Send help!Dogged pursuit of every last detail

By JOHN LORSONColumnist Published:

Preparing a car for sale is a bit of an art form. Even a vehicle that has been well-loved and carefully cared for can be bumped-up a notch or two with the help of a thorough detail job. It's a lot like a girl getting ready for the prom. Consider, for instance, a natural beauty. Quiet, confident and perfectly comfortable in a ponytail and boots, she's content to blend in with the rest of girls on any given day. But on prom night, once she's been through the full-blown, pre-prom nails-make-up-hair-and-gown treatment she can turn heads quicker than an aced serve at Wimbledon. That's exactly what you'd like your old car to do when it's time to hang that sign in the window!

And just as our prom queen preps with a team of trusted experts, our once-treasured automobiles must spend time in the company of a master if they are to win the eyes and hearts of prospective buyers. I am as blessed in this regard as the daughter of a Broadway seamstress for my brother, Jeff, a master of all things automobile!

I spent the biggest part of a Sunday afternoon under Jeff's watchful eye vacuuming, scrubbing, polishing and dressing my dear Suburban in preparation for its orange-and-black-signed coming-out in a parking lot near a highly-trafficked intersection. Hours, and hours, and HOURS I slaved; and this on a vehicle that had never been allowed to remain "dirty" for more than a day or two at a time! Alas, I was reminded of the sad irony of creating a thing of beauty in the gritty, gray world of wintertime Northeast Ohio when I rolled my snow-white beauty out the door of the shop onto a carpet of cinders beneath a spray of sleet.

Traveling the few blocks toward home I ran a tight slalom course between the puddles only to arrive in a driveway still befouled by circles of brown froth created in the greasy, dying gasps of my little red Plymouth. I strategically straddled the puddles, parking where I could exit the vehicle without stepping directly into one.

I left the driver's door open as I dashed into the garage to grab a tube of Super Glue with which I intended to dress up a tiny crack in the trim. I twisted at the lid of the glue as I made my way back to the gleaming machine.

"Wow, the Suburban looks awesome!" said my son Ben as he stepped into the drive with our little dog, Ruby, trotting at his side.

"Thanks! It was a lot of work," I said.

Ben paused for a moment to take in the full picture and as he did, Ruby, the ever dutiful mutt, sat down at his side directly in one of those previously-mentioned grease puddles.

"Ack! Get that dog out of that nasty slime!" I shouted.

Ruby, whose two strategies for dealing with human displeasure are: a.) rolling over on her back; and b.) heading for close and heavy cover; performed both of these rituals in rapid order with the latter of the two nearly stopping my heart as the grease-dipped mutt shot straight up into the driver's seat!

There were screams, yes, and panicked shouts; none of which worked to assuage the dog's exploding anxiety. She dove further into the shadowy confines of the vehicle leaving a well-defined witness of sludge with every movement.

I don't believe I've moved quite that swiftly since my long-ago lifeguarding days. And who would have imagined that my training to restrain and extract combative drowning victims would find utility decades later in removing a small, slimy dog from beneath a car seat?

Scrubbing with wild haste while a bewildered mutt cowered outside, I was able to remove every trace of the incident from the tan interior before the stains set in. Unfortunately forgotten in the moments as they had unfolded was one large, uncapped tube of adhesive -- and a moment can be a very, very long time when it comes to super glue! (More on that next week!)

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