Monday, January 22, 2007

Farewell, sweet youth...

This is my new car.

Notice it is not actually a car, but a minivan.

As minivans go, it's pretty nice. All kinds of buttons and controls, a thumping stereo with about 15 speakers, multi-zone climate control, and more cupholders than a soccer team could use. They've done a lot of work to make you think you're driving a semi-luxury car instead of what it actually is: a bus.

I admit my feelings about minivans are pathological and not rational. I grew up in a large family and we always had minivans, because regular station wagons just weren't big enough. When I reached that all-important age, 16, and got my driver's license, I had to drive the minivan--if I got lucky enough that my mom didn't need it. Is there any car un-cool-er than a minivan? My dad tried to tell me now I could give my friends rides (he preferred my driving to theirs, for some reason), but that was cold comfort. As if I wanted all my friends to see me driving a minivan. Kill me now and get it over with.

So I swore I would never, ever, purposefully and willingly get a minivan. We have kids, but only two. Two kids fit just fine in an ordinary car, even with carseats and all the junk that seems to accrue to kids like white pet hair to a black skirt. Then we got a dog, a big dog, and that made the car a little more crowded, especially when we went on longer drives. (Don't ask why the dog had to go with us instead of staying at a kennel like normal dogs do) Suddenly my nice ordinary car was too small. We need something bigger, my husband said. Something that has space for the kids, maybe a couple of friends, their stuff, and the dog. Something that will hold everything we take on vacation without requiring a day's worth of careful, crafty packing to make everything fit. Something we can haul 4'x8' pieces of wood in.

So we have a minivan. He was the one so excited about it, yet I'm the one who has to drive it. His new car, by the way, is a car. A car with heated leather seats and XM radio. A car that does not practically fly a little flag overhead: Middle-Aged Mom At The Wheel! Our kids love it; one of them actually said, "Boy, I can't wait to go for a long car trip in this!" If a minivan can keep them from trying to kill each other every time we leave home, I suppose it will be worth it. And whatever my husband plans to build that requires all these 4'x8' pieces of wood, will probably also assuage my suffering somewhat.

But it still makes me feel old.

So am I the only one? What youthful vows did you make, determined never ever to be that un-cool, and then break a decade or two (or more) later?


Wendy Roberts said...

*hanging head* My name is Wendy and, yes, I drive a minivan. Went from a sporty lil ol mustang to a jeep cherokee but once our number of children got over 3, had to go to the minivan. However, I will _not_ allow a minivan to define who I am! LOL

Sally MacKenzie said...

I actually miss my minivan. We finally got rid of our last minivan--we've had two--a year or so ago. One of the kids had moved out, and it didn't seem like we needed it anymore. But then we were all invited to a wedding and ended up having to take two cars because six people will not fit in a normal car. (Even five people don't fit comfortably in a normal car, especially when four of those five are over six feet tall. Guess who gets stuck in the back, in the middle? Short little 5'8" me.) And I'm wondering how we're going to get the kids--especially youngest kid--to college in the fall.

So embrace your minivan. Throw off the silly prejudices of your youth. (Can I say how I gnashed my teeth when I read you had a minivan as a teen? When I was that age, minivans had yet to be invented--and normal cars seated six.)

As to youthful vows I made? Hmm. I'll have to get back to you on that.

Kristina Cook said...

LOL, the picture at the top of the post totally cracked me up, because that's exactly my car--even the right color. And I LOVE my Odyssey! I feel like I go through stages--always drove the sports car in my youth (I would have DIED before driving an automatic! An automatic is not 'really' driving, I used to say!). Then in my 20's, it was a small SUV. We did a lot of roadtrips with that SUV--to Nova Scotia and Price Edward Island, to Montreal, Niagara Falls. It was perfect. But when kid #2 came along, I started begging for a minivan--which I only got last year (just in time for a road trip to North Carolina). I mean, automatic doors, heated seats, XM radio, DVD player for the kids to watch on long trips, extra people able to fit in the car along with those two car's heaven on wheels!

That said, if I ever were to get one of those legendary six-figure advances (yeah, right!), the first thing I'll buy myself is a sports car, just to drive when I'm alone sans kids.

Caroline Linden said...

See?? Minivan makers are trying to convince you you're driving a luxury car! And you're not!

The automatic transmission is making me nuts. Not only do I stomp on the brake as if it's a clutch, I keep putting the thing in neutral at stoplights.

Eventually I'll get used to it. Plus, it's only a three year lease.

Ann Christopher said...

Odyssey owners of the world, UNITE!

Mine's blue. *Sigh*

Are we middle-aged??


Caroline Linden said...

Yes, Ann, we are.

Mine's blue, too. I was too lazy to go take an actual photo of it, so stole one off the web.

Kristina Cook said...

I *wanted* blue (the light, silvery blue) but would have had to wait weeks for it. So I took what they had...silver. Still wish I had blue.

Eve Silver said...

I drove a minivan, a white Chrysler, for years.

My DH hated it. I didn't care.

Now I drive a neon yellow Mazda with smoked out windows and a loud stereo system (in anticipation of son #1 finally getting his license, though he swears he never will).

I think I'm regressing.