My son ran out of the DMV waving his new license, signaling that we both had something to celebrate: he could now drive himself to school, and I could finally replace my over-driven, under-appreciated SUV, smelling faintly of carpool memories and fossilized chicken nuggets.
After spending weeks on the Internet, looking at automobile safety ratings and reliability scores (as well as a few cat videos to round out my exhaustive research), I was ready to test-drive a new car. On my way to the dealership, I picked up my dad. Newly retired, he didn’t have anything better to do that day, and—not unlike when my sons were younger—I could use “nap time” as an excuse to leave quickly if a salesperson became unbearable.
The lot was packed with “pre-owned” cars—dealership code for “driven like hell”—and within minutes, I spotted a bluish-grey, four-door sedan with tan leather seats. A salesperson lurked nearby, a set of keys dangled tantalizingly from his fingers. I slipped behind the wheel of the dream machine while my dad rode shotgun. Like low-rise skinny jeans, this sweet ride was a bit snug, and better-suited to someone younger, but I didn’t care. It was love at first drive.
As I navigated the side streets near the dealership, the windows open and the wind ready to whip through my hair at any moment, my dad gently suggested that I try driving over 25 mph. I was shocked. Had my sons been right all these years in their claim that I drive slower than my mom? Had I been wrong to assume all this time that people were waving “hello” when instead they were signaling for me to move out of the way?
But it didn’t matter how fast or slow I drove. I had known the car was perfect before I even put the key in the ignition. As soon as we returned from the test drive, I filled out the paperwork, and—like my former good sense and rational thinking—my worn-out SUV was left behind.
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Unfortunately, my heavy-metal romance was short-lived. The match made in heaven turned into the relationship from hell only nine months later, when I started my new business rehabbing houses.
Every time I stopped at the home-improvement store to pick up building materials and tools that I didn’t know how to use but was certain I needed, the guys in orange aprons were as confused as a country band at a rap concert. They couldn’t figure out how they were going to fit two shopping carts crammed with supplies into a one-shopping-cart-sized car.
The other issue was my family. My sons and my boyfriend, all over six feet tall, hated the car more than they hated my pet name for it: “Blueberry.” One sharp turn or sudden stop and their cramped knees would smack the drink holders, sending cups of coffee spraying into their laps. No one could get in or out of the car without bumping his head or dislocating a shoulder. André the Giant would have had more room in a Volkswagen Beetle than my family had to move around in this car.
I didn’t want to admit it, but it was time to end my four-wheel affair and go back to a practical SUV. Goodbye, slick wheels. So long, sexy silhouette. Take care, buttery-soft seats.
Hello, “mom car.” Again.
My rebound car is the sensible pair of flats to my former car’s high heels. It’s the oversized tote to my last car’s petite purse. It’s the car that fits my lifestyle, which, at least for now, doesn’t include chicken nuggets. Thank God.