It’s time for a new car. My 2007 Toyota has over 90,000 miles on it.
Except for the 1969 Plymouth Valiant that my Dad passed down to me in high school, this is the highest mileage car I’ve ever owned. I bought this Toyota brand new, and have religiously serviced it at the dealership each time the maintenance light would glow bright. I’m sure I’ve probably over-paid for some of those service visits, but the car has never once given me a lick of trouble. Better safe than sorry. Or as my mother would have said, it doesn’t owe me anything anymore.
My step-daughter’s car is currently breaking down with increasing regularity. Gorgeous is alarmed at what she’s driving, so it looks like we’ll be giving her the Toyota. This is good. I am looking forward to driving something different.
What I’m not looking forward to is the whole buying process. I hate buying cars. I don’t like the fake chit-chat that car salesmen have¹, and I find the whole practice of forced friendliness to be stressful when I know their goal is to get me to pay as much as they possibly can. I handle these kinds of conversations much better when I need to get a haircut and barbers want to talk about NASCAR. It only lasts 20 minutes, and I can usually get through it with a few “uh-huh, damn straight.”
We’re not completely sure yet, but I think we’ve decided to get a used car. Of course, that only adds to the complexity and mind-game opportunity that I’ll have to endure. Car salesmen are expert at psychological warfare. They’ve seen just about every personality-type there is, and can hone in on your weakness within ten minutes of your arriving on the lot. I wouldn’t dare ask to look under a hood because my ignorance would be immediately revealed. I might as well just show up with a copy of “Tuesdays With Morrie” under my arm and be done with it. Truth be told, all I’m really interested in is how comfortable the front seats are and whether there’s a USB plug for my iPod.
I’ve only ever been in love with one car in my life: The Camaro Berlinetta which was popular in the 1980’s. I fantasized about having that car when I was in college. It was certainly the most realistic fantasy I had back then. But I never got one, and every previous car I’ve owned was pathetically boring: A Plymouth Arrow, a Chevrolet Chevette, a Ford Tempo, and a Ford Taurus.
For a brief period when I lived in central California, I bought a brand-new Ford Ranger pick-up. It was my brief macho period. Of course, if you’re an actual pick-up owner who owns a heavy-duty F-250, Silverado,or Ram and reading this blog right now, you’re undoubtedly snickering. I can transform that snicker into a full-blown belly laugh when I reveal that right after I bought the Ranger, I went out and filled it with CD’s of Mary Chapin Carpenter. I was macho and sort-of country.
I don’t really have fantasies about any specific kind of car anymore. I admire the Camaro still, and I’ve always liked the Mustang. But while those cars look fun, at this point in my life I think I value comfort more than anything else. My current compact Toyota, while unbelievably reliable and wonderful on gas, has absolutely no buffer against road noise. More than anything I would love to have a quiet car with comfortable seating. We’ll be looking at sedans such as the Impala, Avalon, Taurus, Camry, or Altima. Comparatively speaking, I’m thinking of the line in the B-52’s Love Shack song: “I got me a car, it’s as big as a whale.” It might be nice to drive something with a bit of heft.
I have at least another month before I have to face this. We don’t have a firm date, but Gorgeous’s daughter and boyfriend are tentatively scheduled to arrive in January for the handover. So between now and then, and once they have officially confirmed that they indeed want our car, we’ll need to work on getting a replacement. In the interim I’ll practice in the art of insincere banter.
¹ Forgive my gender-writing bias. I realize that there are females who sell cars also, and I’m sure I’ll dislike them every bit as much as I do the men.