Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our Next Car.

Someday soon, maybe not tomorrow or the day after or next week or next month, but someday soon, we're going to buy a new car. There was a time, in fact not very long ago, that I really didn't pay attention to cars. Cars held little to no interest for me. The only time I took notice of cars was when something odd appeared on the car horizon. Like the Smart Car. I began mentally playing the old 'slug your sister in the arm everytime you see a VW Bug' game in my head whenever I spotted a 'Smart Car.' Maybe you didn't play that game, but in my family it was considered the height of sophisticated travel enjoyment. It was the contract bridge of the Morts family. We were a simple people. My family played that game well into our adult lives. Even after I moved to New York City I would slug cab drivers when I saw one. They were always surprised, especially the foreign drivers, and occasionally asked me to get out of the cab.

Anyway, I never paid much attention to cars. I think it had something to do with the fact that my older brother and my dad seemed to never talk about anything else. They were obsessed with engines and fenders and tires and motor fluid and oil filters and transmissions and cubic inches and viscosity (whatever that meant). They were both amateur mechanics (my father worked in a NAPA auto parts store when we were all kids and my brother managed a tire store when he became an adult). So cars played a big part of their lives and, consequently, they bored the bejesus out of me.

This is all changing now that I live in Los Angeles. This is a car culture and there's simply no way of getting around that.

Angie and I talk about our next car purchase a lot. Just yesterday she remarked that she was seeing a lot of Bentleys on the road lately. There was a time I wouldn't know a Bentley from an AMC Gremlin. Nor did I care.

Yesterday we got a notice from our bank informing us we were 'pre-approved for a car loan up to $30,000.' I was so intrigued I actually went on-line to check out some cars that we could buy for less than $30,000.

When I was a kid my favorite car was a 1973 Buick something-or-other. I liked it because it had bat wings on it like the bat car.

Later I liked the Jaguar because a friend of mine's parents had one and I rode in it once and it seemed like a perfect place to spend time. It had seats that warmed your butt and a powerful engine that made a cool sound when you accelerated. Plus it had that hood ornament that seemed really imposing, too.

I also always wanted a jeep. I loved the idea of having a jeep. This is because a high school buddy of mine had one and we often went '4-wheeling' at Hazelrigg's Claypit back in Fulton, Missouri where I was born and lowered. Now, '4-wheeling' was a term used to describe driving a jeep over trecherous landscapes. And Hazelrigg's Claypit was a place just outside of town that was the perfect place to do this. We even busted a few 'oil pans' doing this and then we'd have to race back to town before the oil all drained out. Or something like that. I really never knew why we had to race back to town, but I liked telling people we 'lost the oil pan so we had to drive back to town at 80mph to save our lives.' They were usually impressed.

So today, after much consideration and endless conversation, Angie and I have decided we want a Ford Flex. It's a hybrid, so that's a good thing. Again, I have no idea what that means, but it seems like a responsible thing to want. If we have two cars we also want a Prius, which is good because it runs on ketchup. Oh, I don't know what it runs on, but it gets nearly 400 miles to the gallon, so we want that, too.

But we want those cars only if we're living like normal people. A few weeks ago when I played one ticket for the lottery of 209 million dollars after taxes and I was spending whole days fantasizing about the winnings, I was considering our next purchase. Part of that irrational fantazizing included new cars. One, I decided, would be a new Mercedes SUV - the kind that looks like a matchbox car, or the SUV that was featured in, brace yourself for an incredibly obscure reference here, the TV show DAKTARI - and the other would be a brand new, four-door, convertable Cadillac for Angie. This is because that's what Angie wanted. I used to live in Chicago and any Cadillac was considered 'ghetto.' But that's not the case in Los Angeles, apparently. So she wanted a Cadillac. "A very underrated car," she would say. Okay. Whatever.

All my life I have identified cars by their color rather than their brand name. So I told Angie I wanted a 'forest green' car. "What kind?" she asked. "Oh, I don't really care, but I like the forest green kind." She decided if we went to the car lot to get a car it would probably be best if I didn't say anything.

At the moment we have a perfectly good, nice running, utilitarian type car. It's a Saturn station wagon. It's been very good to us, although it was built in the 1920's or something. We bought it straight out with cash. Before we had a huge red truck roughly the size of a Soviet Abrams tank used to defend Stalingrad. It got one quarter of a gallon of gas every mile. We would drive to the store and have to fill it up again. It had an impossibly huge gas tank and cost about $4,000 to fill up. But we liked it and were comforted in the fact that if we ever needed to pull a house around behind it we could.

Angie has named our Saturn 'Envy,' because she thinks it is the envy of all who see it. She claims that if it's very dark out and one closes one eye and squints it could easily be mistaken for a Mercedes Benz station wagon.

Anyway. I'm looking at cars nowadays with a much more discerning eye. I chuckle at the idea of only wanting a 'forest green' car. I'm much more sophisticated now. These days I want a forest green car with those hubcaps that look like they're spinning the wrong way while you're driving. If I had a car like that I'd be so very happy.

See you tomorrow.

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