I should probably be embarrassed to share these.

I thought my 16-year-old son’s room was messy. Then he got custody of a car.

That car is gross.

It kinda looks like a rolling Circle K food truck that would be on the health department’s watch list with the opened package of Lay’s lime chips (a questionable snacking choice) and powdered Hostess mini doughnuts (Don’t mind if I do! Eew, stale!) on the front passenger seat and half-drunk Gatorade bottles sloshing around the front and back floorboards. Ironically, Uncrustables wrappers litter most of the interior. I say ironically because that is the opposite of how I’d describe that vehicle.

SUV, in this particular instance, stands for Snack Utility Vehicle.

I made the mistake the other day of climbing into it because our driveway — with all the licensed drivers in the family — looks every bit like a used car lot. Naturally, one car always needs to be moved so I can get out of the carport. I unlocked the door on that old Highlander that we’ve had since before No. 3 was born and that I think is gray-blue but everyone else insists is green and was immediately horrified. I mean, I don’t know why. It’s not like he hasn’t always been the messiest of all the kids.

As a toddler, he routinely had food stuck in his hair, on his face, all over his clothes. I bought him a shirt that said “Mr. Messy” that was permanently stained within the first 45 seconds of wear. The dogs each put on 6 pounds after he was old enough to feed himself, and they all still circle his seat at the dining room table like sharks at a chum bucket. Which actually, now that I think about it, is how I’m going to start referring to his car.

So anyway, I looked down at that driver’s seat that was once pristine pale gray leather and is now tie-dyed with dirt smears. Lettuce is stuck on the upper seat corner and finely shredded cheese smooshed into the seams, which hints at a recent or more likely not-so-recent Taco Bell meal, and it made me wish I had one of those paper placemat thingies that the Subaru dealership blankets my car with to keep it clean.

Early in the summer, I thought — because I’m delusional — that I could teach him to be neater.

I grabbed a black, multi-compartment trunk organizer and rooted around in his car to pack up two basketballs, orange cones for drills, a pair of basketball shoes and a pair of slides, which I zipped up inside and then neatly left in the back. I noticed the other day that the empty organizer was deposited in the storage closet and basketballs are back to rolling around in the trunk. So much for that.

Guess I’ll just have to do the same thing I do when I need to go into his room: Take a deep breath so I don’t have to inhale, hope I can quickly find what I’m looking for — and pray that my tetanus shot is up to date.

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