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.
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.
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!”
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.