A few weeks ago, I traded in the car I’ve owned for the past ten years for a minivan. Well, I didn’t so much “trade in” my car as I “donated it to charity because apparently it’s illegal to purposely set your car on fire in an attempt to give it a viking funeral.” Thanks, Obama.
As is often the case when a long-term relationship ends, my car and I were not on good terms. It was no secret to anyone that I hated my car. Some people say you shouldn’t speak badly about your car because it may jinx you, but in our family, it’s a daily ritual. Every morning, when I loaded up the girls for school, we’d recite the Daily Litany of O God, I Hate This Piece of Shit:
Me: “Oh GODDAMMIT I hate this car!”
Kids: “I hate your car too, Mom.”
Me: [obscene muttering about something wrong with the car]
Kids: “When are you going to get a new car, Mom?”
Me: “Soon, girls. Very, very soon.”
One day, after driving my car home engulfed in a blue cloud of smoke like the automotive version of Pig Pen, I asked Jesus to take the wheel and drive my car the hell out of my life. Jesus was all, “NO WAY. I wouldn’t be caught resurrected in this car.” But then I prayed super hard, and so he had no choice but to take my car to the junkyard for me with his sacred tow truck. Amen and farewell, you beautiful bitch.
While shopping online for a “new” car, I kept looking at crossovers and other bigger-type cars. I would stare at the pictures of the back seat, superimposing three booster seats into the picture with my brain. Then I imagined three backpacks, four stuffed animals, a bag of half-eaten pretzels, my purse, and the tote bag I take to work which is basically “Purse, Part Two” stuffed into the back seat of a Jeep Grand Cherokee and finally I called Rob over to hold my hand as I asked him, “I need a minivan, don’t I?”
“Yeah, you do.”
This was what my face looked like the first day I drove my new minivan. It’s the face of a person that hasn’t driven a car bigger than a compact since 1998, and is trying to understand how she became a mother of three in her mid-thirties who drives a minivan. I mean, I understand how all those other women in the school parking lot got there. But not me! I’m still renting a shitty apartment on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, taking the city bus to campus and working til midnight at the video store, right?
Plus, I think I felt like driving a minivan was overkill. It felt too luxurious for me. I mean, my mom had two kids, and she managed to tote our asses around town in a regular old car! But I seriously doubt three booster seats would have fit in my mom’s 1986 Ford Escort. Also, minivans seem like they’re made for families with four or more kids. I only had three, which is one too many for a car, but seems like not enough for a minivan.
But despite all that, here’s my picture the next day.
You guys? I fucking love it. I love every damn thing about that car. It’s clean, it’s comfy, and everyone is out of Surrey’s slapping radius. I love how satisfying it feels sliding the door shut after loading up and buckling everyone. I love how snow doesn’t blow into my car from the heat vents when I try to turn on the warm air. Everyone fits. Everyone is happy.
There is one thing I don’t like about owning a minivan. I have developed an acute case of MMS: Mistaken Minivan Syndrome. Just as every single car on the road today is silver, it seems that every single minivan on the road today is dark blue. I know this because I’ve walked up to countless blue minivans and tried to open them. After exhibiting the telltale symptoms of MMS for the fifty-seventh time in three weeks — furrowed brow, muttering, repeated mashing of the unlock button, and looking around the parking lot with a confused look that quickly brightens at the sight of the next blue minivan — Phaedra finally took pity on me and said, “Mom, why don’t you look at the license plate before you try to open your car?”
So now that my seven-year-old has cured me of attempted carjacking, I feel pretty boss driving around town. I even feel…dare I say it? Grown up. Fancy. Slightly bourgeois. And once I figure out how to park this motherfucker? I’ll be the classiest bitch in this Kroger parking lot.
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