Everybody wants his car to look sharp, right? I know I do, particularly since it's not technically my car yet. So long as it has Daddy's name on it, I want to take particularly good care of it. I try to claim the driver's seat as often as possible, but I knew the time would come when necessity would have to pry my overprotective hands off the steering wheel and lend it to the husband. I also knew, long before entering into this marriage, that we would be attempting to combine two very different philosophies of car care.
I like my car to be clean, uncluttered, with perfect paint. No dings, scuffs, scratches, dents, and as little bird excrement and other natural debris as possible. I know my in-laws must have thought me rather obsessive, picking the wet leaves off the roof and hood and the pine needles out from under the wiper blades every morning. It ruined my french manicure right before the wedding, but preventing those horrible brown leaf stains was a bigger priority. After all, it was still a baby with hardly 9000 miles on it, and I was not about to let a tree ruin its shiny good looks. I have to say, my favorite part of this little house we've been living in is the covered carport.
Growing up, we were never conscious of a "family car cleanliness policy," but it was understood that everyone took out of the car when he brought into the car, and all trash was properly disposed of immediately. I always remember the car being uncluttered and generally clean, except for the usual crumbs that could be expected from a backseat full of kids. It wasn't oppressive, just second nature.
Enter the husband. Although he's perfect in most every other way, I knew Dave wasn't coming from a position that valued the cosmetic care of a vehicle as highly as I did, or that he at least hadn't developed any habits in that regard. For me, empty space is an insurance policy against surprise guests or unexpected luggage. For him, empty space is available for his use until somebody else needs it. Without any real discussion on the subject, the trunk and backseat became portable closet space, cup holders and door pockets became trash receptacles. Textbooks, coats, bags, paperbacks, old mail, receipts, wrappers, plastic bottles, uniform items, shoes. I'll admit that I was not entirely blameless during the collective five months that morning sickness had me out of commission, when despair and an all around lack of energy prevented me from cleaning it up. We are currently attempting to reconcile our views on the subject, particularly since we're driving up to visit a friend this weekend and I don't want plastic bottles rolling about underfoot.
Dave is not a bad driver. He likes to point out that he's been driving six years longer than I have. We just have different styles. I am at all times neurotically conscious of the car as an investment, and my precautions reflect it. Dave sees the car as a machine that he expects to perform for him as needed. Technically there's nothing wrong with that view, but he's not as careful as I am. In fact, I doubt most normal people are.
I brake lightly and sparingly (but safely) because I want the brake pads to last forever. I let the engine warm up in the morning before accelerating too much to avoid unnecessary wear and tear. I constantly adjust the wipers to the most efficient speed for the conditions and don't let them beat more than strictly necessary. When possible I opt out of using the AC to further put off the day when it will finally need to be serviced. I don't drive myself to distraction worrying about it, but it's always in the back of my mind. God forbid the CD player break down on me, because that's one thing I use mercilessly.
The little car did sustain two rather severe dings in the last year, one front and one rear, and it wasn't me who was driving. I always give him the keys back, because ultimately our marriage is too perfect to sacrifice to car maintenance. Still, I'll be glad when he finally has his own car back. He can do whatever he likes with that one, just so long as I don't have to drive it.