Not A Seinfeld Episode, My Own Smelly Car Story

I have this adorable, funny, long term friend who I call Lucy (not her real name) because she is a lot like Lucy Ricardo from the “I Love Lucy” sitcom.
I am her unwitting Ethel (called Eth for short) who has spent years going along with her exploits. These generally result in her opening her eyes wide, and forming a perfect “O” with her mouth, as she realizes another hair-brained scheme has gone awry.

Now don’t get me wrong – life is certainly more interesting with a friend like this, even though I have been on the unfortunate receiving end of many a scenario gone bad. (This is where I do my best Ethel Mertz frown!)

Just one example is the time we decided to go in together and purchase a big amount of pasta from a local restaurant (with tons of garlic I might add) to help a friend who had to serve a bunch of people after a death in her family.

Since I am always somehow the “getaway” driver in her situations, instead of just picking up the pasta and then picking up Lucy, I allowed Lucy to pick it up. Since this required an extra trip out of the way to the restaurant on Lucy’s part, When the dish was ready for me to pick up with Lucy, she had removed the sealed top. Perhaps she tasted or kept some, but the point is, that the top was removed and put back on, no longer sealing it.

At any rate, when she prepared it to put it in the back of my brand new Volvo station wagon, it was not secured in any way, shape, or form.

Every turn could mean overturned pasta in my car. Having a lot on my mind and being in a rush, I didn’t take notice of any of this.

Only three minutes later, as I was driving, we both noticed the strong scent of garlic suddenly wafting to the front of the car.

“Sure smells delicious,” Lucy commented.

When we got to our destination and opened the back of my car, one quarter of the contents of the pasta had shifted up and out of the container onto the carpet at the rear of the station wagon.

“You put that in here unsecured, just like that?” I yelled at her. “Lucy’s” big round eyes and mouth forming an “O” followed.  “I didn’t realize it would shift that way on such a short drive,” said Lucy.

We quickly, in our dresses, dumped out the bad stuff on the street, shifted the contents back into the container that could be salvaged, and headed into our friend’s house – dumping the dish down on the kitchen counter and rushing into the bathroom to clean our hands. Then we had to greet everyone as if nothing happened.

As far as the saucy mess on the car’s rear carpet, well, that had to wait several hours to be cleaned up later. (In 90 degree broiling heat, that sauce just kept cooking!)

I cleaned the mess later at home with Pine Sol and other strong cleaning ingredients.

Long story short, that garlic odor that smelled so delicious that day became embedded into the carpet and took its permanent place as this strange, stale odor of garlic that no amount of carpet shampooing, fumigating, deodorizing, air-freshening, or airing out could get rid of. For two years until we sold that car, every time a new kid entered the wagon for one carpool or another, the inevitable question was asked,” What is that funny smell?”

There was a complete Seinfeld episode on a smelly car, but I, my friends, have actually lived that story, thanks to Lucy. (Actual event, not made up for sitcom material.)

When people ask why I kept driving the car for so long, it was a matter of finances. The minute you drive a car off the lot, you lose money. I couldn’t have recouped hardly any money for that car had I tried to sell it right away with that smell. I needed a large, safe reliable station wagon (Before I broke down when the kids were bigger and purchased the requisite mommy van.)

Fortunately kids are pretty resilient, and no one ever refused a ride in the famous smelly car.

When I traded it in to a dealer a couple years later, I don’t know whether they realized it had a perma-odor. You and I both know that you don’t get much for trade-ins, so I didn’t feel so bad. Goodbye smelly car, but it was not the last calamity at the hands of my dear friend Lucy!


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