Today is different. Today I cleaned the car.
‘Is cleaning the car a matter of universal interest?’ you might ask. Well, sort of. It was sunny, you see, and the car radio was playing one of those Viennese waltzes known and loathed by true music lovers everywhere. It struck me that a man cleaning a car on a sunny Sunday lunchtime, with the Blue Danube Waltz, or whatever it was, playing quietly but just loud enough to put passers by into a state of simpering reverie, is the very epitome of traditional suburban living. It goes with roast beef dinners, the imminent prospect of Sunday school, and that awful sinking feeling you get when contemplating the unavoidable reality of having to go back to school or work tomorrow.
‘Why a man?’
‘You said a man cleaning the car.’
Oh, that. Yes, it has to be a man because in traditional suburban culture, only men clean cars. The man owns the car; the man drives the car; the man cleans the car. The traditional suburban male expects his wife to clean everything else, but he would be less than sane to allow the little lady anywhere near his trusted steed. (And I expect this Law of Right Attitude still prevails in South Dakota.)
Really; I was there.
So anyway, the realisation disturbed me. It occurred to me that sundry lane strollers (and even those on horseback, of which there was one) might have their simpering reverie polluted by the notion that I belong. They might even think I have a job or something. That would never do, so I resolved only to be seen on a Sunday doing something either disreputable or at least culturally neutral. I don’t really care about my reputation, you understand, as long as it doesn’t encourage the view that I might be worth inviting in for morning coffee after all.