Take Me For a Ride

model tWith all the driving folks do at this season I’m thinking a lot about cars. It’s amazing what people can do in a car. Parents in the Roaring 20s went crazy worrying what their kids were doing when they borrowed the Model A for a night out. “Rolling brothels!” one worked-up elder called the cars of those days but cars were always much more than settings for sex. They were wonderfully mobile spaces people could climb into and go just anywhere – provided their tires didn’t blow and their little sewing-machine-sized engines didn’t fail.

But if a car was nice to have then, how much nicer it is now, especially if your car is the much-mocked minivan.

In my book the minivan is the best invention since the blow-dryer, the pencil sharpener, the washing machine even. I bought my first Chrysler/Dodge minivan back when the man with the velvet voice took up residence in the White House. It was bright red, like 90% of his First Lady’s wardrobe. 

nancy reagan

Nancy Reagan was chic all right, but I FELT chic tooling around in my Caravan. And so, seven years later when it died, I traded it in for another one, again made by Chrysler, only white this time.

  • Then, seven years later, I got a green one.
  • Then in seven more years, another red one.
  • And now these 30 years later, I have a van of midnight blue with big wide shoulders and a decidedly masculine feel.

I have loved them all, and done my best to nurse them back to health when any one of them got injured, as this one did, when, in a freak accident, our neighbor’s construction-related porta-potty ended up falling on it.

a plague of porta potties

Yup, in my book, whatever year’s model you have, this seven-seatbelt marvel has all other vehicles beat because of Chrysler’s patented ‘Stow-and-Go’ seats in back, big comfy thrones that, with a touch here and a tug there, sink away under the floorboards, yielding a ballroom of space. Then, another touch-and-tug and up they come again like a band of jolly ghosts bringing mirth to the family table.

I have at various times toted whole dining room tables in there, large and swoony palm trees, and up to eight chairs, both wooden and upholstered. I have practiced both yoga and piano back there, the latter on my portable keyboard.  I have soothed whole pet taxis of white mice alarmed by their visit to the vet. I have even refinished furniture back there, though not with the lung-searing chemicals you’d use for a major strip-job but with sand paper and steel wool merely. And this past summer I filled it with two seven-foot paddleboards while two nine-footers rode on the roof.  

But the chief joy I take in my minivan comes from the peace I feel inside it, a peace that suffuses the whole car so that even behind the wheel I feel held and soothed.

And while I love the model I have now, that doesn’t stop me from imagining the fresh delights that a new model might bring me five or six years hence. Maybe in that van’s roomy back I can set up a ‘The Doctor-is-in’-Style booth for compassionate listening, or – wait, I know! – how about a couple of lanes of bowling for my mice?

In the meantime it will just go on being this family’s faithful friend, in all our comings and goings.

Carrie packing it up to go home




3 thoughts on “Take Me For a Ride

  1. Because they were in such demand that first year, I think I paid a premium price ( over sticker). . Remember David T got a white one too, I still have one too.

  2. I loved all four of my Camaros. Kids used to see me at a stoplight and ask to buy my car. A gas station attendant asked: What’s a lady like you doing in a Camaro? They were gorgeous – had all the right lines. I would still have one, only they are too pricey for me!

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