Monday, March 23, 2015

Feeling Chippy

A couple of years ago I decided to spruce up the ol' Honda. By "spruce up" I decided to make myself feel like I had hit it big in life. My reasoning for doing so was based on some admittedly weird ideation.

I've been a pretty avid reader of Car & Driver. Seems like everyone who drives the latest Mercedes M16 Bigshot or the Infiniti Q-Ship (complete with wet bar and foot massager) has fancy wood appliques (Peruvian Elm Burl, thank you) affixed around the gauges so they can think to themselves, "wow, I have genuine reproduction wood trim around my tachometer. Hope this puts me on  the fast track to upper management". To me, wood burl signifies that one has successfully scratched his or her way to the top. Leave the plain old black gauge clusters for the cubicle people. The wood look is for the movers and shakers, baby.

Seriously, when applied correctly, it does lend a certain feeling of "move over, you in the Prius. Success is coming through!"

That "success" was successful for about a year and a half. After approximately forty-seven Armor-All baths, each applied with the same loving care that is taken when shearing a sheep in preparation for making an angora sweater, the appliques began to lose their charm.

By that, I mean they began to erode and chip from the caustic solution in the wondrous greasy stuff. Seriously, it began to look like some lady with long fingernails and a short temper had clawed her way, Freddy Kruger-style, across the fake knotholes and simulated stress lines of the decals which I had applied, so lovingly, one July afternoon following a long day of work.

My first mistake was that I used decals rather than the fancier plastic parts which are much sturdier. Those are much more durable, even if "Please Peel And Stick" is sometimes visible through the parts encircling the cup holder.

The second mistake was using gallons of that fantastic, slimy protectant which we all love to use on our vehicle's interiors. Knowing that your center console is the shiniest one in the parking lot can make you feel like Mitt Romney in a primary debate. Armor-All, as it turns out, dry rots cheap decals over time. Unfortunately, it also virtually welds decals to interior panels. I discovered that during the four hours or so I spent removing them, one square millimeter at a time (with my thumbnails, which proves how doggedly determined I can be when I can't find tools), across each panel proudly displaying enough wood grain to cover the entire Amazon region.

And, along the way, I managed to compact approximately forty-seven square miles of decal scrapings under both thumbnails, thereby causing no small number of cuts under each nail and making me worry about staph infection by next Thursday.

I can say this: the man who operates the detailing site expressed a limitless degree of patience, though I'm sure he wondered if I was homeless and had decided that my current residence should be Brambleton Car Wash, Roanoke, Va. I do know that he appreciated the large number of tokens I had to purchase in order to vacuum out the cubic yards' worth of "look like a big shot with burl!" now covering my floor mats, the front seats, and the coin tray like fungus.

Now, at 2:03 AM I'm typing this, my thumbs finally not hurting so much. In all, I had a pleasant afternoon. The interior looks great. I learned that I can't design a Honda interior as well as Honda can. It's back to the basics for me: humble I-work-in-a-cubicle black plastic (not that I work in a cubicle, but you get the point about the unpretentious black plastic panels). I'm sure that, for the next several years, the occasional chip of simulated burl will flit out through the vents whenever I crank up the AC or the heat. And that's okay.

That's the price I'll pay for feeling chippy.


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