What’s that Burning Flesh Smell? Oh, right. I’ve Been Branded: PART ONE

Ok, Volvo. You win.

It all started with my hatred for the Prius. I had been excited to trade in our inherited Subaru outback, not only to to enjoy the obvious advantages of driving a hybrid (the internal advantage being the erroneous, yet powerful relief of privilege guilt & the external is the happiness to save the planet one gas tank at a time, plus…cha-ching!), but also to drive our own vehicle of choice, and not the one T’s very generous and kind parents passed on. I guess we’re never too old or too distantly related to have to work out our big-kid needs.

Anyway, the external advantages manifest immediately. Saving money is fun. But then, very soon, at 42 years old, I experienced my very first Big Reaction to a car, either positive or negative. Consciously, at least.

I read that blog readers like lists, so here we go:

Seven Reasons I Hate the Prius

  1. It’s ugly.
  2. It beeps when you back up (flash to: backing out in a crowded grocery store parking lot, kid in back, making kid sounds, both of us hungry, oblivious peds milling about: BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP).
  3. I feel like I am driving a tin can. To say it another way, I feel like there is a very thin piece of metal beneath my feet separating me from the need to “drive” the car like Fred Flintstone.¬† In other words, it’s like a tin-covered engine. Flimsy.
  4. The whole push the button way of starting and stopping the car (as opposed to turning a key in the ignition) has resulted in two near-fatalities, both of which involved the driver (once me, the other T) thinking he or she had turned off the car, but….oh my god oh my god holy shiiiiit!!!!!!!!! I almost hit the babysitter. T almost ran over our daughter’s best friend and her dad.
  5. The same thing is true for going forward and going in reverse: Countless times, I moved the little thingie, thinking I was going in to Drive, only to jolt into reverse, BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP (It is important to note: I am a good driver. Really.).
  6. It skids when going around little turns at 40 MPH. Loser!
  7. I feel like I am hurting it by asking it to haul up our hill, and it won’t bust a move over our plow-made snowbanks, which means I am out with a a shovel, digging out the car. I don’t think so, Prius.

So. In an uncharacteristically unilateral decision about a big household expenditure, I made it clear that I would not be driving the Prius for another winter. We hadn’t gotten too far in thinking about what I would drive, but we both love the diesel Audi A3, though it is out of our price range. By a lot. We have a 2006 Toyota Scion xa with 187,000 miles that T has driven the heck out of and with real love, I might add. Alas, T was willing to forsake his old faithful for the Prius, which he didn’t mind driving. And the Scion wouldn’t work for me because it’s not exactly a kid-and-all-her-friends-friendly car. So we would turn it in for a different car.

I assumed I would get a used Subaru for the Scion, or some other lame thing. The whole transaction was sort of blank to me. I couldn’t conjure up any images or excitement, which didn’t surprise me in the least. I mean, we’re talking cars here. I hate cars. Right?

For a little backstory into me and cars, take a look at this essay about my dad and his Jag. The gist is that my dad LOVED cars, and since my feelings about him were ambivalent at best, horrified at worst, cars, to me, have always been a bit…abstract, I guess you could say. Uninteresting. When I was a teen living in Michigan, I got into a little fender-bender and my mom’s insurance premium was going to go up, so I just gave up my license. I have always preferred to walk and/or use public transportation, which, to a Michigan teen, means waiting for slow-ass public busses in the freezing cold, high off my rocker. I loved it!

And when I went to Ohio for college, there was no place really to go except the Village Thrift, the best thrift store ever, and if my friends didn’t want to drive, I was just as happy to stay in the dorm and smoke.

And when I moved to NYC, I was in heaven. I have to go back to the city occasionally, in the summer, for my dose of subway stink and stare. Such a truly human experience. I didn’t even have a license until T and I were planning a trip to Hawaii and he was too young to rent a car.

Now I live in upstate New York with a kid. I am in the car all the time. It’s the one thing I really don’t like about living up here. I see all these people driving sexy cars like vintage Mercedes, or funky old Saabs and I think, how do you justify yourself? You must be rich. Or very impractical. Willing to go into debt. Not to mention willing to flagrantly ignore the environmental implications of driving such an inefficient car. Shame on you!

And then I heard a voice. It said, Get a Volvo.

Do it.

(to be continued….)