L’Auto Lavage Erotique


[Since yesterday’s post was about a car wash, I thought I would stick to the theme for another day. For about five years in the late 80s/early 90s I wrote a humor column for the Vermont Sunday Magazine. Reading them now seems quaintly dated. In today’s woke/cancel culture, I’d last about a nano-second, but it’s instructive to look back a quarter century to see what was considered humor and within the standards of good taste as defined by a family newspaper. SB SM]

One of the great things about Beyonder is its proximity to Quebec, and the great thing about proximity is that you can make fun of them with impunity. Say something derogatory about an Iraqi, and Eskimo, a Chinese and you will be resoundingly chastised as a racist bigot. Say something about someone from New York, however, and people will be slapping on the back.

April, by the way, is a great time to get your car washed.

So maybe I’m getting older and wiser. In my brash, youthful days I thought nothing of insulting a whole nationality in print. Now, however, before committing character assassination, I always try to butter up the group to be offended by extravagantly praising them in advance. Let’s take, for instance, our neighbors to the immediate north-the Quebecois, or in the harsh tones of Yankee dialect, “kebbekkerz.”

Can anyone deny that the women of Quebec are beautiful? Or that the food can be marvelous?

The relationship of Vermonters and the Quebecois is enigmatic, not unlike the slogan that appears on the provincial license plate, Je Me Souviens. Everyone agrees that the slogan is hauntingly evocative, but no one can agree what it means or how it is properly translated into English.

Having now praised the Quebecois, let’s point out a few of their humorous foibles so that we can all share a cross-cultural chuckle.

Montreal is a cultural center, right? And the people are all fashion conscious. Why is it now considered fashionable for men to wear loud, hideous sweaters, with meaningless English slogans on the front? I had a business lunch with two Montreal gentlemen recently. One had a sweater that proclaimed “Point Zero Trend,” while the other proudly stated “Le Authentic Garment.”

OK, check “clothes” off the insult list. Now, food. We have already established that one can eat pretty well north of the border. There is one notable exception, called poutine, that will make your arteries harden just by reading about it. Poutine is the national luncheon dish, favored by truck drivers and working sorts, and a staple at the roadside canteens that are French equivalents of diners. Poutine is no more than a Mont Blanc-sized mound of french fries, swimming in a gravy, over a nice bed of cheese curds. Cheese curds! Nutritional balance is obviously not the point of this dish.

What I like most about Quebec, however, is that one can be driving along (usually at 120 kilometers per hour), through pleasant rural countryside, and suddenly find a joint offering nude dancing. This is not my imagination; I’ve looked up “danseuses nue” three times in the dictionary to make sure that my interpretation is correct (as if the signs are not graphic enough).

Even more insight to the Quebec psyche is provided by a small incident that took place recently in Granby, Quebec, when town fathers, in a staunch display of Puritan ethics, decided to ban erotic car washes.

The erotic car wash, or L’Auto Lavage Erotique, is a concept that threatens our way of life in the Northland. Think it through. Everyone knows that keeping a car free from road salt is essential to maintaining a vehicle past the payment period, but that washing one’s vehicle is a task of such monumental unpleasantness that it makes going to the dentist or watching re-runs of the ETV auction look recreational by comparison.

Fascination with exotic car washes appears to be cross-cultural

Now, some Quebecois came up with the idea of having your car washed by a nubile nymphette “san vetements,” as they would say. And if what is good for the goose is good for the gander, the Quebecois might have L’Auto Lavage Erotiques with pieces of beefcake wearing little more than bow ties to revive mother’s interest in vehicular hygiene.

Dutch car wash

Think of it. People washing their cars twice a week. Cars would last for ten years, mufflers would not need replacing every year. To put it succinctly, it would be an economic disaster; precisely what the town fathers of Granby foresaw.

The chances of an erotic car wash opening in Vermont, are, therefore, roughly equivalent to the chance of anyone in the state growing a watermelon larger than a hardball this summer. Besides wreaking economic holocaust, the erotic car wash would violate the local character-building ethics that holds that winters should be hard, the ground should be rocky, and washing one’s car should not be fun.

Most of us agree. We are, after all, Vermonters. We don’t want to go around having fun and hardening our arteries like those crazy Quebecois. Still, the car is a little dirty, and it’s only a couple of hours drive to Granby. Maybe that ban on erotic car washes has not yet gone into effect.

There’s no accounting for what some people consider erotic

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