Driving Ms. Wilted Daisy

Dan and I went through the harrowing experience of buying a new car last week. Harrowing because:

a)      I don’t want a new car

b)      I don’t want a new car payment

c)       I don’t care about cars and couldn’t pick my car out of a line up (like in a parking lot)

d)      All of the above

You picked d) didn’t you? My readers tend to be very clever! Nonetheless, Dan and I are the semi-proud owners of a new Subaru Outback. This presents a number of problems. First of all, I’m known for being both an excellent driver and a “gentle grazer.” That is, I occasionally hit, scrape or sideswipe parked cars, Metro buses, fire hydrants, etc. While I never set out to develop this skill, it has come along quite nicely, and when I’m driving my old beat-up Camry it’s not a big deal if I gently graze a pole that jumped out at me in the middle of a garage. It happens. With a new car, though, I suddenly have to care again.

Second, buying a new car made me feel old. In addition to getting used to a GPS system and having a TV screen in my face on the dashboard (I know, it’s not for watching TV, but still), I now have a back-up camera to contend with. Yes, when I put the car in reverse a camera pops up on my TV screen and shows me the pole that just jumped out at me. Not only that, there are green lines and red lines to show me how close I am to the pole. This will help with the gentle graze situation only if I can watch TV instead of look over my shoulder while backing up like I’ve been doing for 33 years. I guess this is where my addiction to reality TV might actually be useful.

So there’s all that stuff, and then there’s the parking brake. The parking brake is electronic. Rather than stomping my foot on the big old extra pedal when I park on a hill, I now have to study how to use an electronic parking brake. The sales guy spent a good 8 minutes explaining how to use that brake, but I was daydreaming because I didn’t realize he was talking about a feature I use. Anyway, the whole thing seemed pretty silly until I parked on a steep hill yesterday and stared at the piece of equipment that now purports to be my parking brake. Bah.

The car selection itself was partially based on the fact that we are getting old and I have back problems and lowering myself into a regular old car has become increasingly perilous. Dan has knee issues that also demand a higher car. Demand. I’m not even kidding.

Third, I never pay a bit of attention to car commercials or dealerships or what kind of car other people have unless I am in the process of buying a car. It has quickly come to my attention that a Subaru Outback is portrayed as an “active lifestyle” car. In all the commercials, Subaru drivers are doing something called “off-roading” and driving into nature and wearing sports gear and stuff. I myself have a healthy respect for staying on paved, publicly maintained roadways, and just because my car is outside it doesn’t mean that I want to be. I am adept at moving quickly from inside my car to my indoor destination, greatly minimizing the time I spend out in the elements. And by elements I mean anything that isn’t inside. But with my new Outback and probably a dog, I may soon be living this woman’s life. Help.

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So even though I will never use it, we now have to buy a kayak and tie it to the roof of the car, to look as if we are Subaru-worthy. We may even need skis and snowboards to keep up the ruse.

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Last, but not least, is the color of the new car. I try to avoid the stereotype of women buying cars because the color is pretty or the vanity mirror has lighting that shaves 15 years off the age you are already in denial about. So I really didn’t want to care that the only car with the right features, at the right price, was a color called Tungsten. As it turns out, Tungsten is a beigey, taupey, light brownish sort of color, or as Dan noted admiringly “Awesome! It’s dirt colored!”

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If you see me on the road, be sure to honk and wave, but only from behind where I can watch you on television. And if it looks like I’m parking on a hill…steer clear.

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20 Responses to Driving Ms. Wilted Daisy

  1. Pam Waits says:

    I want the car with the lighted mirror that shaves 15 years off my age. I didn’t know they existed – where do I get one? Right now I’m relegated to making my husband color the gray out of his beard so I look younger.

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      The key to the age-shaving mirror is that it is dimly lit and only picks up things like the sparkle in my brown/hazel/greenish eyes. Not that I’ve given it a lot of thought. As to the husband, let him keep his gray and just start calling him daddy in public.

  2. filbio says:

    I have not owned a car since 1998 when I moved to Manhattan, Don’t miss it and don’t want one.

    Good thing I don’t have to drive near the “gentle grazer”!

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      I would much prefer not to own a car at all, but we really have no choice b/c we live in the ‘burbs. Even if we lived in DC it would not be as easy to get around without a car as it was when I lived in Manhattan (and became aggressive).

  3. Sandi says:

    And you can say “whoop di doo for my Subaru” like Ruth Gordon used to in the old commercials. My first car was a Subaru and we had very good luck with it. Enjoy!

  4. Julie says:

    I thought we went over that “t.v. screen” stuff when I rented that behemoth of a vehicle to come to your anniversary party. Remember, I said it’s a total distraction and I had to force myself to NOT look at it when backing up. I don’t get the point of it! It probably causes more accidents than it supposedly prevents.

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      Oh Julie, I should have learned 30+ years ago to take in all of your sage advice and pearls of wisdom, but, uh, well, I didn’t. Right you are! I don’t plan on using the camera too much…

  5. Myrna Rubenstein says:

    Drive it in good health! My five-year-old CRV is good for my icky back and I like sitting higher than when I drive Mort’s Civic. Don’t worry about the car body. Someone will ding your door in a parking lot in no time or you will ding a car part while trying to park near in pillar in a parking garage. Just be safe and enjoy. BTW, did you learn how to sync your cell phone with the car? And I just had to consult my owner’s manual to figure out how to set my car clock back an hour. But the newer cars do that automatically. Lucky you!

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      Our first attempts at synching the phones were not successful. Dan has invented some new curse words, however. I think this is going to be a project for this weekend…

  6. Abbe says:

    I actually backed out of a mall parking space into the side of a car because I was looking at that rear view screen…and the elderly couple that I backed into were not too happy about it!

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      My point exactly! And I bet the elderly couple is still annoyed that you don’t even have to crank cars up anymore!

  7. betsey says:

    Since the Subaru is “dirt colored”, it’ll always look like you have just been off-roading. Perfect!

  8. katecrimmins says:

    Sounds pretty wonderful. My current car is something by Toyota that I didn’t even know existed until I bought it. I don’t like it because there is no place for a pad of tissues, the cup thingie isn’t the right size for my Starbucks venti and the middle console is too high. Oh yeah, it works great but there are other things……

  9. mimijk says:

    I think this underscores the need for us to keep meeting at the diner – flat surface, wide parking spaces and I’ll help you find your car…:-)

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      You’re on! Will email you. Probably from some newfangled function on my car.

      • Now I’ve allowed my phone to reconnect automagically with the car audio, but had to disable the feature which was reading new emails to me as they came in, without reading the sender name. Also the voice recognition doesn’t understand me; I may need a fling with Siri.

        • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

          I love when you make up new words baby, and Siri better keep her virtual paws off of you or I will wring her virtual neck!

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