I seem to spend more than my fair share around this house screwing around with cars. Much like the Annual Pruning of the Rose Bushes (which I didn’t do this year yet — probably too late now), I consider wrenching on cars to be as therapeutic as working in the garden. I was also going to add that it’s cheaper than seeing a shrink, but given the cost of some of the repairs we’ve underwritten in the last few years, that point is debatable.
I might insert an additional observation now, dating back to my youth. When I was a kid, I think that few things were less appealing to me than being made to work in the yard. I absolutely, positively could not stand it. There was no worse waste of time than mowing the grass, pruning the bushes, and — especially — pulling weeds. After all, pulling weeds was so pointless, because they always reappeared.
It’s funny how things change as you grow older.
These days if you presented me with a list of activities with which to spend my time, doing yard work absolutely, positively climbs close to the top. I enjoy it that much now. Being outside and seeing things grow (or killing them, as the case may be — weeds) makes me feel good. While gardening, I don’t worry about what troubles me, and I can simply focus on the next task at hand. I also have a tendency to exhaust myself, so a side benefit usually includes the increasingly rare occurence (for me) of sleeping through the night.
What could be better?
Working on cars.
Both gardening and spending time under the hood are very similar pursuits because I can usually see the fruits of my labor when I’m done. Honestly, that’s not always a positive thing because sometimes I make things worse and not better, but there is a certain linear flow to whatever I do that makes a weird kind of sense to me, whether I’m ultimately successful or not.
So I have devoted a fair number of hours lately to bringing Daughter’s mode of transport back up to snuff, and it’s nearly there. I still have to finish up a few details only I will notice before I consider it done. But an opportunity came up yesterday to make a two-hour drive to the north to retrieve some vital spare parts for my “other” project — my Alfa Romeo. And best of all the price was right for the spares — they were free.
Since Daughter still maintains short-term possession of my truck for the balance of the semester at her Lesbian Cult School, I had to borrow the Wife’s minivan (pictured above) to make the parts run.
Point of Fact: We have a number of friends, acquaintances, and family members who, apparently, wouldn’t be caught dead in a minivan.
I guess to them driving a minivan is the modern equivalent of wearing a huge Scarlet A around your neck. I’ve never understood that point of view. We’ve owned three minivans, and though they all do end up as mobile stale food and trash conveyances, they are also wonderfully efficient haulers of families and their animals.
I suppose the other side of the equation is that driving a minivan essentially labels you as someone who has given up — no more sports cars, or fine wines, or running marathons — something like that. Instead of socializing with your hip friends at the latest “in” nightspot on Saturday nights, you check out a DVD from the library and try, really try, to watch the entire movie before you become too tired and have to go to bed, only to wake up again every two hours as the night wears on.
You know; that kind of thing.
The fact of the matter is, on my drive to the City of Angels and back yesterday, I was probably the fastest vehicle on the road. I had the electric seat warmer going , the sunroof open, music playing, and the cruise control on 80 mph.
All in my minivan. No worries, mon.
You see, even though the minivan is uncool, it’s also almost completely transparent to Police Authorities. The highway patrol is focused on those Porsches and BMWs in the left lane, while I’m cruising along faster than all of them somewhere else.
And to be completely honest, my Wife’s minivan will literally run circles around the “sports car” that I’m fixing up. It’s better built, more comfortable, smells better (at least right now it does), and has about twice the horsepower of the Alfa (and three times the horsepower of my old Beater Miata).
The minivan is the ultimate Q-Ship, if you can wrap your head around the fact that everyone you know is sneering at you for driving it.
Well, I picked up the parts before lunch, stuffed them in the van, and motored back to the south, making even better time than on the trip up. I did it in quiet, safe, and secure comfort.
I do have to confess, however, that I did stop and purchase a foo-foo coffee for the trip. I had some difficulty because it was very hard maneuvering the van in the parking lot to find a space, because the whole place is sized for little BMWs and Porsches — the kinds of cars Soccer Moms and Dads drive when they are not in their minivans. Actually, they probably drive SUVs and not minivans, but that’s a topic for another blog.
As for me, I have lots of practice driving vehicles that potentially challenge my self-esteem. Whether it’s bopping around in Daughter’s VW Cabrio, or taking Dandy Dog to the local dog park in the Wife’s minivan, I’ve reached a point where I pretty much don’t
give a sh care about those kinds of things anymore.
After all, Chevy Chase may not have ended up with Christie Brinkley in Vacation, but he didn’t have to. He already had Beverly D’Angelo.