This past weekend I attended Tasty Words, a spoken word show. It was hosted and organized by Wendy Hammer a woman who I had attended a writing workshop with. At the time you’re in a workshop, sharing your words, your emotions, your insecurities, you develop a bond that feels like friendship but it isn’t. It’s more like a sisterhood. You may not ever again share such an experience with these woman but by virtue of that one time, you share a bond.
The theme of the show I attended was cars. In California, particularly Southern California, there is no shortage of stories about cars. I can tell many a story about experiences in and involving cars. Here’s just one.
The first guy I had a serious crush on drove a white Toyota Corolla sedan. I’d been to his apartment so I knew where he lived and knew he parked his car on the street. His car was generally not well cared for – unwashed exterior, wrappers from take out littered the back seat, newspapers and flyers littered the front. I was too young and too infatuated to comprehend that how he took care of his car was emblematic for how he took care of his personal affairs. My two closest friends were caught up in the romance of my nascent relationship with this handsome, older man. They were too young and inexperienced to warn me away from him.
A few weeks after I’d been seeing him, I got the idea that I would surprise him with a clean car. I convinced my two friends that it made perfect sense to take rags, sponges, buckets and cleaners in the middle of the night to wash his car. We arranged a sleep over at my house and, using the side entrance, we sneaked out just past midnight. We found his car parked in front of his building. It was unlocked. This was a long time ago before cars were stolen, before car alarms or LoJack. We filled a few trash bags with all the refuse from the car. We found a purple suede jacket, a cowboy hat, a tuxedo jacket crammed into the back seat. We took turns trying on the items and photographed ourselves in them before returning them to the car. Luckily this was also long before digital cameras, Instagram or Facebook. No one but us has seen those photographs.
About two in the morning we had finished washing down the car and were preparing to dry it when a spotlight shone upon us. We turned in the direction of the light to find a police car. The officer stopped the car and, hidden behind the bright light, walked around the patrol car to ask us what we were doing. We were relieved to see it was a policewoman and explained to her that we were surprising my boyfriend. I suppose there was no law against washing a car in the wee hours of the morning and it was clear that we were neither drunk nor high so she had no cause to arrest us. “Finish up and get on home,” was all she said. We did as she asked and left the car spotless.
The next day I called him to tell him the truth behind his freshly washed car but I didn’t get the chance. The phone was answered by a woman who demanded to know who I was. When I instead demanded she tell me who she was, she informed me that she was his wife and that I should stay the hell away. Which I gladly did.
For information about Tasty Words shows: http://www.wendyhammers.com/tasty.html