There are a few things more embarrassing than driving through Los Feliz with “Drill, Baby, Drill” painted in shrill green and pink on your driver’s-side window — I just can’t think of any of them.
Keep in mind, I once suffered a semester’s worth of fraternity hazing (I pledged before I depledged), a regrettable epoch in which I was forced to eat dog food, an entire raw onion and — perhaps worst of all — guzzle Teutonic amounts of Jägermeister. In fact, I can only imagine one situation more mortifying than having Sarah Palin propaganda plastered onto my car: the scene in The Big Lebowski in which a penitent Jesus is compelled by law to knock door-to-door, hair net, violet stretch pants and all, informing neighbors of his pederast past.
Rolling soundlessly, queasily out of my driveway, I could almost hear John Goodman’s voice: “Eight-year-olds, Dude.” My only goal was to make it to the car wash as fast as automotively possible. No such luck ... a red light. Worse — a woman in a Prius. I attempted to avert my stare, but then, through some perverse compulsion, felt obligated to unroll the window and explain the star-spangled array of American flags and painted phrases: “McCain/Palin ’08,” “Nobama, Yes Maverick” and Palin’s vampiric oil mantra.
“It’s not my fault,” I shouted. The woman’s facial expression spanned the narrow nexus between utter disgust and complete contempt. “It was a prank that my friends played on me. I’m going to the car wash!”
She sped off with a sneer. The traffic gods relented and I made it to the car wash in mere minutes. Naturally, the line was infinite, cuing another awkward episode of filthy looks and me, idling, inconspicuously trying to read E.B. White, wanting to teleport myself to a Maine saltwater farm — or, at the very least, Yorba Linda, where such vehicular flair would be cheered. Finally, the attendant approached my car. I was prepared, ready to articulate an eloquent defense of universal health care and gay marriage (granted, Obama explicitly supports neither of these things, but that’s beside the point). Before I could so much as cough out the phrase “lower premiums,” though, he sized me up and returned with the owner, a lumbering lummox who looked like the long-lost brother of Telly Savalas.
“What kind of car wash you want?” he spat at me, his voice eerily resembling the treasury secretary of an esoteric Balkan republic. I asked whether they still offered the $9.99 Tuesday and Wednesday deal.
I dug around in my glove compartment and produced two coupons that had expired around the time “Swift Boat” became a verb. “I’ll take the cheapest one.”
“Just so you know, we won’t do a very good job,” he said. “Your car is very dirty.” I explained that that was precisely why I was here. He sighed, rolled his eyes and rubbed his stove-pot stomach.
“You’re paying for the cheapest one,” he grumbled. They’d run it through once, but I was on my own if the stuff didn’t come off.
Of course, it didn’t come off. And true to his word, his workers barely even tried to remove the paint (which my “friends” had assured would be easily erased). Desperate, I pleaded to the guy wiping down my tires for a bucket of water. He walked away, and soon returned with the manager.
“What do you want now?” he asked.
“Just a bucket of water to wash this crap off my car.”
“We can’t give you that. You could sue us.”
“For helping me get my car clean?”
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“It’s against policy.”
“You’ve got to help me,” I pleaded. “I can’t drive around like this. I’m voting for Obama. Someone will key my car.”
He suggested I go to an automotive store and buy some remover. “Spray it on your car and it’ll come off like that.”
There was nothing left to say. I paid my tip and departed in my own little Straight Talk Express. Oh, and turns out he was right — “Drill, Baby, Drill” disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. If only getting rid of Sarah Palin was that simple.