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Damn Fine Sentence #25

Dawn Downey
2 min readMay 5, 2023


Frequently while I’m reading, a sentence grabs me and forces me to stop. I pay tribute to other authors by sharing their Damn Fine Sentences with you. Then I recount a memory the words bring up for me. It’s about how books connect with your life.

“He wasn’t being nervous, he was being prevented.”
— — — Toni Morrison
— — — Beloved

Kevin’s Car Wash was my playground. I relished letting the conveyor belt pull me through the tunnel’s suds and heat lamps and dryer fans. And then I would emerge into a car fanatic’s fantasy, dozens of free vacuums with super sonic suction, each vacuum station equipped with gadgets for detailing. Even q-tips to clean the vents. Be still, my OCD heart.

But, several months ago, an inexplicable Kevin’s Car Wash phobia took hold. I panicked whenever I tried to go to the car wash. I talked myself through once or twice, “You’re okay, Dawn, you’re okay,” only to sob all the way home.

I needed Kevin. I needed the quality time mindlessly q-tipping the vents.

During session after session, my therapist performed all manner of energy voodoo on the phobia. After an intense Saturday meeting, I swore I was cured.

Sunday, I drove to Kevin’s full of hope but changed my mind, because the line of dirty cars wrapped around the block.

Monday I slowed at the entrance — only two cars in line — but my heart started racing. I drove by.

Tuesday, the closer I got, my breath came fast and heavy.

Wednesday, the conveyor belt gleamed all come-hither in my peripheral vision — as I drove by.

By Thursday, it was easy to cruise past Kevin. It wasn’t my call. Phobia was driving.