i woke up early and left the apartment without picking the newspaper up off my doormat. i’m now spending saturday in a car, in a tire store parking lot, directly adjacent to a car wash. i’m waiting for new tires. i’m writing because i don’t know what else to do with myself.
the earth is steaming. the parking lot asphalt looks soft enough to sink into. but there’s a breeze blowing through the car’s open windows and it feels better than chilled, sweet watermelon on a hot mouth. i think happy summer thoughts. i crave a cherry popsicle. i watch cars dry.
between red shirts, red baseball caps, and blue jeans, the car wash attendants are browned from the sun and sweat is pouring down their faces. they stream toward cars as they roll out of the car wash and immediately start wiping. an old man in pleated gray dress pants is stepping around dripping cars and pointing out imperfections.
two young men at my right are wrapping lean, strong arms around a mammoth forest-green suburban. the one in charge of windows just said something funny in spanish to the one in charge of hubcaps. hubcaps lets out a laugh before gray-dress-pants shoots him a look. there’s even a young woman drying off a nailpolish-red audi in the middle of the lot. her long, black hair is tied into a knot. she repeatedly pushes the loose strands from her small face with the back of her hand. it’s only noon. i don't think she cares that it's nailpolish-red. i think she wants to fall into a heap.
ten feet in front of me, a stocky car wash attendant is standing on the tips of his toes. like semaphore signals, he flags his arms deliberately across the surface of the bullet-gray land rover with red and blue hand towels. he sprays and wipes and elbow-greases every radiant surface like a proud father. he pulls his spray bottle from the loop on the side of his jeans like a quick draw. there will be no water spots. no drip stains. no stray sprays. he does one more sweep across the hood. perfection.
he waves a red towel against the sky to signal that the land rover is ready. a man and a woman start moving towards him. they look relaxed.
the woman is wearing a pink sweat suit, matching flip flops, and dark sunglasses. she has a golden tan. she’s holding a magazine, a receipt, and a dollar.
the attendant hands her the car keys. she hands him the dollar.
the man is tall and lean and dressed like hollywood—loose cargo pants, new balance sneakers, vintage hat, glasses. he’s holding a starbucks double espresso and the new york times. he looks bored. he opens the passenger door and casually brushes off the seat before he gets in. (i'm surprised to feel a lump knotting up in my chest and throat.) the attendant patiently holds the door as the man settles in. (the backs of my eyes start to burn.) then he gently shuts the car door and waves to the man inside. the man doesn't see him. (i start to cry.)
the land rover shoots out of the parking lot. the stocky attendant picks up used towels from the ground. and tears are pouring down my face at record speeds.