Car wash as ritual cleansing

“I took the Buick to a carwash yesterday. There was a steady flow of cars entering it, and I noticed that almost all of them were perfectly clean. The institution of the carwash in California really has very little to do with the washing of cars. It’s more of a ritual — a ceremony of self-purification. It is not your car but you, its owner, who feels cleaner and better as it emerges gleaming from the assembly line, to be polished by the Chicano staff. For an extra dollar (which I spend) you can send the car through a device that subjects it to a boiling spray of Carnuba wax. This represents the annealing fire through which the soul must pass if it is to be purified. I always climb back into my cleansed car feeling, as I am sure Catholics must feel after Confession, a better man.”

The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan, edited by John Lahr

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