August 1, 2009

Caught Up In The Madness Of CARS

I know I should be working on that first France post, but we did something yesterday that I have to tell you about because it's 5:30 am and I can't sleep until I get it off my chest. We bought a new car. Not "new to us" like we usually do. New, new. As in 2010. I think we're insane. Yes, we just took a trip to France. Yes, my husband is now unemployed (and, hours earlier had turned down a nice long job on Gulliver's Travels starring Jack Black). And yes, I love, love, loved my old car.

We call her Roxy. She's been with us since before Jerry was born. Roxy is a 1990 Volvo 760 Turbo Wagon with over 216,000 miles, a broken gas gage, air-conditioning that works moderately well at the best of times and not at all at the worst (and that's just since we had it fixed a few weeks ago), a headliner that falls on our heads, an antenna that refuses to go up, a cassette player (no CD) that no longer works, and other assorted "character"istics. She also features prominently in a host of cherished memories, starting with bringing Jerry home on the day he was born. I didn't always love Roxy though.

When we found out I was pregnant (an earth-shattering surprise for which I was totally unprepared) we figured another car was in order. At the time our cars were both two-door: a crappy little Hyundai and an Acura Integra. (Funny story: two weeks after Jerry was born we paid off the last $2000 on the Integra loan and that very night it was stolen from right in front of our house. Can you believe that!?) Anyway, we were going to get rid of the Hyundai, keep the Integra for Warren (or so we thought) and get me a new, bigger car. Warren and I both agreed on the bigger car part. But what shape that car would take was a huge bone of contention between us--huge. It was only matched later (surpassed, actually) by our disagreement over whether Jerry should be circumcised or not--I was against, he was for.

What was the problem? Warren wanted a family car. And not just any family car. He wanted the ultimate soccer mom mobile--a Volvo station wagon. I was 26 or 27 at the time. I knew I was having a baby. I knew this event would make me into a, you know, m-m-mother (though I think I didn't fully comprehend the reality of that fact until I started having contractions nine months later). But child birth and child care was about far as I was willing to go in the motherhood department. There was no way in hell I was going to be seen driving a station wagon. What did I want to drive? A 1967 convertible Ford Falcon, of course. It was the perfect anti-mom mobile. It would say, "Sure, I have a kid but I haven't lost my cool!" Warren wouldn't even consider it. He was infuriatingly unreasonable! But he won. (I won the circumcision war, though.)

That's how Roxy came into our lives. She was Warren's car for a long time, but eventually I started driving her and our relationship developed from there. It was kind of like an arranged marriage--the love came later. And now, after nearly 15 years of devoted service, I'm sending Roxy to her death. That's right. We're taking advantage of the "Cash for Clunkers" program, which means she'll be crushed, shredded, put out of commission, euthanized, obliterated, smashed to smithereens...

I feel so guilty. And I can't bear to think of what our mechanic will say. It's not so much what he'll say as the look on his face. I can see it now. He'll look at me, take a deep breath, shake his head and walk away. He won't even want to talk to me anymore. Or maybe he'll shake his head and say "Colleen, the Prius is like a tin can compared to the Volvo. It's not safe." And I'll respond by putting my fingers in my ears and saying "La la la la la la la." Because, yes, we bought a Prius. I'm going from a tank to a tin can and I prefer not to think about that thank you very much.

I can't believe it. I can't believe we actually bought it. It's new! And all futuristic! The Volvo didn't have keyless entry--the Prius doesn't even have a key!

We had been thinking of getting a Prius for a while, but we always thought it would be Warren's car. He was the one that wanted a Prius. I really only wanted Roxy. But yesterday afternoon, after my parents called to tell us the House had approved another 2 billion for the CARS program (they hate poor Roxy), I started thinking about keeping the Prius for myself. I couldn't think of another car that I'd be willing to replace Roxy with. And I knew I'd want to take the Prius on long trips and if it were Warren's car he'd be all uptight about the car getting dirty and covered in dog hair. So it seemed like the best idea to just, you know, keep it for myself. And, by the way, you know how I wanted a convertible before Jerry was born? Guess who ended up with a convertible? Warren. Granted, he only had it for a year, but he did drive a Saab convertible after making such a big stink about me driving one all those years ago. (He says I always bring that up, but I don't.) That's not why I'm keeping the Prius for myself. I'm just saying...

Anyway, I'm still in shock. I actually tried to talk the sales guy into letting us take Roxy home last night (under the pretense of wanting to clean our stuff out of the car) so we could have one last night together, but apparently once you commit your car to death you're not allowed to drive it any longer. So we had to clear her out and leave her there. And now there's a spanking new Prius in our driveway and I'm still trying to figure out how it got there. I blame the jet lag. And my parents. (Why not?)

It was very fiscally irresponsible of us (we haven't had car payments in years!) but it's the right thing to do, environmentally speaking, so maybe we could say the two things balance each other out. Right? Please say yes.

Anyway, it's done. I no longer drive a "clunker."

R.I.P., Roxy. We'll miss you.

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