry the two quarters loose. The two quarters that were so badly deformed that now that I think about it they may have actually been more stale fries.
I decided that since I had now gone to all of this effort, I might as well finish the job and take the car for a full wash. Mr. Doodle came with me, dressed in a dog scarf that we found in the car during The Purge.
We pulled up to the gas station and parked so I could go in and purchase a car washing. But before I even had the car in park, a frail elderly woman was at my window, knocking on it with her over-sized gemstone ring. I rolled down the window. She explained that the car next to me was her son's and that the battery was dead and would I be so kind to jump the vehicle.
Ever the look-like-a-hero opportunist, I immediately spent the four minutes it took to figure out how to pop open the hood of my car and began the car-jumping process. The elderly woman offered to hold Mr. Doodle while we worked on the cars.
We had trouble trying to jump the vehicle and I still don't know why, but the whole reason I'm telling you this long-winded story is for this one little part: With my back to the woman, I heard her take a step. And suddenly a feature-length film of events flashed before my eyes.
Rushing through my mind was the thought that maybe this was all a sting. A man uses an elderly woman to distract other people, all for the goal of stealing puppies.
I couldn't believe I was so foolish to fall for this type of thing after all of the thousands of lectures Bob and Cathie have given me every single time I travel anywhere about how there are people who will try to take advantage of me and force me into the sex trade NOT THAT WE KNOW WHAT THAT IS but also THANKS FOR THINKING I'M STILL DESIRABLE.
And in that split-second in which I suddenly "realized" that I was about to be the victim of a puppy napping, I whipped around, lunged for Mr. Duncan Doodle, and blurted out the words, "NOT MY PUPPY."
The woman took a step back, looking bewildered. I swear to you Duncan actually looked embarrassed. The man looked up from his battery and asked if everything was ok.
I knew this woman was not trying to steal Duncan. She was just helping me because I was helping them. And even if she tried to run away with him, she was like 117 years old. I could for sure outrun her. If they really were out to steal puppies, this was a very poor plan.
They all looked at me for an explanation. I panicked. I knew that I shouldn't tell them that I thought they were trying to kidnap Mr. Doodle. That would make me sound like a crazy person. So I said the next best thing: "I thought he was about to be electrocuted."
I swear. I thought this was a logical explanation. We were charging a battery after all. One that, unfortunately, we never could get charged.
I went inside, mortified. The car wash cost $7.50. I gave the cashier a ten-dollar-bill. He gave me $2.50 in change.
When I got back to the car, I threw the two quarters into the cup holder.
Please enjoy this week's Strangerville Short: Enlightening clips of Jolyn teaching kindergarten.
~It Just Gets Stranger