Monday, November 8, 2010


I’ve got cars on the brain. Generally horses dominate that space, but as you can see from the previous post I’ve had my share of vehicle encounters these days.

Update: After a thorough inspection we opted against buying the F350 described previously. My husband helpfully suggested a new arrangement for hauling my precious hairy cargo around. See above photo.

Ugh. Just say NO to ugly vans.

“I thought you don’t have status issues,” hubby said, a smirk on his face. “That van can easily pull an aluminum horse trailer.”

This is an ongoing joke between us…who has “status” problems. When finances were down and we drove such cream puffs as a 1969 Cadillac (swear it had a hinge in the middle), and tiny Ford Festiva we built ourselves up by saying things like: “It takes a good self image to drive this car; We’re being smart and paying cash; Buying a new car is stupid; Only people with status problems drive a car like that.”

The Van (also known as The Van That Won’t Die: TVTWD) fit nicely into our long pattern of self righteous thrift. It had been sitting for several months when it was bequeathed to us by friends—a freebie! We cleaned out the mold and a dead mouse then invested $600 bucks into the thing—“Good as new.” Sort of. It retained a subtle whine in the engine and a lovely aroma of mildew: Au du Van.

Still, my proudly frugal hubby insisted he loved the van and drove it for a couple years adding several thousand miles to its exhausted engine and an attractive dent in the sliding door. Me? I didn’t want to touch the thing, much less drive it. My self image has been thoroughly humbled by horse power (or lack-there-of), thank you very much.

Its amazing how quickly one can get used to something nice and conveniently forget self righteous smack talk. See lovely red car above. As in the old days when the horse one rode announced a certain status, the horse power under the hood has a mysteriously capacity for enlarging the ego. I found that out when I took our new “ride” on a trip out of town.

A red Dodge Charger with a Hemi is a righteous experience, let me tell you. Or, at the very least, the best sort of therapy. Picture a perfect autumn day with sun toasting the arms through the open sun roof. Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell is blasting over the speakers as I cruise down Interstate 5 about 8—I mean 60— mph. Ah…I may be ordering up a mid life crisis soon.

Speaking of which, Mr. I-Don’t-Have-Status-Issues sported a definite pouty lip when I took Precious for two days. Seemed he’d lost that loving feeling for TVTWD…..hmmm.

Driving the Charger is sort of like riding my horse Eli. Naturally a good mover, I just feel darn good on that horse. Shifting him into a good gallop is a very therapeutic experience and it doesn’t hurt that he’s beautiful. I forget that my horsemanship skills aren’t any fancier on Eli. He might stand in for my ego but all it takes is a ride on Chance to be roughly escorted back to reality: I have A LOT to learn about horses. Riding each horse reveals something to me and in me. I think I need both of them to stay grounded in the truth that I’m not the sum of the “ride” I have on any particular day—horse or car. Which brings me back to the van.

I happened to take TVTWD to the recent Women of Faith Conference. Due to some scheduling conflicts a friend and I found ourselves maneuvering Big City traffic in a cursed dented blimp with nine lives. We pulled up to The Westin in down town Seattle where we booked a room for the night and my heart sank. Valet parking. My friend and I looked across the street and ogled the cherry red Ferrari snugged sleek against a curb. Don’t they have normal, hide-your-head-in-shame parking for owners of ugly vans? I don’t want a valet to see me get out of this van, much less drive it himself. I circled the hotel once, twice. It was valet parking or none at all. Where’s my love Dodge Charger when I need him??

“We’re just two moms in a van,” my friend said upon exiting the vehicle, head high.

The valet grinned, “I love vans. That Ferrari over there can only seat two.”

My friend and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. We listened to the whine of an engine echoing years of childish cargo as the valet drove it out of sight. No Cool award for us this weekend, just four wheels to do a job.

With Eli in training for the next month (my red horsey version of Dodge Charger) I’m enjoying time riding a “van,” my portly pinto, and schooling him with the clicker. My long legs drooping from his sides in an Aussie saddle, I am definitely not looking cool on this horse. But I’m learning a few important things. Hopefully he is, too.

Cranking up the Billy Idol…Righteous.