Speaking of machines… one of the toughest concessions I made due to marriage was choosing automotive practicality over preference. I’ve always been a utility or sports vehicle guy. But there’s nothing remotely sporty about the white, under-powered 1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass I drove with gritted teeth during the halcyon years of married life. The idiot who eventually stole it removed a huge albatross from my pack-animal neck.
Not that the situation improved much afterward. I purchased a parade of practical vehicles over the course of my 23-year marriage, and became especially adept at finding (and fixing) bargains. But it’s hard to be excited when the $3000-under-book deal you made is over a late 1990s white Plymouth van.
I’ve never liked white vehicles. When I was a kid, the only white automobiles on the road were civic or service vehicles. Now in addition to red and black it seems to be a highly popular consumer car color.
I don’t get it.
For the past year or so I’ve been driving son number 1’s 2000 green Ford Ranger pickup, while son #2 has been behind the wheel of my faithful 2004 Ford Taurus wagon. Don’t laugh: this oblong greenish-grey beast may scream “soccer mom car!” but its 24 valve dual-overhead-cam engine left a lot of sporty cars choking on my dust. No one sees that thing coming. Hopefully son #2 isn’t too embarrassed by it, because it’s his now!.
After a year back to being single I was needing something of my own. The pickup is in mostly good shape, but needs some mechanical work. And at some point it has to go back to son #1 once he settles in at the naval base in San Diego.
It’s hard at 53 to indulge your inner teenager without eliciting snickers from those around you. But the hell with it. At this point I required an ego reboot. I found what I wanted; let ’em laugh.
When I first picked up this maroon 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse I had to take it out. Again and again. Lurking inside the house while this little beauty squatted on the driveway failed to serve anyone. Days later I still keep finding excuses to zip around town.
This car may be old, but it was treated very well by its previous owner. And it handles like a dream. Sure, the backseat is nothing more than a glorified second trunk but practicality has different meaning for me now. Good gas mileage, morale boosting and attraction to the opposite sex. Not necessarily in that order.
Crouched in the spacious driver’s compartment, faced with soft-lit controls and surrounded by sweeping swaths of vinyl, you feel like a rocketship pilot. And even with a little 4-banger engine it zoom zoom zooms. It’s always disappointing to return to Earth.
The night after I brought it home, my friend Martin Bishop invited me over. Of course I had to show it off, so Martin, his wife Heidi and son Evan obliged me by traipsing outside to check it out.
Me: there’s my gift to myself!
Evan: what is it?
Martin: well, son, you’re looking at a mid-life crisis!
Leave it to friends to keep you grounded.