ode to a minivan

“She drives a minivan?” a friend’s roommate asked her in horror. The speaker was a hunky, stylish, tight-pant wearing South African bloke new to LA, who straightened in his hair and went on all-almond diets. “But… but… how does she put out a vibe?”

My friend laughed—apparently, I was not there—and said, “I guess she doesn’t?”

There’s something about driving a minivan that makes it hard to put out a “vibe,” which, as I understand it, is the ability to seem cooler than you really are. I’m really not so cool, as it turns out. The thing about driving such a, ehm, non-traditional car, is that you quickly figure out the people who care (or pretend not to care) about the kind of vibe your car puts out, and those who don’t really notice. I was for awhile the girl who trundled everywhere in a minivan—no matter how edgy the destination or how suave I wanted to be rolling up to such destination—and really, that’s just funny. It forced me to have a sense of humor about the peculiar things we attach meaning to, to maintain an ironic distance between myself and my car (a distance that seems to be lost sometimes in this city).

Driving a brand-new white 2010 Honda Civic is less humorous than it is normal. I mean, it’s normal and it’s also awesome. That I have a car that is my own is fantastic and reveals just how very lucky and loved I am.

But, it’s still different… it’s a different vibe, a different way to cover distance. Now, I join the ranks of my sister and best friend who have twin cars, who dart around in their most young, single-person sort of ways and give out whatever vibe it is that a Honda Civic gives out. (The vibe I hope it it gives is, ‘I’m practical yet peppy, I’m so reliable—I’ll give you a ride, hey hey—and just look how little gas I’m using to get around!’)

It’s raining today, which so stressed me out, I am embarrassed to say, that I refused to drive my pristine white car to the Rose Bowl for a run (think of the mud!). It’s slowed to merely a drizzle, so I ventured out Zeli’s Coffee, where I now sit overlooking the sprawling Vons parking lot. I just gazed out the window and smiled at my vehicle nestled a few rows away. And then a mid-twenties woman climbed into my brand new car and drove away. Turns out, it was not in fact my Civic that this woman had so carelessly taken. Mine’s actually four cars south. See—Mini would never deceive me like that.

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