Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A time to play

I love my car. It has become for me the equivalent of what the loo used to be in Yeshiva (college). The one place I can really be alone and think undisturbed. True the mobile phone has disturbed the peace in both these recluse spots, but still the car is where I can listen to my CDs and even sing along if I want. My daily drive to work is the time when I simply let my mind go and see where it takes me. Some of my best ideas were beamed in to me, in my car, in between Tears for Fears and Nick Ferrari.

I really enjoyed washing it a few weeks ago. Soapy bucket of water. Lather it up well rubbing all over the entire surface gently, with a soft fresh cloth change every few minutes to stop the built-up grime scratching the polish. I go in with a brush around the wheels and a strong spray across the grills and lights. I hose down with warm water and then dry off with more fresh cloths, paying special attention to those intimate places inside the fold of the door and around the air vents. Next comes a thorough vacuuming of the carpets, the mats and all the ashtrays and such. Upholstery cleaner on the seats (leather feels horrible in a car) furniture polish on the dashboard, Windowlene on all the windows and chrome polish on all the chrome. A nice, creamy, wax coating is polished off the entire bodywork with a special cotton-wool-like cloth and, in a spot-test, a single globule of H2O literally rolls across the entire bonnet like water off a duck’s back. Finally, I change the air-freshener to a kosher for Pesach one and we are done for this year.

I would love to do it every week, foolish romantic that I am, but I know that cannot be and bitterness is a sin of course. I am allowed to wash my car for Pesach because that is a mitzvah. My wife can thus happily tell her parents, “Sorry Shaig’s mobile is in here, he is outside washing the car.” Washing your car in the middle of the year, however, is to our community what dancing, when you are only one on the dance floor, would be everywhere else; Allowed, but oh my Rebbe! So the same rule that decides that if I play football with my son on holidays I am a good father but if I do on Sunday in the park I am a failure to the community, applies here too.

What we have forgotten, in our rush to circle the wagons, is that enjoyment is not really a waste of time better spent learning, as we incorrectly try to impress upon our school kids, but an integral part of the human life experience. When we were told as kids to enjoy ourselves less it was because our enjoyment and playtime were already programmed into our day and what was required was concentration during the lessons. What our current beards seem to have done is to take those instructions literally and build a lifestyle round it.

The Jews in the desert were blessed for having the doors of their individual tents strategically placed so as to allow no peeping in. The same wise men that are careful to remind us this wonderful aversion to gossip the Midbarians displayed are those that have allowed our society to be ruled by a system of punishment-by-gossip for anything that does not seem holy enough. As Brian’s mum would say, ‘They don’t seem very wise to me’.

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