Ramblings From an Apathetic Adult Baby

From Justin Gawel: Eccentric Dirtbag

Tag Archives: cars

The Minivan Backseat: A Filthy Frontier

Great empires fall, the brightest stars burn out, masterpieces fade, and minivan backseats inevitably become sticky, disgusting, and uninhabitable places.  The enfilthment of a backseat is like erosion; a slow process, but, given the time, sediment from all regions will be deposited in the minivan’s backseat usually taking the form of spilled colas, spilled Kool-Aids, and spilled science fair projects.


You can’t fight the machine on this one.  Like a moth to light, the backseat of any minivan is going to attract a certain level of nasty, stank trash-doody.  Frankly, you’d be better off trying to get water to boil at sixty degrees Fahrenheit or tying to teach a mentally impaired horse how to read rather than trying to keep a minivan backseat clean.  I realize it would still be near impossible to teach a non-mentally impaired horse to read, but it would be extra tough if the horse was, how should I say, wealthy in the chromosome department.  I’m off topic, I don’t mean to debate the tenants of equine literacy, but, basically, what I’m trying to say is that it’s a pseudo-law that a minivan backseat will get disgusting.


If you’re not taking care of children currently because you never had kids, you’re kids abandoned you, or maybe they’re dead or something then I can safely assume that you’re not in the market for a minivan.   But, for the experience, flashback to 1997—my mom, taking care of two kids who take up every spare minute of hers with bickering over watching Clarissa Explains it All or The Wonder Years, decided to purchase a 1997 Plymouth Voyager.  Flash, swag, prestige—driving off the lot I can assure you the minivan had none of those qualities, and, somehow, had even less of those qualities years later when my mom sold the vehicle in exchange for a partially used gift card to Applebee’s.


The lack of resale value was not my mom’s fault.  In fact, I distinctly remember wiping boogers on everything I touched in that van.  I remember the time I started digging in the crevices of the seat only to discover a treasure trove of Jolly Ranchers and Skittles that were all fused together in a hair-covered, sugary cluster that was big enough to choke a dog.  I put the wad back in the seat; knowing that it would be a fun surprise for someone else down the road.  It didn’t stop there though, every vacation in which fast food was ingested over car rides resulted in a few rogue fries escaping into the seat folds and sodas being spilled in the cup holders thus creating sticky pools of syrup which were resistant to any cleaning attempt.


The field trips didn’t help.  A seventh-grade trip to see an afternoon performance of the musical Grease turned sour after a fat, mean girl was assigned to ride with us.  I mean, the knowledge of having a chubby child in your car is already going to hurt the resale value, but that wasn’t enough for Little Miss Two Mayonnaise Sandwiches For Lunch, no, even though we were leaving for the play right after lunch she still saw it necessary to bring a goodie bag filled with pretzels, Slim Jims, and Ring-Pops that she proceeded to hoard and munch on during the ten-minute ride to the show.  In the spirit of Grease I won’t tell you more, tell you more anymore detail about this large mammal grazing in the backseat of said van, but the result of her presence was a half-eaten and melted Ring Pop jammed in the seat pocket, a bunch of wrappers in the storage compartment, and a streak on her seat that we all prayed was just chocolate.


The Kelly Blue Book rated the brown stain as “undesirably tragic” and proclaimed that it was certain to doom the re-sale value of the vehicle.  By the end the person we sold the van to declared he would be selling it to the booming Detroit ashtray industry that would turn said minivan into several hundred trays for ash.   A fitting afterlife for an existence spent being filled with garbage.  And, akin a morbidly obese scuba diver dying after being mistook for a trophy fish and harpooned, it was a sad end to a sad life.


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Shanty-Van Randy

Did someone say that, did I just think that, or did I pick this up through some sort of Morse Code military vibration in my teeth left over from my stint in Korea? Sorry, I should note I don’t mean Korea and the hullabaloo-kerfuffle-nonsense way back in the fifties, no, sir, I’m talking about my Korean Town dentist with whom I have a mutual “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy when it come to asking for insurance and for asking for extra nitrous oxide to take home.


Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a night; give a man a complimentary garbage bag full of euphoric gas and he’ll come back to your office of dentistry and fireworks for years to come.  I may only have a degree from a discredited institution, although some people will tell you it was fake and just an outdated CPR certificate I found in the trash.  However, if I had needed to take an economics class for my degree I’m sure Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” would more than cover the stability and attractiveness of a business founded on cavities, cleanings, and complimentary drugs and explosives.


I may have underestimated the strength of this gas.  I know, it sounds like a line I’ve undoubtedly poured on before in times of failed chemistry tests and instances of excessive funeral flatulence.   But Randy had warned me this time; he said I would freak out and here I am, mercy me, having me a spell of the crazies with a touch of the vapors.


Is it possible Randy is some sort of sayer of sooth?  Nah, if he were any good at that then his living quarters would resemble more of a house rather than his van full of sea spiders and pigeons.


Alas, Randy, I should have heeded your prophecy more seriously.   Twas foolish of me, similar to that time you sold me that Malcolm Ecstasy and I stored it in the Motrin bottle.  Seriously, who knew hallucinogens cured hangover so well?  You were right about that that time, Randy; that stuff did get me messed up by any means necessary, and was, overall, much more of an aggressive trip than that Dr. Molly Luther Chronic Jr. stuff.


How long have I been home holding this garbage bag full of nitrous?  It’s gotta be somewhere between twenty minutes and all of time, but I can’t remember and, sadly, I neglected to buy a watch with a decade readout, or any watch, or wrist-sized sundial, at all, for that matter.


Has Randy been sleeping here the whole time?  What is that piece of paper he’s clutching—he doesn’t have any valuable papers in his life.  Christ on a cracker, he smells like shanty-van if I’ve ever smelled it.  Why does this paper have my name and signature on it?  Here’s to hoping this isn’t a repeat of when I traded him my power of attorney for gas money.


Major crisis averted, looks like this document just give Randy permission to crash in my place until his Van of Man makes it through monsoon season at the quarry.  Pretty sure Randy doesn’t know how quarry water levels work, shockingly though this document is proof that he is reaping the benefit of hiring that personal notary.


Well, let’s make the best of this and ride out New Roommate Randy through monsoon season. Today could be the beginning of something great, but right now the trash bag is emptying and things are returning to normal, as in I’m consciously eating a pack of raw hotdogs in my bathtub.


This day would truly make a fantastic movie, wait, no, not fantastic—what’s that other thing—oh yeah, horribly unwatchable.



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