A Minivan to the Heart
Growing old isn't easy. Despite my receding, no, make that disappearing hairline, I feel like I'm still a college kid. Admittedly, having spent so many years in universities collecting useless degrees, I am still not that far removed, but as the day of my 40th birthday grows nearer, and my already arthritic bones grow creakier, the youthful feeling is getting harder to maintain. Now, on top of everything, my wife wants to take away one of the last relics of my youth, my car.
Don't misunderstand, it is not a deliberate campaign to rob me of my pride and joy, she is simply being practical. We can't get into a decent car pool because our other car — a four-door Toyota Camry — doesn't hold enough kids either, so if we trade hers and mine in we can get a minivan. Now I'm all for making life easier and reducing the number of already stressful round-trips to school, but I refuse to succumb to the suburban minivan mania. If we had more children, maybe I'd consider a station wagon, which actually rekindles memories of my youth, but minivans are cultural blights, along with coffee stores on every corner, sports franchises abandoning cities and daytime talk shows, which are threatening civilization as we know it.
You'll have to forgive me for losing perspective on the great scheme of things, but her idea of trading my Mustang for a minivan is akin to Douglas MacArthur giving up his pipe for a Tiparillo, Ernest Hemingway trading his gun for binoculars and Michael Jordan quitting basketball to join the professional bowling tour.
Let me set the record straight: Despite what I've just said, I am not one of those people who loves my car more than life itself. I do not spend every free moment tinkering with my car; in fact, my automotive knowledge is embarrassingly sparse. I know how to release the hood and gas tank, operate the radio, and use the turn signal (albeit not without also turning on the window washers). Still, I can't help but feel that giving up my legacy of driving sports cars, which dates back to the TransAm I drove in high school, is not only an admission of growing old, but of losing my freedom. All right, I didn't have kids when I bought the Mustang, but isn't that the point? Children, joys that they are, still represent a loss of independence that I will not regain (if ever) until 2015.
Besides, what makes it so wonderfully practical to have room for more than my own two kids fighting in the backseat? Why should my quality of life suffer so other fathers' kids can ride in my car? If I wanted to spend my time piloting a big conveyance full of strangers, I'd have become a cruise ship captain. And a carful of youngins ain't the Love Boat.
My car; yes, my car, is a 5-liter, 8-cylinder kingdom. It is Fortress Bard, in which I can play any music as loud as I want, go anywhere I choose and drive as fast as I want (though always within the speed limit, which Einstein defined as the speed of light).
Houses have long ago ceased to be a man's castle and our last refuge there, the bathroom, is under siege, so a line must be drawn in the sand. Mine is at the door of the garage — even it means a few extra trips with the kids.