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Damn Fine Sentence #25

Dawn Downey
2 min readMay 5


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.



Dawn Downey

Dawn Downey writes essays about her everyday life—introspective stories to lift your spirits and challenge your assumptions.