So. I’ve been shopping for a new car. It’s always fun to test drive cars. You get to push all the shiny buttons that light up when the car turns on, and think about how good you would look driving around town in it with its perfect paint job and crystal clear windows, and wonder how long the new car smell would linger before you’d have to have new car scented air freshener pumped back in at the car wash.
If you’re reading this and don’t understand the above tenets of new car buying, then you are obviously a man. Sure fuel efficiency and quality and safety ratings are important too, but above all else, it still must be pretty!
After the test drive, the salesperson tells you what your monthly payments are likely to be. He tells you this information with a straight face like he’s making you some incredible deal and you’re robbing him blind and he’ll have to sustain himself and his family on Ramen noodles for the next two months. You, on the other side of desk, want to strongly consider running out the door and getting a Sanford and Son style junker, or a monthly bus pass and give up on cars altogether. Well, maybe not quite, but the fact that you could feed an entire village in a remote developing nation for a year on what you’d pay per month is enough to give you pause. Vanity is a bitch though, and she wants a shiny new car with lots of doodads and keyless entry — because it’s just too hard anymore to push a button to unlock a door! Someone else is going to have to feed the starving masses!!
The past two cars I’ve had have both been appropriate family cars. I purchased or leased them with the notion that if my husband and I found ourselves miraculously pregnant, or matched with a birthmother, these cars would have been able to travel like Rommel’s Army across Africa, fortified with all the necessary baby accouterments: car seats, strollers, pack ‘n’ plays, swing sets, highchairs, and enough diapers and baby wipes to overflow a landfill. First was a Toyota Highlander–a nice mid-sized SUV. It was also a hybrid, so I could look down my environmentally friendly nose at all those other drivers in their Goliath-sized, gas-guzzling SUVs with an expression that suggested, “Al Gore and I care about this planet so much more than you do…obviously!” Then I got a VW Passat CC. It was a sporty little ride, but still a family-friendly sedan with lots of useable trunk space. Both of these cars have come and gone with no need for diapers or strollers. Sad, but true. And now I’m FORTY, and maybe having a mid-life crisis
(theMagic 8-Ball told me to check back later). I want a car that says, I’m still fun and sassy, but also a responsible adult who cares about safety features and heated leather seating!
I realize I’ve come a long way since the old days in Calvert County, Southern Maryland, when I would take my mother’s red Jaguar XJ6 out for a spin without her permission…oh yeah, and without a license. I still contend that my mother is partially to blame for leaving her car keys IN THE IGNITION!! And not just one time, by accident. I mean, as a regular practice. My teen years were led with reckless abandon and a complete and total disregard for my personal and the public’s safety, and the State’s requirements for licensure and operation of a motorized vehicle. Seriously. I started driving around the neighborhood when I was 13. My hand-eye-foot coordination was Da Bomb! By 15, I’d convinced myself that I was ready for the open roads…and off I went galavanting around the Calvert County roadways like I was invincible. I’d pick up friends and go joy riding, stopping in to say hi to other friends at their after school/weekend jobs as a way to show off what a badass I was. Clearly, I had some fat girl self-esteem issues back then. All the while, I was racking up the miles never thinking I’d ever get caught. And never acknowledging the small detail that my mom had a pretty distinct and noticeable car. Then it happened…
A few days after one of my weekend jaunts around the county, my mother said to me, “Is there anything you feel like you need to tell me????” The look on her face suggested that she was about to nail my ass to a tree and it really didn’t matter if I confessed to anything or not, because I was guilty and she, Judge-Jury-and-Executioner, was already working out what kind of pain and suffering she could inflict on me without having the Department of Social Services getting involved. I fluttered my eyelashes, mustered up all my angelic innocence, looked at her dumbfounded with a slight tilt of my sweet head and said…
She proceed to announce that a family friend saw her car parked in front of a store and saw me inside hanging out with friends. The family friend hadn’t realized that I’d turned 16 already (because I hadn’t), and was shocked that my mom would let me drive her fancy car around town on my own (because she didn’t). As my mother was throwing all this information at me, my mind was working like the Grinch to think up a lie and think it up quick. I needed to find a way to soothe this adult Cindy Lou Who and get her back into her bed and make off with the goods–with no one the wiser!
And then the proverbial light bulb shined its brilliant shine and without any hesitation, I said, “Mom…that wasn’t YOUR car.” I continued to regale her with a story that had an understudy, two acts, and an intermission. It was all delivered with a tone that really said…
“Foolish, foolish woman–you are no match for my cunning. I want you to focus on the calm sound and cadence of my voice. You are getting sleepy. Very, very sleepy. Focus on my voice. Sleeeeeeepppppyyyyy. In a moment I will snap my fingers and you will awake from this totally rested and relaxed, having no recollection of this conversation. Your daughter is a perfect child. She never disobeys you. Focuuuuus…sleeeeeepy. She deserves some new clothes from The Limited. Focus….sleepy. Focus on my voice. Annnnd…
Ferris Bueller could have learned a thing or two about lying to his parents from me! Just sayin’.
I walked away and slipped down the hall to my bedroom and once out of sight of my mother, who I’m sure stood catatonic in the kitchen for at least 5 minutes trying to figure out what had just happened, I raised my hands in triumph like Rocky after taking down the Champ. “YO, ADRIAN! I DID IT!!!”
I’m pretty sure I’m going to go ahead and get a Volvo convertible. It’s smart and sassy, but still safe and secure. And I’ll drive around with the top down not caring who sees me. If Murphy’s Law applies now that I’m buying a 2-door convertible with limited trunk space and we end up getting matched and growing our family, don’t worry. I won’t leave the keys in the ignition!