A marriage consists of two people for the simple reason that the odds in favor of sanity dramatically increase with the addition of a second brain. When one of the partners is tired and worn the other can be there to relieve tension and stress. When one is anxious and on edge the other can calm and console. And when one (I’ll call him Andrew since that’s his name) is crazy and off his rocker the other can be there to bring logic and judgment into the equation.
Shall I enumerate? Last week I described our beautiful weekend of bliss, ending in a tragic transmission blowout that left us crippled and without our beloved Ford Windstar. It was towed to a local transmission specialist who quickly delivered the expected news that our transmission was not only terminal but in the last stages of rigor mortis.
Our dear little minivan may not be much, it’s a rather Spartan 1996 model that we bought four years ago, one without power windows or locks let alone heated seats, double remote-controlled doors, built-in child seats, a leather interior, “stow-and-go storage” or in-flight movie capabilities, (sigh, do I sound bitter?) but it’s ours darn it and it’s stood by us loyally these past four years.
So when the call came I didn’t hesitate to tell our new best friends at the shop to dig out the adrenaline and defibrillator and resurrect that baby. My next call was to Andrew to relay the unfortunate news and the expected cost which was close to three thousand dollars—and I must say he took it rather well, or rather his answering machine took it rather well. I didn’t give it much more thought.
Later that evening at a family gathering as my siblings and I caught up on each other’s lives we noticed that an epidemic had swept through town, hitting each of our households with dead cars—kind of the mechanical equivalent of the bird flu—each of us had cars out of commission for one reason or another. Noting this my father turned to Andrew and I, as the oldest and presumably the most economically solvent, and suggested that maybe it was time for us to get a new car. You may think that he said this because as a tender parent he was concerned about his children or grandchildren having safe and reliable transportation, that he was concerned about the economic ramifications of replacing a transmission—no, he just likes to spend money. Any money. Lots of money. And if it’s our money, all the better—and if there’s anything he likes second to spending money it’s checking out the latest and coolest toys. Yes, I could see where this conversation was headed and it was stopping right here.
What?! Are you kidding? It may be old, it may be held together with duct tape and superglue (not an exaggeration) it may be expensive to fix—more than the whole car is worth—but it’s certainly cheaper than the replacement cost. This baby has life in her yet, begone ye tempter.
That didn’t stop the two of them from lustfully and longingly whispering about the curves and sex appeal of some of the latest models, most notably that Chrysler Pacifica which somehow manages to be halfway between a van and an SUV—effectively fulfilling none of my needs. I let the two of them dream on, knowing that there was no way on earth their little scheme would ever get past “park” and thought no more of it, until . . .
Tuesday. Eighteen hundred hours. Clouds and light rain with a light breeze from the south. We’re casually sitting down to dinner and about the time the peas went by Andrew happens to mention that he had been thinking some more about cars. What?! He’d taken a little detour on the way home past the Chrysler dealer. What what?! Talked to the dealer about the Pacifica and quickly realized that it was just too small for our little Mongol horde, with enough seats but too little storage room.
Whew! I was starting to panic. But wait, there’s more—
The Pacifica’s too small but it just so happens that they had another car to show him, a brand-new-never-before-driven-fully-loaded gem that I should really consider, a real steal.
Not daring to breath I waited.
Did he mention that it was an amazing deal? Did he mention it was fully loaded? Pause. A brand new Town and Country—the ultimate child-toting machine, the Rolls Royce of minivans, the pinnacle of carpooling luxury, the secret fantasy of Soccer Moms across the nation
Are you insane?
On sale for $22,000—it’s those employee discounts. You know, employee discounts.
Yea, my sister works for Porsche but you don’t see her driving a Boxter do you? Let’s just say the idea was considered for all of three seconds, long enough for me to get the oxygen going again after the initial convulsion. After thirteen years you think you know someone.
Well, to conclude this tragic affair let’s just say over the next few days I found business cards for one Roland “Whiz” Weirziski of the local Chrysler dealership placed in strategic places around the house in the unlikely event I would lose all mental capacity, but that was about as likely as our good friends at B & B Automatic Transmission calling to say I was their one millionth customer and would be treated to a new transmission free of charge.
No, I stood firm and soon the cards disappeared, the car was fixed and sanity returned. I suppose I shouldn’t get too nervous, a man should be able to dream, I should be glad he was looking at cars for me, how sweet is that? I’m sure there are women who would rather have their husbands spending the best years of their mid-life crisis at the Chrysler dealership than other places less well-lit and ventilated but I’m not ready to give up Old Faithful just yet, not for another year or two at least, she’s got another 50,000 miles in her, easy. But if any of you are in the market, there’s a sweet little silver-blue Chrysler Town and Country flaunting herself and I could hook you up for an quick $22,000—I’m holding out for a Porsche.
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