While commuting into downtown DC this afternoon, admiring the view of the monuments from my gridlocked vantage point, and trying to tune out the piercingly annoying voice of Elmo rattling on about pets to my kids in the backseat, part of my brain registers that there is something a little off with my car. It reminds me of something.

Senior year of college a friend offers me a ride to the store. I gratefully accept. International students are not so much with the cars and driver’s licenses not having passed through the obligatory “Driver’s Ed” course. This,  despite the fact that learning to “drive” in such a class on an automatic can hardly amount to more than learning to “steer.” This not to say that I couldn’t drive (or steer) with the best of them, having survived the  grueling, stick-shift driving, hand break vertical parking test required to man a car in South Africa. But I digress. I had no car and, as far as I can remember, no US State license yet. You always said “yes” to a ride to the store. It was October. We were going through a LOT of candy corn.

So my friend pulls up -yay – free ride; hello sugar high! I get into the front passenger side and realize there is NO WHERE TO PUT MY FEET. Why, you may ask? Because the footwell is filled with what I can only assume are the remanants of every meal, every soda, every bag of chips, every hot dog wrapper, every napkin, every disgusting leftover scrap of trash known to man a senior boy.

“Abort trip, abort trip,” My mind is yelling. “Nothing is worth this. You should have gone to the library instead, you fool. Besides, they always have snacks there.”

I can NOT immerse my feet in . . . that. So, they hover above the footwell while I wait for him to manfully realize my plight and divest his car of this sea of refuse. He does not. Instead, he looks at me with disappointment, “I didn’t expect this of you, Lisa-Jo. I thought you were above these kinds of material things. I didn’t realize you were so into image.”

Are you kidding me dude who could pay off half his college tuition in recycled cans?

Suffice to say, I was not down with the whole, “Oscar the Grouch is my homeboy and my car is my trashcan” manifesto.

** End flashback**

Deep sigh. Pause.

Fast forward 15 years and 2 kids and what do you know, but I’m all, “Hello, Oscar! Top of the morning to ya. What did you and the missus produce in my back seat this time?”

Yea, it’s true. My car would now make that dude from senior year’s car blush. Is it ok if I blame my kids? Because, you are gonna want to blame someone after I reveal the tally of my car’s contents. It is almost too good bad to be true. But in painful fairness to that dude who once considered me “uppity” for my reaction to his squalor, honesty demands that I fess up to what my daily commute now looks like. And I promise, cross my heart and all that good stuff, that this is a true list, the whole ugly truth and nothing but the truest, grossest confession of the contents of my car:

  1. Let’s start with the slimy little circlets of ham from the snack packs I use to keep the kids quietly munching while on the go.
  2. Naturally, there are crackers and cheese to go with that.
  3. There’s an inside-out sock that has definitely been used as a tissue (more than once).
  4. What an arm-length flashlight is doing there, I haven’t the foggiest, but Micah was delighted to discover it under the sock this afternoon. I’m still amazed he didn’t bash himself or Jack in the head while shining it all around and using it as a telescope.
  5. There’s a tupperware full of change and another one full of wheaties.
  6. There are several mangled, chewed and colored upon maps.
  7. One drumstick (the musical kind, not the chicken kind).
  8. A lone, tiny, green plastic frog.
  9. The child’s rearview mirror meant for keeping an eye on the parent from back when Micah’s car seat was still rear facing. He’s been sitting face forward for nearly a year now.
  10. One back-scratcher.
  11. Diapers – both used and unused.
  12. Wipes, naturally. And no, I am not immune to the irony.
  13. A bedraggled toothbrush.
  14. A sippy cup with milk so old it’s practically evolved into bacteria with the ability to speak.
  15. A double stroller.
  16. An aligator floatie.
  17. One adult sandal.
  18. Assorted kids shoes.
  19. Crushed goldfish crackers and pretzels. And yes, Micah is always recovering them from deep within the seats. And no, I don’t stop him from eating them.
  20. Pens, crayons and a fruit knife.
  21. Many, many still bagged and unopened copies of the Washington Post – note to self: cancel subscription.
  22. Half eaten chicken nuggets.
  23. Assorted empty and half empty soda cans.
  24. Sticky, soda stains in both cup holders due to above.
  25. Empty, plastic grocery bags.
  26. String.
  27. A baseball hat.
  28. A minature basketball.
  29. Oh, and last, but not least, let’s not forget our rearview mirror that after dangling from a thread for months, jiggling back and forth and up and down in a nauseating manner, has finally given up the ghost and fallen off altogether, and is now making the rear left footwell its home.

Without actually going out to the car to check, I think that’s it.  More than enough, I know. How the uppity are humbled. In case you weren’t counting, the final score was Car: 29, Lisa-Jo’s pride: 0.