Wax On, Wax Off: I learned how to clean glass from my father

Saturday morning, Summertime Chi (a season unto itself) is the perfect day for cleaning 'round the house. Blinds pulled up, windows open wide, music bumping. Perfection. Mornings like that remind me this is a ritual  ingrained in the childhood memories of just about every black person I know, somewhere between family reunion BBQs and cartoons followed by Soul Train. Mornings like that also remind me of my father.

I was 19 years old when I learned the proper way to clean glass. I had just bought my very first car, a fresh-off-the-lot 1999 Ford Escort. Atlantic Blue. I was ecstatic to have my own car and move around whenever I wanted because I hate waiting on other people to go or leave anywhere, but the finer points of car care, like actually washing it, were lost on me. Two good things that I distinctly know and remember about my father are that he loved fishing and he loved washing and waxing his cars.

One day, I drove my car over to Dad's house and he and my older brother washed it for me. They both have a thing for cars, so I know they were in all their glory. I can't really remember if I helped or not (and knowing me, my memory leans closer to "or not"), but I remember being fascinated when it came time to clean the windows. "You're supposed to clean glass with newspaper?" I had never seen or heard anyone doing that before. Before 19, I guess I always used paper towel or a rag. My cleaning habits pre-newspaper seemed so silly after seeing that brilliant, streak-free shine on all my car windows when they were finished. You would have thought my Dad and brother just pulled Tupac out the trunk right along with the Armor All and Turtle Wax. Wish I had found out about this secret sooner.

And so, whenever I clean glass I think of that day and I think of him. Sometimes it's just a brief thought that floats by. Other times, I start to think about all the other cool things my father could've taught me if only...I don't know much about him on a personal level and it seems like most of the memories I do have are tasty croissants of negativity, but I'm sure there were other great "mysteries" that he could've solved for me.

No, my daddy wouldn't a glass maker, but this daughter can still see streaks of him when I clean my mirrors.


Leave a comment