The temperature on Tuesday hit 10C and hundreds of people in the GTA were suddenly all outside, washing and cleaning their cars.
It might have been thousands, instead of mere hundreds, but I’m basing my opinion on the numbers I saw in driveways and at car washes and wash-your-own facilities on Lake Shore Blvd. W. in Etobicoke, and along the Queensway, Mavis Rd., the Central Parkway and Erindale Station Rd. in Mississauga.
Men and women were spraying their cars with hoses, shammying off the outsides, vacuuming the insides and generally throwing themselves into the annual ritual of giving their prides and joy — big cars, small cars, vans or pickups — a good spring cleaning.
And why were they doing this? Because other than looking after themselves, their hygiene and their appearance, nothing — apparently — gives people more pleasure than giving their car a good scrubbing.
A shiny, clean car is a reflection of its owner. It’s symbolic of how you feel about yourself and others in your life.
It’s true. You sometimes forget this, only to be brought up short.
I once went to pick up a friend for lunch. She was in public relations for the Molson Indy and was used to riding around in spic-and-span Dodge trucks or Chevrolet Corvettes. I opened the door for her and as she got in, she said: “Oh, what a dirty car.”
Now, I didn’t think it was that bad. It was around this time of year — April — and although I hadn’t yet made like Richard Petty and sprayed Armor All all over everything inside the car, I’d at least thrown out all the clutter — orange peels, newspapers, empty Kleenex boxes — that accumulates on the floors of automobiles over the winter.
But the point was made. In her eyes, my car was dirty and, by extension, perhaps I was, too. I decided then and there to be much more careful when I invited people into my car.
One of the things I like doing, if I happen to be in a Canadian Tire, is to go look at all the car-cleaning products on display.
I look at the car-wash gloves, for instance, and imagine how easy it will be to clean the car this summer with one of those. I would just have to spray the outside and then dip my hand into the pail of warm water and soap and go to town.
Or how about all the different and exotic polishes? After I get finished hand-washing the car, I think, I can move it into the shade of my garage and carefully apply a coat or two of Turtle Wax or Meguiar’s. Then, after waiting a suitable amount of time for it to dry, I can buff it off to a high polish.
Do I really have to buy a car vac, I wonder? I can use the house vacuum cleaner just as easily and, if the electric cord won’t stretch far enough, I can always go to a car wash and, for a couple of loonies or a toonie, get four or five minutes of serious suction that will leave the interior of my car looking almost brand new.
Now, I really do do all that. I’m not making this up. But I have to admit that I live, much of the time, in a fantasy world, in that I plan to do a lot of things and then, for some unknown reason, never get around to doing them.
For instance, you should see the piles and piles of health magazines that are at my house. I read them all religiously, and make notes to start working out and to eat correctly in order to lose weight, and I am still 40 pounds over and can’t remember the last time I was in a gym.
Same thing with my car. At the end of the day, despite all my research and imagining, I wind up driving over to Denny’s Touchfree Full Service Car Wash on Mavis in Mississauga and plunk down my 30 bucks plus tax and watch them do an absolutely fantastic job of making my car look like I’d just driven it off the showroom floor.
And as I bomb away from the place, down the road and showin’ off, I can’t help but think about how I really, really will do it all by myself — next time.
Because all those people who were out there, washing their cars and vans and trucks on Tuesday when the weather suddenly warmed up, must know something.
And I want to find out what it is.
Norris McDonald is the editor of Toronto Star Wheels. Email: email@example.com
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