Upon opening my car door, I was tangled in a spiderweb. This both made me angry and terrified. If this would have happened on the weekend, I would’ve just taken the other car and hope that, much like that silly nursery rhyme, an afternoon rain would wash the stupid web away, along with the demonic spider.
But, it was a week day and I couldn’t exactly call in “spiderweb.” So, I jumped in the car convinced a tarantula was going to crawl across my face and cause me to swerve off of the Palmetto Expressway.
The tense ride gave me time to think about how much I hate my car, as it was the car that attracted the spider to spin its transparent goo all over it. The spider probably looked down and thought, “What a shit turd that Toyota Camry! It’s perfect as my trap for insects that feed off of poop.”
The car was a gift. Like the way people give gifts to Goodwill. It was my mom’s car and she despised it. Hated the way it looked, drove and was the same make and model her mother owned. So, she decided to dump it on my lap. It was paid for and had something like 3,000 miles on it. I planned on hanging on to it for a few months and then trading it in, which is why I never bothered to remove any of the affects my mom left for me to toss. I figured the dealer would take care of trashing the potpourri sprinkled in the ashtray, the pine-shaped air freshener and rosary hanging from the rearview mirror and the miniature bottle perfume in the cup holder. Obviously, this didn’t go as planned. It’s now been seven years and Jesus and the pine tree are still dangling from the mirror.
I mean, how could I get rid of a free car? A free car that has absolutely nothing wrong with it. At least nothing that can’t be fixed with a good car wash. It’s just an image issue. The image of me driving the same car as my grandmother. Well, technically older model now, as good old grams upgrades her Camry every two years.
For this reason, I only drive the car to work. I don’t use it on the weekends or for road trips. I certainly don’t valet it anywhere, but will leave it in parking lots and purposely forget where I parked it.
I didn’t think about the car again, until later that day, when I was driving the thing back home and remembered that I could still be transporting a tarantula across Miami-Dade County. The thought quickly escaped me, as I had a very important dinner date and needed to get home to grab the other car and the date.
We arrived at the restaurant and valet’d. A snarky hostess showed us to our table despite her disapproval at our not having reservations. We enjoyed a highly adorned, three-course meal that was as delicious and its price. After paying, valet brought around our car and we went home. After parallel parking yards away from the Camry, I turned off the engine and held my keys in my hand. They felt lighter. And, upon further inspection, I noticed that the key to the Camry was missing from my key chain.
“Are you kidding me?” she asked, even though she didn’t want to hear an answer.
I just looked at her blankly. And then used my phone to call the restaurant.
“Hi, yes, I was just there having dinner and I noticed that a key was missing from my key chain and I was wondering if maybe valet had found…”
The voice on the other end interrupted me and I recognized it was the hostess.
“Do you drive a Camry or something?”
“Well, no, yes, I mean I wasn’t driving a Camry, but I am missing a Camry key. It is black and…”
She interrupted me again to tell me that valet had found a key and was transferring the call to them.
“You lost the key to your Camry?” the valet guy asked. Defeated, I just responded in the affirmative and made arrangements to return to the scene of the crime.
While driving back to the restaurant, I tried to envision exactly how the key got loose. Was it trying to escape? Or worse, was it trying to get back at me for being so mean to the Camry? I thought about how the valet found this random key without a tag and wondered how it got in their lock box. I wondered if they made the hostess make an announcement to the entire restaurant asking if anyone lost the keys to their Camry. Then I imagined the patrons looking around horrified that someone with a Camry was among them, while one table whispered that it was probably someone who worked in the kitchen.
Now, to be clear, I’m really not like this. I’m really not a snob. I’m fully aware that a car says nothing about who you are. And I’m thankful to even have a car. And, really, I have nothing against the car or people who drive it. I just don’t care for it.
So, I pulled up to the valet, once again, and lowered my window. We exchanged pleasantries and mutual dumbfoundment about how exactly that key came loose. Right before he handed it over he asked, “For security purposes, can you identify the make and model of the car the key belongs to?”