Grok My Enthusiasm (48)

By: Roxane Gay
December 7, 2016

One in a weekly series of enthusiastic posts contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars.

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carwash

I have a new car, something of a fancy car, one of the first things I’ve bought for myself that was pure indulgence. The car has features I still don’t know how to use. I travel so much that the new car smell lingers because the car goes oft-unused. But what I especially love is my car’s seamless black exterior. The problem with a black car, though, is that it looks dirty if you are not vigilant. Given the state of the world, worrying about the cleanliness of a car’s exterior is trifling, but sometimes, we need trifling distractions to cope with horrifying realities.

The first automated car wash was called Automated Laundry. It opened in Detroit, in 1914. It wasn’t really automated (that would come thirty years later), but they had the right idea—cars were pushed from one station to the next and various wash-related things happened, resulting in clean shiny cars.

So I have this new car and the parking garage for my apartment building is a dark, dingy place I like to call Murder Garage. There are all kinds of cobwebs and spiders and filth lurking so my car gets really dirty, rather quickly.

Once a week or so I go to the local automated carwash. I pay and the attendant writes inscrutable numbers on various windows with a wax marker. They snap the rear window wiper to make sure it is sturdily attached to the vehicle. I wait in line and there is always a line. When I am the next person to enter the wash, two more attendants use power washers to spray the wheels and bumper. I put my car in neutral and a conveyor belt clumsily pulls me along—lurch pause lurch pause. This is when I close my eyes and inhale deeply as the sweet smells of industrial soaps waft through the vents. There are sprays and frightening looking apparatuses that scrub. At one point, the entire windshield is draped in wet, soapy lengths of fabric and it’s like I am in a cage. The conveyor belt continues to pull me and my car along until we reach the large dryers that never fully dry my car. At the end of the wash, a sign tells me to shift my car into Drive, and then I am on my way with a clean car, marveling at the ingenuity of the automated car wash. I love how alone I feel during the middle of the car wash, how I am held in that moment because there’s nothing for me to do and nowhere for me to go.

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GROK MY ENTHUSIASM: Rob Wringham on THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | Gordon Dahlquist on WEEKEND | Joe Alterio on MILLION YEAR PICNIC | Adrienne Crew on LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | Josh Glenn on THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | Alix Lambert on THE SKIES BELONG TO US | Adam McGovern on PENELOPE and CHAVEZ RAVINE | Rob Wringham on THE LYKE WAKE WALK | Mark Kingwell on NORTH STAR SNEAKERS & GWG JEANS | Gordon Dahlquist on FELLINI SATYRICON | Erik Davis on AH! | Devin McKinney on WHISPERING AFRAID | Mimi Lipson on 1973 SEARS ROEBUCK CATALOG | Jessamyn West on MOSS | Josh Glenn on THE SCOUT HOW BOOK | Brian Berger on SLACKER | Alix Lambert on ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS | Chelsey Johnson on MONOTREMES | Devin McKinney on THE BUTCHER COVER | Flourish Klink on ONE DIRECTION | Gordon Dahlquist on FULL METAL JACKET | Allegra Huston on CLOTHESLINE | Jenny Davidson on POWERLIFTING | Evan Narcisse on REZ | Deborah Wassertzug on VEGETARIAN MEATBALLS | Chris Spurgeon on WALLACE AND GROMIT | Mandy Keifetz on BENEFICIAL MICROBES | Annie Nocenti on MARKS ON WALLS | Molly Sauter on THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF | William Nericcio on LAND OF THE LOST | Dan Fox on “VOICE OF GOD” RADIO DJS | Brandi Brown on WIKIPEDIA TALK | Claire Lehmann on THE APPARATUS REVEAL | Alice Boone on COSTUME JEWELRY | Colin Dickey on WIDESPREAD PANIC | Anshuman Iddamsetty on THE FULL BODY PROJECT | John Hilgart on MAKING GRATEFUL DEAD ALBUMS | Rob Wringham on STEVEN UNIVERSE | John Overholt on DECKLE EDGES | James Hannaham on HABIT PATTERNS | Jessamyn West on THE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM | Adam McGovern on THE SPACE GIANTS | Brian Berger on MEDIUM COOL | Chris Spurgeon on THE DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT | Joe Alterio on TABLETOP WARGAMING | Mimi Lipson on TRASH PICKING | Jason Grote on CZECH CINEMA | Roxane Gay on AUTOMATED CAR WASH | Dan Fox on JULIA DAVIS | Amy Thielen on BINGO | Steph Burt on FEIJOA.

MORE ENTHUSIASM at HILOBROW

#SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads | GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other new wave songs. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other fantasy novels from 1934–43. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other old-school hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.

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