Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Big Boy Car!

Last week, the air conditioning on my sad little 10-year-old Neon finally gave me and my wallet one too many room-temperature middle fingers. And as I started dreading contemplating the whole car-buying (and -financing) process for the first time in a decade, I decided that at 37 years (and five months) old, I deserved a car with:
• reliability
• a warranty
• bells and whistles beyond intermittent air conditioning and a sun visor with a mirror
• that all-important new-car smell
• and maybe, finally, a little bit of freakin’ sex appeal (befitting a man of my age and deportment, of course)

Until Saturday, when I once again rejoined the ranks of the Car Loan Generation, I’d held steadfastly to the belief that a car was nothing more than a simple mode of transportation with perhaps a modest CD player to help mask the pain and suffering brought on by lumpy seats and leaky window gaskets that whistle on the highway.

But I have seen the (bi-directional ceiling) light and I have drunk the Kool-Aid (which had been stored in one of many convenient, adjustable, spill-proof cup holders) and I am now the proud owner of a rolling symphony of bells and whistles:
Image hosted by

You’ll notice that I did hold on to my beliefs that a car shouldn’t call attention to itself (e.g., be brightly colored or festooned with garish fancy decoration) or say “Come steal me!” (e.g., be a Jag or a Beemer or whatever it is the rich kids are driving these days). I much prefer my muted silver exterior and unobtrusive gray upholstery, thank you. But while I was pushing myself through other boundaries and doing something so completely out of character, I also decided to go all the way and buy my ride (RIDE! JUST LIKE THE KIDS SAY!) brand-spanking-new right off the lot. Which—as we all know—meant instant depreciation the moment it left the dealer. But it also gave me the chance to say I own a car with 30 miles on it, I got a VERY fair trade-in plus $2,500 in incentives, and I had the expert, aggressive, no-nonsense car-buying help of my sister and my ex-boyfriend to guide me through the process.

I also got a little bit of attitude from the dealer’s finance guy, who kept whining about how he wanted to get home to fire up the grill for some party he didn’t invite us to and who got upset when my posse wouldn’t let him upsell me on any insurance packages or extended warranties … and I’m sorry, but if you insist on blow-drying your hair as though you were auditioning for Dynasty: The Musical and wearing pleated Dockers and shapeless, off-brand polo shirts in public, YOU DON’T DESERVE TO GO TO YOUR PARTY.

(Besides, you’ll get no pity from Cap’n 60 Hour Workweek when you complain that you have to stay late a whole hour to do your freakin’ job—and get extra pay for it. Whiner.)

Anyway, how much do I love my new car? Let me enumerate the ways:
• The dashboard makes it look I’m driving a disco. There are lights and gauges and switches and things that wiggle seductively and that probably cook up endless batches of Kitchen Fresh Chicken for me if I just figure out which button to push—and there’s even a tachometer to show me how it’s all affecting my RPMs.
• I now have power everything—right at my fingertips. No more hand-cranking the windows or reaching clear across the car to unlock the door for people as though I were driving in the freakin’ Middle Ages.
• I even have one of these thingies, which I’ve always looked at as vulgar and showy. But now that I have one I have no choice but to think haughty thoughts and make a big show of flashing my lights and unlocking my doors from a distance. I am drunk … with … social … power!
• And who knew I could live so long without Tom Cruise control? Now, with just a push of a button, I can avoid the debilitating ankle strain that comes with using the gas pedal like common people do AND I can push Hollywood’s batshit-crazies out of the limelight and deeper into the delusion that everyone thinks they breed.
• There are no pictures to pilfer from the Web site, but I also have height-adjustable seats, a sun/moon roof that doesn’t compromise my headroom, and a leather-wrapped stick shift controlling a sporty automatic transmission that delivers the silky smoothness of a stripper’s chest and the suave insouciance of a film noir lothario.
• And get a load of my deployed air bags! (That’s not a metaphor for anything.)
Image hosted by
This promotional photo makes them look so soft and cozy, it almost makes you want to get in a snuggly little accident. But I think I’ll hold off on realizing that dream a little longer—at least until my mileage reaches the triple digits.

No comments: