Friday, November 7, 2008

An Apple for the Road

I changed the air freshener in the car today.

Having one of those dangly little scented cardboard things has never been a priority of mine, but this summer we had to go to the Grand Opening of the new auto parts store in our neighborhood. It used to be a Hardees, before that was closed by popular acclaim. It took so long for the land to be put to use that we were beginning to suspect that it was a Superfund site, which having eaten there a few times would not have surprised me. But this summer they finally leveled the old Hardees and commenced to moving large piles of the Earth's surface about into new and more pleasing shapes. Eventually they put doors on.

Naturally the girls were just fascinated by this. And when it became clear that it was going to be new auto parts store (as opposed to something useful like, say, a Barnes and Noble), the girls began agitating for a field trip.

So approximately 15 minutes after they first opened, there we were. It was nice, in a "what on earth am I doing in this place?" kind of way, with rows of shiny things whose names and functions might as well have been written in Mayan on some ancient stone wall, and a pleasant rubber-and-metal sort of smell. Naturally we had to buy something, and car air fresheners seemed like something hard to screw up.

Do you have any idea how many varieties of air freshener they now sell for your car? Great googly moogly, people, what on earth are you doing in there? Wait, no. Don't answer that.

We cruised our way through the selection - cinnamon, lemon, "sea breeze," baby powder, various incarnations of the traditional "pine," pina colada, coconut, even something called "new car scent" (because outgassing polyvinylchlorides never go out of style!) - before settling on something labeled "sour apple." At 3 for $2, how could we go wrong?

So we took our souvenir out to the car and hung one up on the mirror, not far from where the dog with the bouncing head would have gone 30 years ago. Let me tell you, those air freshener people do not mess around. Within heartbeats, my car smelled like the inside of a cider press - which was not unpleasant, once you knew what to expect.

But all good things must come to an end, and eventually the car resumed smelling like cracker crumbs and spilled tea.

Not today though. Today, the cider press returned. And there's another one just waiting in the wings. Better living through chemistry, that is our motto.

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