MAUREEN BURNS: The clean car club

By Maureen Burns • Last Updated 10:52 am on Monday, April 23, 2012

Maureen Burns

I can divide my friends into two groups — those with clean cars and those with cars like mine. You know who you are and which group you fall into. It is always harder for me to relate to the members of the clean car club. However, I can always relate to members of the clean plate club, but I know that totally doesn’t relate to this column.

My car used to be a lot cleaner. Perhaps that is just a figment of my memory — whatever.

One problem in my car is all the bags. You know what I’m talking about — all those cloth bags we use at the grocery store. I guess I should say, all those bags we want to use at the grocery store. More often than not, I leave mine in the car and end up with the weak ones the stores provide. I am always tempted to ask the long line behind me if they mind if I run out to the parking lot and get my bags. I have never quite had the courage to do that. I am very aware that this takes longer than it sounds, as likely when I get outside, I will wonder that age-old question. Where’d I park my car? We have two cars and sometimes I look for ages for the one I didn’t drive. I tell ya, life is really not easy for some of us.

Another problem in my car is all the dog stuff. There is the great big dog seat for the little tiny dog. He has to have a seat so he can see out. Life is no fun if you ride around all the time and can’t see where you’re going. Then there are the dog treats and the dog water and the dog dish. Oh, and the bag to sneak him in to the movie or wherever else he might need to go.

I don’t really eat a lot in my car so I am saved from that kind of mess. However, I do drink lattes in the car and that has proven to be pretty tricky.

First of all, I never want a lid on my latte. Oh, no. Those lids irritate me. They are so confining. I hate those small little openings that make the latte drip down my face and onto whatever I’m wearing. And, on top of the leaking drips, the holes are just not big enough to get a good ole slurp. They also don’t allow you the fun of all that fabulous foam.

Recently I realized I had a problem with lattes getting all over my car. My daughter asked to see my car manual. As I hauled it out, I noticed it had latte all over it and many of the pages had gone from white to tan.

Then I noticed the dash with hints of latte spray here and there. That happens when I have a full latte and the dog bumps me or I hit a bump or anything else happens.

When I was just starting to read the book, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” I spilled latte all over it as it lay on my car seat. I had to cut edges to the pages out in order to not have it all stick together. It ended up looking like it had been caught in some wild kind of machine that ate it up in the most awful way. I suppose I could have bought a new copy but the text was fine. Later my daughter wanted to borrow it and I gave it to her. She returned it the next time I saw her and said it was so disgusting that she couldn’t read it and had to buy her own copy. Some people are so picky.

I have dropped whole lattes in parking lots. I have dropped at least two all over my car seats and floor. The worst drop, however, was into my friend, Bev Geyer’s, purse. Her purse was sitting on the floor and was wide open. The latte fell completely inside. Everything in her purse was wet and sticky.

She was so kind. She kept saying, “No problem. Don’t worry.” A couple years later she ’fessed up. She had had to replace almost everything in the purse as well as the purse itself. She even had to wash the money. She is quite a lady, though. She still meets me for lattes and never flinches.

Not to end on a negative note, though, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite drinks at the different coffee places. Biggby has a caramel marvel as their signature drink and it is mighty fine. My husband and I have our favorite at Starbucks — a hazelnut latte. Madcap — at the corner of Ottawa and Monroe in Grand Rapids — is way cool and they have a honey latte as their signature drink. It sounded awful to me, but was wonderful.

Julie’s Coffee House in Greenville is my usual spot, though. Julie is on a personal level with her customers and she makes all kinds of drinks I enjoy. If you tell her what you like, she’ll make one just for your taste.

So, enjoy your lattes, folks. And as far as my car goes, don’t judge me! We can’t all be members of the clean car club.

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is

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