DRIVEL: Opinions and Review
was sad cuz I had no Jag until I met a woman with no piano."
Cars and Blenders:
Motors as Lifestyle Statements©2004
sweet young thing asked me if that was my car he could see parked
just outside his office window. A smallish, newish convertible.
He seemed quite sure it was mine and was just letting me know
he’d aced this cuz he said, “I was sure that was
your car.” He even seemed to think I might be wrong--or
at least playing him and pretending he was wrong. Then
he wanted to know what kind of car I did have.
thinking on this tender exchange. To wit:
he ask me what kind of toaster I operate? Microwave? Blowdryer?
Iron? Ain’t a car just another appliance? Do we
really know each other by our appliances?
OK, why not?
go ahead. Tell me exactly what you know about a girl in a
beta-fish blue, ‘94 Ford Taurus with six totally useful seatbelts
for half the grade-eight girls’ soccer team and a cavernous
trunk for all their backpacks and 32 rolls of t.p from
Costco. Relevant fact: It gobbles gas fast enough that
I really should get points for approaching the studly-adventurous
quotient of an SUV appliance owner.
does my car say about me so far? Anyone have a dreamin clue?
What about the colour?—that would be Tropicana-showgirl-eyeshadow
blue. Any thoughts on that? What about the design engineering?—that
would be classic Barge-mobile™, all the way.
now you’re thinking—possibly even kindly—“Well,
of course not,hon. We all know this kind of car has no significance,
beyond proving that you have, um, no choice except to drive it.”
Ah, well that's
predictable enough. This whole screed is just a clever little
rationale, hmm?—that proves I'm defensive about my
inadequate Lifestyle Statement. Oh, I am so busted. Right.
So don't stop there, plod on...
say I could suddenly take appliances very, very seriously and wanted
a Relationship with one. Poof!—Barge-arse™ Bluemobile
would morph into one of these three: 1) A ‘56
robin’s-egg-blue Chevy sedan, original paint. 2) A
yellow ‘55 T-bird convertible. 3) A
navy ‘39 Plymouth with a back seat like a parlour sofa.
All of which I’ve driven and adored. And would grinnily
enjoy owning and would polish with the vapour of my own breath,
buffed with my own shimmying bodice.
Then these appliances would say something about
me, right? Like what? That I like old cars. Which
means what? That I like old cars, I think. Beyond that,
I’m not sure. That I like shifting gears? Ok, true.
Which means what? That I'm a mechanically-studly girl.
Oh ya? Running a sewing machine takes way more skill,
actually. So does playing the piano—and I spent
fifteen years learning how to do that and only a coupla months learning
how to drive.
So now what?
Maybe I have passions that are more delicious than making
a part-time job of chasing down one of these beautiful vintage appliances:
like chasing down a baby grand piano, something infinitely
more expressive than anything on wheels—to me. While
chasing down the grand, I drive the Defaultmobile that expresses
an involuntary Lifestyle Statement that garbles the intuition of
sweet young things eager to show me they got my numbah.
what my car truly, actually says, really honesttogodly:
After living in the USofA for a buncha years, a sphinctoid Canuckian
customs wonk convinced me I’d have my fingernails pulled out
by Anne Murray if I drove my fine
quality, late model Japanese whatever back into my home
and native land. It didn't have French instructions on how
to install the child carseat anchor. And its headlights didn't
come on at noon. So I came here without my Lifestyle Statement
appliance and cruised around in a 20 tonne, 40 foot [13 meter] streetcar.
Superstudly. Even harder to park than a Hummer™
and seats way more people way higher up in the air with way more
room for adventurous lifestyle accessories. Bah to the six-CD
changer, this thing had room for a string quartet. With instrument
cases and ironing boards for each person's tux.
It gets more exciting.
parting from string quartet-mobile, I finally called my friend’s
daughter’s fiancé’s car dealership and said,
“Please find me a car.” With wheels,
engine, four doors, buncha seatbelts, no more than five years old. Those
were the specs. Phone rang: “Got a car for
you.” Listened to all the stats, and it was good.
Asked the colour, just as an afterthought. “Navy”,
said the man on the phone.
that’s a good answer for a heterosexual. Departing from
primaries is plucky. I pictured navy as a deep, distinguished
kinda colour—a droll benefit, seeing as I didn't give a dang.
Me, in a diplomat-coloured car? Sure, why not?!
Dealership was a couple hundred miles away, so I agreed to
the deal. Wrote a check. Done. It all took about
10 minutes, which was what I had to allocate to appliances
on that day in that year.
"The Mercedes handles beautifully, but I miss the rapport I
had with my Chevy."
arrived in town. Went to pick up car. Car was royal,
iridescent blue. I’m more of a warm-spectrum girl, from
butter to terracotta. Nothing can get you to trip over your
Lifestyle Statement faster than an accidental colour.
not bonding with this car for years, I truly enjoy it. I have
no emotional connection with it. It’s as arbitrary as
a vehicle can be. It came from behind door number 2.
It’s been dinged, bonked, scraped and I don’t even cuss
any more. It occupies the right amount of mental real estate:
Less than any. It allows people to deduce exactly nothing
Fact is, the
car does everything cars should do. It reaches exactly from
departure to arrival, in any direction whatsoever. Am I supposed
to be irritated by something here? Feeling that I’m
lacking something I deserve? Feeling misrepresented?
Y'all who were
feeling sorry for me back there in paragraph eight—you still
feeling polite and charitable? Or do you think it's almost
creepy that some folks have such over-developed pleasure
skills that they can grin fetchingly over owning substandard
stuff that would make you pout and hang your head unattractively?
I need a sticker that says “Arbitrary car”?
“Car does not reflect opinions of management”?
“My other appliances are not blue”?
I know my car-significance
story was not very useful, so let me spin a Lifestyle Statement
in traditional fashion. Here’s what my big honkin
blue appliance says about me:
It says I'm a get-me-there, buckle-all-the-kids-in, amusingly iconoclastic
kinda girl who drives a dinosaur while sighing over grand pianos.
I’m 5’2” and look like I’m 12 (or
92) driving this boat. So I'm OK looking whimsical.
I can park it in places only two feet longer than the car.
So I'm well-coordinated; I am the belly-dancer and the
neuro-surgeon of parallel parking.
drive over curbs with those big fat tires. Medians, too.
So I'm pragmatic and determined.
Kids can get tar on the upholstery by accident and I don’t
break a nail tearing my hair out.
So I have perspective.
car serves me; I do not serve it.
So I value my thoughts.
I can license and insure it and have the price of museums and galleries
and concert tix left over.
So I'm romantic.
My kids can bring three friends home for spontaneous sleepovers.
So I'm an open-armed mom.
And all this, I suspect, boils down to "not all that self-conscious."
spin? One hot day in the summer, a client had parked next
to me in her fully loaded whatever. She asked if we could
sit in my car for a few minutes and yak. I said, “Oh,
you’d probably be happier in your car than my singlemom-mobile.”
thought it was because there was kid-schmutz, something sticky she’d
end up sitting in. Nope. I just didn’t know how
she'd cope with no sunroof, no A/C. Oh ya, there’s no air
conditioning. And mentioning it this late shows exactly how
important it is. When there was, I didn't use it. I
grew up in a place so brutally cold that I’ll be thrilled
to be glowing and dewy for the rest of my life.
(Air conditioning in Canada really is a bit on an affectation, n'est-ce
pas? What the hell are we trying to say here?—That
after eight months of zippers and fleece, we really find summer
tedious and annoying? Where I grew up, summer came on a Tuesday.)
also lived in the south, which makes summers in the north not much
to get exercised about, being that even a hot day ain’t that
hot, and it ain’t hot all night long, and the whole dang summer
ain’t even that long. Besides, heat and humidity are
great for the skin. Open windows are great for
the heart. A sense of velocity is great for the mind.
Staring naked-faced and windy-haired at other drivers is great
for the ego. Why do we love motorcycles? Motorcycles
got no A/C! Wind, baby! I can get that bugs-in-my-teeth
wind rush without having helmet-hair and I never
have to decelerate by grinding down my kneecaps on the asphalt.
trust I've made this as boring for you as it is for me. Although
you started out thinking you actually be curious, I know you did.
“What does he drive?”—Ever heard that
question? Ever found it oh so ordinary and justified? "Is
her toaster a two-slice or four-slice?"—Could you
get used to that question, too? Please write me about your
appliances and how they express your lifestyle.
in: Electric toothbrushes, washing machines,
lawn mowers, string trimmers, clothes dryers, and electric sweater
defuzzers. I want all the usual stuff: Make, model,
colour, design considerations, power specs, number of gears, fuel
consumption, top speed, performances issues. And if you
really care about my lifestyle statement, you
can ask what kind of piano I drive. That, you can hang a deduction
on. I have two.
Ya, we're a
two piano family and I feel all kindly and charitable to those zero-piano
folks. Or folks whose pianos are furniture and not instruments.
That would be a K-car versus a Jag. There are folks with K-car pianos
who don't pout and hang their heads—and pin a rose on them. If
they can stand playing junk, I can stand driving it.
from the road and keyboard,
The bluesmobile passed from my care and abuse in March 2007
at the age of 13 yrs, being about 13 in dog years or 91 in people
years. It went to some enterprise that provides cars for demolition
scenes in film shoots around Toronto. A big fat glamorous
noisy death! Thanks for the seven years, old tank.
bluesmobile is red. Small. Efficient. Never needs towing. Nothing
to sing about. Redmobile don't got no sad stories, yet....
Epilogue, 2010: Red bluesmobile now has stories. Got hit by various stuff, got scratched/gouged by eediots in parking lots. Misses a coupla former drivers. Needs new speakers. The a/c works. Never use it.
Epilogue 2011: Redmobile totalled. Replaced in two days with clone. I will be buried in a red Matrix, apparently.
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