Like many folks, I tend to get anxious about doing things I haven't done before. It's not fear so much as just general stress, because I don't know what to expect, and I don't want to do things wrong. I'm taking my car to a car wash tomorrow, and since I haven't been to one in about twenty years (I'm twenty-four years old), I have absolutely no idea what to do, where to drive up to, how to pick the right option, etc. etc. I know I'll be completely fine, I just dislike the unknown.
But unlike most folks, there's a second component to my anxiety about tomorrow. ACTUAL FEAR.
As a kid, I always lived in single family homes with garages and driveways and yard work capabilities. So when it was time to wash the car, we would park the car in the driveway, grab the garden hose and some buckets of soapy water, and have a blast. And then when we were older, we just didn't wash our cars because we were busy, and they were just going to get dirty again anyway. I need to wash my car, though, because it's still not clean from that time I drove up to Vermont and Maine and got stuck on a muddy highway during a small snowstorm (seriously, entire car was splattered in mud and I had to stop and wash each window because I couldn't see out of them). And I need to sell the damn thing; dirty cars don't sell as well or for as much as clean ones.
But I have been to car washes before, back when I was little. But I just vividly remember the last time.
I was very little and had recently seen some black and white movie where a woman went through a car wash and the soap got in and it was HORRIBLE!!! So while we were going through, I became frightened and convinced that the soap was leaking through the (very, very closed) windows, and that it was getting in my eyes and stinging them. So I had to have a towel over my eyes for the duration of the car wash, and I was so panicked afterwards that I think that might have contributed to the fact that I don't remember going through another one since.
Now obviously, the soap didn't get into the car, and I was perfectly safe (as was my ENTIRE family, who were all in the car with me and didn't seem to have their eyes stung by the imaginary soap). But I was still convinced at the time that it was awful, and so today, faced with the prospect of going through the car wash, I'm nervous. I also looked up information on what exactly happens inside, and it was pretty scary-looking shit. I mean, I'll still do it, but please indulge this last childhood fear of mine. I got over my fear of the Joker, after all. What more do you people want?*
I was on the phone with my mom last night, who empathized with my anxiety about going to a car wash when I didn't know what to expect (we're back to the normal anxiety and not the irrational fear). She had the same problem when she went last year to have her car washed and detailed. I mentioned my childhood fear to her, which she remembered, and she laughed. Apparently, I had recently watched an old Doris Day movie, where a character had gone through the car wash in a car with the top down. I couldn't believe any movie would have something so stupid, but I wanted to check. You see, I wanted to discover the plot of this movie, which could only have been a horror movie, and figure out what evil villain would have rigged it so that a person would be forced to go through a car wash with the top down.
Well, I found it. It's called "Move Over, Darling," from 1963, and although I don't know why the car wash scene exists, I do know something new: the damn movie is a screwball comedy. OF COURSE.
If soap gets in my eyes tomorrow, it is completely Doris Day's fault.
* As a kid, I was terrified of the Joker. I sometimes had nightmares that he was coming to kill me, I once thought he climbed up to my window to kidnap me (oh, you betcha I screamed and woke the whole house up!), and I had to sleep with my closet light on and the closet door open for several years. When The Dark Knight came out, I went with my manliest dude friend because I was really terrified, and I ended up loving the movie and finding the Joker terrifying but in a fascinating way. I think it's very strange that the very movie that really instilled the fear of the Joker into so many people actually relieved me of my fear.