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The $500 prize that should have been mine

Submitted by on Thursday, 3 July 2008 No Comment

“She’s a dear friend with good intentions, which is why I’ll some day find it in my heart to forgive her. For now, the bitterness lingers. I can’t forget the way she screwed me out of $500.

N meant well when she took it upon herself to degunk the inside of my car last week. We’d just gotten home from Little Guy’s birthday party and N had stopped by to help me unload his presents.

What she saw must have shocked her down to her shoes.

Art projects in rainbow hues, from Valentine’s Day pink to sunny summer yellow.

Three cruddy jackets — no, I don’t know how a woman with two kids winds up with three jackets scrunched up on the floorboards.

Baggies with Cheerio and Cinnamon Toast Crunch crumbs. Enough trains to keep Sir Topham Hatt’s railway running on time for decades. Last month’s mail. Cheeto schrapnel.

Four Starbucks cups. I always transfer the coffee to my travel mug after I drive through, but then I save the cup because I reuse them for at least the next 24 hours. I prefer to microwave coffee in paper rather than glass. It’s a quirk I probably need to seek counseling for.

To you — and to N — it might sound like a mess. To me, it sounded like the winning entry in parenting.com’s Messiest Car Contest.

Sadly, the email announcing the contest didn’t land in my inbox until this week, long after N’s tour de trash. Otherwise, I would have borrowed my neighbor’s pit bull to stand guard over my precious landfill on wheels.

The prizes are great — a 500 gas card, a gift certificate car detailing and a $200 gift certificate for spa treatments. I’m sure I’d need the spa treatment after realizing the $500 gas card only buys half a tank .

For me, though, it’s not about the material goods. It’s a chance to be recognized in an area where I excel.

I say that, not in a boastful way, but with some degree of shame. I don’t really like being a slob — somewhere deep inside, in fact, there’s a neat freak dying to break free and rebel at the constantly swirling chaos.

Except for a brief backslide in the aftermath of Little Guy’s birthday — cake-decorating is not a tidy hobby — we’ve done well with the house of late The guys finally are learning that dirty clothes don’t go in the living room floor and milk smells awful if you don’t take the glass to the sink right now. The crapalanche that is the dining room table remains unconquered, but we’re getting there.

The car is the last untamable frontier, though we try mightily. About once a month, Big Guy will survey our ride, wrinkle his tiny nose and declare, “”This car is a garbage can.”"

And I know that as soon as we get home, he’ll bolt for the kitchen, grab plastic bags and order his brother and I to help clear our mess. That kid’s neat freak has no problem breaking out. He loves cleaning so much that he insists on keeping the vacuum in his bedroom. Genetic mutant.

We leave empty bags in the car and vow to use them from that day forward.

It usually lasts less than a week.

Which is a good thing. The messy car contest deadline isn’t until Aug. 3. If I can keep N away, I’m sure I can re-create a respectable Hazmat scene by then.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved

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