DRIVEL: Opinions and Review

copywriter toronto

"I was sad cuz I had no Jag until I met a woman with no piano."

Cars and Blenders:
Motors as Lifestyle Statements©2004

Some 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.

Still thinking on this tender exchange. To wit:

Why didn’t 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?

Yeah sure, OK, why not?

So 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.

What 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.

Anything significant yet?

By 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... 

Let’s 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.

Here’s 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.
But wait--
It gets more exciting.

Tearfully 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. 

Now 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."

Car 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.

After 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 about me.

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?

Do 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. 
I can 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.
This 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."  

More 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.”

She 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.)

I 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.  Helluva deal!

Enough about appliances.

I 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.

I’m interested 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.

Reporting from the road and keyboard,


EPILOGUE:  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.

New 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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If you have
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