Old Granny Is Still Dirty

When I first wrote about Old Granny, she was old. Now she is two years older (and even dirtier). I had to revisit my loving tribute to Old Granny today as I have some news to share in the next week or two about her. So why is Old Granny so dirty? I blame the metal groove industry…

My Old Granny is dirty. Really, really dirty.

Before I go any further, I should reassure you that I am not speaking about a beloved MeeMaw. Old Granny is the name that Lucy gave to my minivan six years ago.  It was so fitting it stuck immediately.

Old Granny is the type of car that inspires kids to write WASH ME across her back window on a weekly basis. She’s just that perpetually dirty. I pat myself on the back at least once a month for having the foresight waaaay back in 2000 to buy an Odyssey the color of dirt. (Officially it’s “Mesa Beige Metallic” but that’s just fancy marketing talk). It camouflages the true nature of grime present very effectively. If my car were white it would make people gag by looking 200% dirtier than it appears right now–and that’s just the outside!

Every time we step into the garage I have to remind my children not to touch Old Granny with anything but their bare hands as they are trying to get in and buckle up. The truth is, if they accidentally rub up against the outside of the door they are going to have to march right back inside to change because there will be a noticeable brown smudge on their clothing. (No, I’m not kidding, and yes it has happened.)

You might wonder why I just don’t wash the thing. I mean, gross! You don’t even have to pull out a bucket, soap, and a hose if you are truly that lazy. (I am totally that lazy, of course). Nowadays it only takes a few minutes and a few dollars to go through a mechanical car wash. Heck, they are everywhere! You can even do it at most gas stations by picking the “add car wash” option when you are filling up, right?  WRONG!!!!

Well wait, you *could* do that if you were not me.

I acknowledge that it doesn’t take that long. I know it’s not expensive. I admit that all of my regular gas stations offer car washes.


I am deathly afraid of driving my Old Granny into those metal things that pull your car through the car wash when you put your car in neutral. I’m talking phobia levels of terror here.

I’m sure most of you would agree, those things are completely scary. I mean, I can’t see my actual wheels when I’m driving. How am I supposed to maneuver my giant car tire into that teeny tiny slot of metal? If I don’t hit the center of that groove, my minivan jumps and horrible noises are made of tire rubber on metal…and that’s if I’m lucky! Sometimes I drive on top of the metal thingy and Old Granny slopes up then lurches down or to the side like a boat caught in the perfect storm. You know that can’t be good for her undercarriage!

But just like trying to guess a CAPTCHA on the internet, it always takes several tries to line up the wheel just right. My problem is that after each attempt my anxiety level rises exponentially and before you know it, I desperately just want to throw the minivan in reverse and run away.

Ha! Good luck! There is no retreat from the stupid gas station car wash because there is ALWAYS someone behind me at that point. If I’ve tried to line my tire up to the groove at least 5 times and failed (and that’s a low-ball number), they are probably even honking. I AM TRAPPED.

Side note: Why do they think honking is helpful? Nobody is more distressed about the situation than the person sitting in the puddle of tears desperately trying to get her stupid minivan tire into the metal thingy. Honking really doesn’t magically hone my skills or make me think, “Oh, haha! I was just joking around before. I guess I’ll just do it right this time!”

So, the only time I have a shot at getting Old Granny clean is when my husband is driving her without me. (At this point, I get the cold sweats when approaching a car wash that has that metal groove even when I’m not the one driving. I’ve been told I’m not as adorable and lovable when I’m screeching hysterically. It’s better if this whole thing takes place without me around.) But my husband can just take the minivan sometime when he’s driving around on the weekend and get the thing washed, right?  WRONG!!!!

My husband hates driving Old Granny. He would rather tote an extra child in the trunk or bungee cord them to the roof of his sedan than take my minivan. He finds Old Granny gross and smelly, and he shuns her.

Old Granny actually *is* dented because I tend to run into things when I’m in reverse– and sometimes in other gears. She’s had food ground into her carpet. Numerous drinks have been spilled and absorbed by her loving floorboard. One young boy in carpool once inquired about the nature of her unique aroma by asking, “Why does this car smell like an old sock?” (“Don’t worry. You get used to it” was my reply.)

But like so many old gals, she gets the job done. I actually adore that she’s imperfect. There is nothing that anyone can do to her that hasn’t been done before. I am a worrier by nature, but worry has no place when you are with sweet Old Granny.

If you see a parking space that’s a tight squeeze, no problem! Old granny will pull right in without a care. I don’t have to worry about door dings. Old Granny laughs in the face of door dings. She is MADE of door dings. My husband likes to park miles away from the door of any establishment. He says it’s for exercise but it’s really because he doesn’t want his car scratched! And people say *I’m* the uptight one!!

A child accidentally spilled his big gulp? No problem. We’ll suck it out with a wet/dry vac when we get home and be on with our day. You don’t have to worry about stains in Old Granny. I don’t even know what color Old Granny’s original flooring was, but it’s kind of dark grey now. My husband, on the other hand, won’t even allow BOTTLED WATER to be consumed in his car. It is the ultimate snack and drink free zone. He almost stroked out when I drove his car one night and he found a Starbucks cup in the cup holder the next day. Hey, it’s not my fault he has a very un-Old Granny like built in GPS that can locate Starbucks all over town.

So, partly because he thinks that Old Granny is gross (she is) and partly because he doesn’t trust that I will live up to his rigid car behavior standards (I won’t), he never simply switches cars with me on the weekend.  Like a totally normal person, I remain too terror-stricken to attempt the local car wash.  Thus, Old Granny remains the dirty old girl that she is.

They say the best way to cure a phobia is to do whatever scares you until the phobia is gone, but hello…that doesn’t work with a car washing phobia!  Going through the car wash is how I developed the phobia in the first place! Duh! Stupid science.


Old Granny Is Still Dirty — 75 Comments

  1. Oh I SOOOO get this. Although I have now mastered getting my giant SUV into a car wash – it took several attempts, a lot of cursing and yelling and the help of several car wash attendants, who I’m sure were thinking that I’m a total menace and should not be driving such a big car. They are right.
    I hope you get a band new mini cooper!!!

    • I am impressed you have figured out how to maneuver a giant car into those car wash grooves, Allie. Just thinking about it is making me sweat!! Excuse me while I go rock in the corner for a minute.

    • Sadly, my most able car washing child (who is taller than me and could even probably wash the roof!) is also a surly teenager. I will have to weigh the hassle of getting a teenager to do *anything* vs keeping Old Granny dirty. It’s a poser.

  2. Um, don’t you have other kinds of car washes around? Only one here has the metal track, and the station usually has an employee out there to flag people in. We have one where you just drive in and the machine works around you (while still) and 2 where you pull in and wash it yourself.

    I’m pretty lax with my car, but I give it a shot of fabreeze when it smells like a French fry.

    • Oh, I WISH!!!! Every car wash in my area is the metal groove kind. Now, there is one of those premium car wash places where you get out of the car and they drive it somewhere and do all the work…but it’s still 15 minutes away and expensive. I actually do that probably once a year. If I did it any more frequently, it would cut into my Starbucks money. 😀

  3. I don’t like doing the car washes either. Thankfully my husband will wash my car by hand. That’s how he prefers to wash his beloved truck and sometimes if he’s feeling extra nice, he’ll also do my car.

    • Maybe I need to get my husband a truck. One of his friends has a beloved truck–that he washes by hand like your husband. And you’re right,what’s one more car when you already have the stuff out? I think you are on to something, Amber!

  4. LOL!! This was my first post to read today and I am glad I started here. I got a great laugh. Old Granny! It reminds me of the saying, “Make it do. Wear it out. Make if do or do without.” Thanks for a delightful start to my day!

    • So glad you stopped by!! 😀
      We are totally on board with “Make it do. Wear it out” That is totally my car mantra! 😀

    • Weeble is the best car name EVER!! I want a great car name! (I’d love to say Old Granny wasn’t a totally apt name for my minivan, but it is perfect, unfortunately.)

  5. I don’t have a phobia of the car was but I just hate doing it. My husband usually gets so tired of looking at my dirty car he takes it to get washed himself – it’s a win/win.

    • I feel like that is the secret to a happy life. Hitch your star to someone who has a lower tolerance for messiness and disorder than you do…and let nature take its course. 😀

  6. That dirt may be holding old granny together at this point so it would be dangerous to wash her!

    Seeing the wash me sign reminds me of this time I was driving home from esthetics school. I was up in the suburbs of Chicago were there is a ton of traffic. There was a guy in front of me and his truck was as dirt as old granny. However instead of someone writing “wash me” on it they wrote “I have giant balls”!! I could not stop laughing as I was behind him for several stop lights. The first thing that came into my had was, “Wow! That must be painful!” I wanted to roll down the window and tell him there must be a ointment or something he could put on them!

    I love this post and I love old granny!

    • Bwahahahahahaha!! After someone wrote that on his truck, he *really* wasn’t going to wash it, was he?!

      And you know, I think you’re right about the dirt holding her together. I probably shouldn’t risk a good washing at this point!

  7. I feel your pain…not where car washes are concerned, but I don’t do reverse well. I’ve backed into trees, other vehicles, buildings, and my car has the scars to prove it!

    • I am not a good reverser. I’m glad I’m not the only one. I, too, have backed into lots of things: Cars (including my husband’s car), a tree, a fence, a brick wall, pylons…I’m a menace in reverse (and sometimes other gears)

  8. Fund raiser car washes were MADE for those of us afraid of the mechanical ones. Unless my BF washes the car, that’s the only way mine is getting done.

    • You are SO RIGHT, Patti! If the fundraising kids in my area only knew I could keep their organizations afloat if they’d just set up a car wash every other week. They’d bet set for life!! 😀

  9. Haha – this line cracked me up “I don’t have to worry about door dings. Old Granny laughs in the face of door dings. She is MADE of door dings”…so I guess you won’t be selling Old Granny? I will be in the market for a car for my daughter in about 6 months and Old Granny sounds like the perfect car! 🙂

    • Old Granny would be the PERFECT car for a new driver. There is literally nothing you can do to her that hasn’t already been done…and worse. And she has an incredibly high safety rating to boot! OTOH…my 14 year old has said he’d rather ride a bicycle for LIFE than be caught dead behind the wheel of a 14 year old minivan. So there’s that. 😀

  10. The trick is to line up the left side of the steering wheel with the opening of the groves. You can’t go wrong. Unless it’s actually a serial killer’s trap to get you in the car wash machine…. which, as far as I’m concerned, is always a possibility.

    Also? I’m convinced that once a car is past a certain age, the dirt is what holds it together. You wash it and you might lose a bumper or a side panel.

    • You just get it, Scott. Dirt is now a crucial component to Old Granny’s well being. I have not heard of that steering wheel trick. I can’t imagine I’d ever work up the nerve to actually try it (as I am sweating just thinking about it)but if I am ever in a life or death car wash lining up situation, I will remember this advice!

  11. Is there a new granny in your future? How exciting!! We have the best car wash not far fromy house. It has the metal track but an employee guides you into it. It’s kind of hot. They also have multiethnic stalls for vacuuming your car afterwards. Car wash and vacuum for $5. Love it!

    • $5 sound like a price I’m willing to pay, but attendants flagging you in SOUNDS AWFUL!! There would just be some person waving and talking to me as I flail about. I’m almost in tears thinking about it. This is why I can’t have new things.

  12. This gives me angst as well. So do those parking garages with that precipitous spiral thing going on where you’re basically scraping against the wall.

    • SO glad to know I’m not alone! Oh, and yes…those PARKING GARAGE THINGS. How does anyone avoid crashing into either the wall or other cars parked. I HATE parking garages!

  13. When we got the van we have now, one of the selling points was that it came pre-dinged. Seriously!! Now I don’t worry about grocery carts or other car doors at all. So much less stress this way!

    • This is why we were meant to be friends, Rabia. I could not agree more. A dinged car saves you SO much anxiety. I literally NEVER have to worry about that. It’s so freeing. I would be a basket case in a perfect car. I might not even let the kids eat in it…IMGAGINE THAT!

  14. I agree with you. Cars are meant to be eaten in, or why would God have created drive-throughs? Can’t you pay the kids $5 to wash it and tell them that it is a fun summer activity?

    • They’ll never fall for that, John…BUT…I do have the power of motherhood to command them to do my bidding. Mwahahahaha! (That was my evil laugh)I have to be careful not to overplay that hand, though. There are two of them and one of me. I can’t risk a mutiny.

  15. You could ask Ashley to drive it through for you. I basically think you’re right though, dirt isn’t really bad, who cares, its just a car.
    Tend to run into things? This sounds like another column.

    • Ashley would TOTALLY do that for me, Bill. BUT…just two days ago she couldn’t get HER minivan into the car wash. She paid $11 and tried 4 times, and ended up having to back out and just drive away. She wasn’t terrified like I am (she was just irritated)but I think she might be one more trip like that away from her own phobia. THIS IS HOW IT STARTS!

  16. I get cold chills when approaching the auto car wash too. I’m always terrified I’m going to throw down and run over the little dude directing me in – who always seems so perturbed that I am slow and cautious while lining up. This is a fun post!

    • I never thought of that. A dude directing me would add to my stress…not only would he be judging me, I COULD RUN HIM DOWN. GAH!! 😀

  17. When the car gets to the point that my husband just can’t stand it anymore, he washes it! The kids treat the cars just like their rooms….pigpens. Ugh. Plus we have 3 dogs that travel with us in the minivan in the winter to the ski condo. That doesn’t help.

    • Oh, THE DOG!! We only have one and she definitely adds to the yuck factor in the car…three would tip us over the limit! I think my problem is that we all treat Old Granny like we do our rooms. We are all pigpens at heart I guess. Blergh!

  18. My car can practically fit in my pocket, so I don’t have any trouble getting it in to the car wash. My two and a half year old, on the other hand, was completely traumatized by the huge wet belt things that pound on the window in some sort of washing ritual towards the end of the wash. I love the car wash though, have you tried pumping ‘Car Wash’ by Rose Royce (or the later version by Christina Aguilera)? That song can make just about anything fun.

    • I didn’t know Christina Aguilera did a version of that song. I will check it out! (Although I don’t hold out hope that it will affect my phobia. I am resigned to a life of grimy cars unless I hit the jackpot and can hire a car butler to take care of my auto needs. It could happen.)

  19. I used to be the same way with those car wash tracks – thankfully we have some that don’t have tracks and you just have to be semi in place which I can totally handle!!!

    • I need to find SOMEPLACE in town without the tracks that doesn’t cost $25. Otherwise, it’s dirt city from here on out!

  20. “I am deathly afraid of driving my Old Granny into those metal things that pull your car through the car wash when you put your car in neutral. I’m talking phobia levels of terror here.”

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    One time a dude behind me had to GET OUT and help me get situated on the track. I was never more mortified in my life.

    • SARAH! YOU ARE MY PEOPLE!! I once had to have a stranger drive my car into the groove because I could not do it and there was a whole line behind me so I couldn’t back up and get out of the line. AWFUL. I do believe that was the last time I ever attempted it. *sob*

  21. Sounds like taking Old Granny to the car wash would have been a good Mother’s Day gift, no? I’m not necessarily averse to going into the car wash, but I hate the thought of waiting up to 30 minutes for the line to go down. I’d rather just wait until it’s so bad the Husband feels he NEEDS to do it. Hope that Old Granny’s doing okay!

    • Oh, it would have been a PERFECT Mother’s Day gift. OPPORTUNITY MISSED!!! Rats!! Maybe I’ll suggest it as a late auxiliary gift! 😀

  22. We have a crappy white Odyssey. We tried to wash her recently at the completely automated car wash and it just ate our money and didn’t work! It was a Sunday and no one was there to help.
    So they gave us a code to use again. After driving in a mud bank last week, I’m going to let Cassidy do this one!

    • We are crappy Odyssey sisters!! Whoo Hoo! We now need a secret handshake and a clubhouse! (and our husbands to wash our minivans, of course!)

  23. I’m always nervous about driving into that metal groove thingy, but I haven’t had any problems yet. Usually there’s a car wash guy telling me how to turn my wheel to help navigate into that tiny groove. It’s clearly the car wash guy’s fault that you have this fear!

    • Why don’t we have the wonderful car wash attendants here in Charlotte?! What a rip off!! I’d be much less worried if we had one of those! (Oh, who am I kidding…no I wouldn’t! I still wouldn’t attempt it!)

  24. I love that color name- Mesa Beige Metallic. Oh, marketing people, what fun jobs you have! Your anxiety level when trying to get into the car wash reminds me of mine when I am trying to parallel park with a bunch of other people in the car- everyone is silent, watching my every move, and waiting for me to mess up- which of course I do, and which does *not* happen when I parallel park alone. Then, it is perfect and easy breezy.
    P.S. I’ve never washed my car. It’s a silver 1998 Civic and I’ve got better ways to spend my time and money! Plus, the rain!

    • We are kindred spirits, Christy! Who needs to waste all that time (or anxiety) washing cars! Nature’s car wash is good enough for me! 😀

  25. Ha! I just went through the car wash this morning and I’m flashing back to the attendant doing the finger point at me. A little this way. No that way. Forward. A little this way. STop. Wait. A little more.

    I totally get how you’d have a phobia. Long Live Ol’ Granny because it’s much easier to have a dirty old car than a dirty new car with car payments. 🙂

    • You said it!! A dirty new car with car payments is the PITS!! I don’t need that kind of guilt! Old Granny prefers dirt…or as I call it, her patina!

  26. I totally know what you mean about getting the car tires to align with the right tracks. That’s partially why I like dropping off my car to get washed at places where they drive the vehicle for you.

    • The only place here that does that is AutoBell and they are so expensive. It’s really inconvenient to be terrified but also very cheap. It’s a bad combination.

  27. Gotta say the title got me thinking “oh how lovely. We are going to learn a bit about one of the gals’ grandmothers. This should be fun!” Then read she was a car. A dirty car at that. LOVE IT! This could be my car. We call it “Car” though not old granny. Car and I really struggle at the oil replacement place. They have a pit we have to negotiate. EVERY single time I’m convinced I’m going to veer to the side and plunge into the pit. Oh my. I’ll cause some child to be parentless. As for car washes well poor Car has a cracked windshield. It started off as a “bug” then blossomed into a curvy hook. Curvy hook was with us for a few years until we took Car to the car wash. Car wash caused curvy hook to grow. Exponentially. Lord knows what will happen at a subsequent car wash! Hence we use McKenzie hand wash. About once every six months. Maybe every eight. You can leave lots of nice messages on our paint work …

    • OMG…THE PIT OF THE OIL CHANGE!!! GAH!!!! Don’t even get me started on that. I full out REFUSE to do that. Luckily, the oil change people will do that for me because I tell them I will end up face down in the pit. They have always taken me at my word with that. I think every six months sounds like a reasonable car wash routine. I prefer the annual wash, but you are a go-getter, Kelly!! 😀

  28. I don’t drive my car through the drive through car wash but maybe once every other year. Pretty much for all the same reasons. I can barely drive on a wide road so how I’m supposed to attempt this is beyond me. However, I do have children and I’m pretty sure that their job is to do my bidding. Like wash my car. Unfortunately, said children are almost all moved out. Now I don’t know what I’m going to do about such things. Maybe I can adopt.

    • Good plan, Carli! Or maybe you can train Jeffrey? He could be the first car washing cat in existence!! How cool would that be?!

  29. Too bad there isn’t a car wash attendant like we have here to help steer you in the general vicinity. When I had my VW Bug, it was always too low to get into those car washes so it was dirty 90% of the time. I’m not a good backer upper either. :-/

    • How does everyone have the car wash attendant people but me? Why is Charlotte so lacking in the attendant department. It’s so unfair! I may have to consider a move now that I know my city is deficient! 😀

  30. Oh how I’ve missed you gals! What a relief to know that I’m not the only one with a car wash phobia! Seriously, who CAN line up their giant tires on those tiny tire catching parts?!?! I have, in fact, backed out of the car wash admitting defeat. I would only go at night or other off-peak times to minimize the risk of other cars being in line. Now I just skip the whole awful experience. I’d rather pay a few extra bucks and wash Charlie less often than deal with that insanity!

  31. OHmygosh this is so so adorable!!!! (And a bit hilarious, sorry hun!)

    The adorable part is that you are too scared to wash your car- and I SO get that panic trying to get your wheels aligned on that metal slot WITHOUT seeing your WHEELS!!! And that horrible SCREECHING sound it makes when you are every so slightly off…

    The hilarious part is just picturing you trying over and over again- and like I would be third in line beeping the hell out of my car while you were the one in Old Dirty Granny going back and forth and back and forth… SCREECH…. SCREECH…

    Now- of course if I was IN your car with you, I would be all about encouraging you and talking you down from your COMPLETE meltdown!!!

    I love this post SO much. Keep Granny dirty. I LOVE a car with character!!

  32. I had a silver/grey Pilot for exactly the reason that I wouldn’t have to wash it, I don’t have a problem with the metal grooves I just cannot be bothered. We wore that car out and just recently replaced it with a black Pilot. I know better than to buy black because it gets and is always, always dusty looking but I really wanted this car. My kids have already asked to wash it – I will be saying yes to that. I would love to be the person behind you at the carwash though, just once (and I would have to know it was you because otherwise I’d be probably saying bad things under my breath) because I bet it would be very funny. To me, very funny to me. 🙂

  33. your old granny reminds me of my own beat-up honda civic. go ahead and ding away! parallel parking—not a problem in san francisco when you don’t care if your car gets scratched up. feel sorry for the other cars, though!

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