Monday, August 16, 2010

I test drove a Nissan Murano last weekend, and loved it. The Murano is kind of a cross between an SUV and a sports car.  That’s just what I’ve spent my whole life trying to be!

Buying a new car often takes me for a ride down memory lane.

My mom was the ultimate station wagon mom.  In fact, she didn’t give up her last station wagon until about two years ago at age 75.  Remember those bench seats?  My clearest memory of driving with mom is her flinging her right arm across the bench whenever we had a sudden stop, which was frequently.  Even though seat belts are standard now, it's still an automatic gesture, though with her shorter and me taller, most the time she just ends up whacking me in the boob!

I don’t remember all of my Dad’s cars, but most of them were practical and penny-wise.  Except for the Fiat.  When I was 10 or so, Dad pulled into the driveway in an electric blue Fiat Spider convertible.  This was the most impulsive action we had ever seen him take.  I probably hadn't heard the term mid-life crisis yet, but even if I had, would never have associated it with my father.  Back then, fathers were invincible. Today, in our house at any rate, teasing Dad is a fierce competition.   

That Fiat was fun.  My mom wasn’t too happy that our second car was a two-seater; but Dad, a lifelong law abider who'd suddenly decided laws didn't apply to mid-life men, promptly sat my brother and me up on the back edge of the convertible roof.  We drove around like that until a policeman flagged him down, and this stranger with the uncanny resemblance to my dad, gave the cop a real run-around. 

When I got to high school, , the mid-life crisis must have passed or at least devolved into resignation. Dad bought a Ford Pinto, which became my primary mode of transportation. With all the fender benders I was in, it’s a miracle that I wasn’t blown to kingdom come. 

My own first car was a big old grey Plymouth Fury.   A real ghetto car. I saved long and hard for that beauty during the summer before my junior year.  And though it took up two parking spaces, it got me around.  After graduating, I had the audacity to talk the boyfriend that I'd  dumped for my future husband, into selling me his Toyota Corolla.  Now that was a cool car.  It had a nickname, but I can’t share it.  It was very red and very fast and I felt very cool in it, especially after two years of piloting the Titanic.

Fast forward  a few years...

After getting married, we lived in NYC, where a car was out of the question.  But when it came time to move to the burbs, with one baby on board and one in belly, we became the proud owners of an old green Volvo station wagon. Phil will never recover from the indignity suffered when driving our cute (read:hot) babysitter back to her dorm, she told him what a cute (read:not hot) little couple we were with our baby and our Volvo station wagon.  

Maybe that's why his own mid-life crisis hit as early as it did. In 1992, Phil bought a used white Mercedes Benz 2-seater convertible from a family friend in bankruptcy. Considering our  three kids under the age of four, it wasn't the most popular decision he'd ever made!  But it gets worse... read on.

Because he worked an unfathomable amount of hours, the job of registering the car fell to me.  So, bracing myself with a diaper bag full of toys, treats & books, and the paperwork he had handed over, I spent a memorable morning at the White Plains DMV.  With baby Kev in the stroller, the two year old holding onto one handle and the three year old to the other, we wound our way around the many stanchions outside the main door.  After two and a half hours we had finally made it inside, only to find another looping line of people corralled between more zig-zagging stanchions.  Optimist that I was, I chirped "almost there" to the kids and busied myself feeding the baby another handful of cheerios. It was just then that my not quite three year-old son suddenly pulled the front of his elastic waisted pants down and exclaimed "Look, my pee-pee is full of doo-doo!"

No kidding.

Can you see my face?  This was its color.

Then his nearly four year-old sister yelled "Let me see!"  The guffaws from the crowd still ring in my ears.  We had just made a day at the DMV more entertaining than a night on Broadway.  When the gentleman in front of us turned and suggested that everyone else  might let us go to the front of the line, I was near tears and protested that they had all been waiting just as long as we had.  Before the words were even out of my mouth, it was like the seas had parted and I was suddenly face to face with the hoop-laden, gum-chewing, talon-wielding, government-issued DMV employee.  She took a cursory glance at the papers I had clutched in my hand (which couldn't move very well as it was attached to the arm holding the offender against my side so he couldn't repeat the display of his fascinating feature to the whole crowd).  It was only a few seconds before she thrust them back at me, and disgustedly said "you need to get these notarized".  

We won't discuss the conversation that ensued with my husband.  

After that, I was never really sure if I was holding a grudge against the car or just had  a hang up about being seen in a Benz.  I've never been a big fan of ostentation, and to me a Benz convertible was just about as ostentatious as you can get.  The first time I deemed to ride along with my hubby for a date night, we saw three people that I knew and ducking is pretty tricky in such a little car.  Then this summer, I had to drive it  (yeah, we still have it ) when he was recovering from surgery... and I thought "hey, I don't look half bad in this baby..."  Maybe I'm just having my mid-life crisis on time. 

1 comment:

  1. This is cute. So much of our lives are entertwined with the cars we drive, don't ya think?
    My Hubs pulled a good one when while I was being the good mom at an all day volleyball tournament, he and the boys purchased a mini cooper. Convertable. Ugh. Now, with 3 kids in high school, that wasn't the smartest move he ever made. We still have it. And every time it has to be moved into storage for the winter (which is long, here in Oregon) I remind him of his folly. Ha
    P.S. You totally rock Benz!