Singin' the New Car Blues (Grays, Actually)
Right now, I'm suffering new car irritability. Because, as the saying I just made up goes, a new car is like a second spouse: the equipment's basically the same but arranged differently.
That's why I'm irritable: I can't find anything. I can't find the fan, the brights, the door locks. I can find the turn signal, but it sings a different song. The water-bottle holder is a couple inches further back and the darn thing doesn't have running lights.
Otherwise, it's an OK little car.
I'm not a car person. Some people treat their cars like sculpture, furniture, sports equipment. My car gets me there and brings me home. It must provide good gas mileage , not drain my bank account and park easily. Color is my only particularity. My car will not be white or red or any color that attracts attention.
Did you know yellow and other unusual colors are ticketed more that neutrals?
Hey, Bubba! Letz go git that yallow car!
By the same token, I'll bet they aren't stolen as often.
Normal people get excited about buying a new car. They even like the smell. I just want to get it over with. Perhaps this disinterest results from deprivation: I never owned a car until my third child entered pre-school. I loved that first car because it represented freedom. Freedom to shop. Freedom to visit. Freedom from servitude to other mothers on rainy days.
I can hardly remember its make or color. Transportation was all the mattered.
My only semi-glamorous car was a 1972 Olds Cutlass khaki-colored convertible with white top and white leather seats. Man, those were cool wheels. I stuffed it with kids and dogs and sped off to Dairy Queen.
"Mom, save that car for me," my 9-year-old son said.
I did. He got his drivers' license in the ragtop. Then he wrecked it. Before the tow truck removed the mangled mess he painted it with exclamations of love.
After that, it was one practical Toyota, then Subaru, after another - always a wagon or hatchback. I would rather plow through the snow that dazzle at the drive-in.
My last Subaru was purchased under duress, in about 10 minutes. I walked into the showroom, asked for a basic Impreza that wasn't red or white. "OK, little lady," the salivating salesman said. "We've got a gold one."
I never saw an uglier car - a cross between a mushroom and a turtle.
"I'll take it."
I don't need all-wheel drive and snow tires and winter wipers any more. So I went online looking for a budget subcompact with great gas mileage.
"I'm easy to please, but I'm a tough cookie when it comes to the deal," I told the startled-but-extremely-pleasant salesman at the dealership. (Names are withheld to protect us all.)
He didn't get the tough cookie part. He does now.
My new car is a dark gray hatchback with a black interior. It's cute in an irritable sort of way. I'll lose it soon in a parking lot because the keyless remote doesn't beep.
I hunger for that ugly Subaru's beep. I hunger for its unreadable clock and impossible-to-keep-clean vanilla fabric upholstery and sluggish AC.
But it was only a car. Transportation. It was not an ego trip and certainly not a trophy.
But, then again, maybe cars do speak: Plain, practical, all-weather, economical, no-frills, small.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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