I know people love their minivans. I hear about it all the time; from the mom of a trillion kids who has an after school carpool shift, to the adorable family singing about their swagger wagon in those catchy commercials.
I know how convenient and easy they make your life. I mean, they have a freaking vacuum built into them. Heaven, here I come!
Tired of (thinking about) leaving “sorry” notes every time my kids dinged the car doors into somebody else’s car, I timidly said to my husband one night, “I think I’m ready for a minivan.”
I expected him to freak out and talk me out of it on the spot, but much to my chagrin, he nodded and agreed that our decision to have that third child forced us into the “not-cool-car club.”
The next morning, I went about life as usual until I got a call from my husband. “I just signed all the paperwork for you to pick up your new car tomorrow. It’ll be a straight up exchange for our car, just bring the keys!” My jaw dropped. I was the proud owner of a new caaaaar!!! (said in a tv-show type of voice)
My kids were thrilled to pieces about the new family member. They poured over pictures of it online, and I even overheard my oldest daughter telling her friend that “minivans are soooo cool. They’re like real vans, only smaller.”
But, even with all the buzz, I was mortified. I didn’t really want a minivan, did I? I mean, sure, that built in vacuum…(drooling). Alright, twist my arm. I can totally handle it. I don’t care what I drive anyway; that’s never been my thing. I won’t be embarrassed. In fact, I’ll rock my swagger wagon like nobody has ever seen!
But, even after my little pep talk, I felt really nervous driving into the parking lot full of mom-mobiles. I suddenly loved my car for everything it was (even though I’m known to complain about it quite regularly). Why was I giving up a good thing for a bubble on wheels?
My fingers involuntarily gripped the key as I tried to hand it over to the sales guy. I needed an out. I had to stall for time until I thought of an out!
“Can I take it for a test drive first?” I shyly asked, as if nobody every wanted to test drive a car before. The salesperson hopped into shotgun and we drove around the neighborhood — getting lost only once, which is a huge success for me. The sales guy chatted about his kids and something about Disneyland or whatever. I wasn’t listening. I was FREAKING OUT.
And then, it came to me. My garage! This dumb minivan may not fit in my garage! Because my garage is similar to the bat cave. It’s in a tiny alley and you have to make like a 20-point star turn just to get a bike into it, let alone a car.
“So…here’s the thing,” I said confidently, now that I knew my out. “This monstrosity might not fit into my garage. I need to know that if I take it off the lot and it doesn’t fit, I can bring it back no questions asked and get my old car back.”
He raised his eyebrow at me — as most people do when they try to imagine a garage that is built to fend off cars instead of attract them. Maybe also because most people don’t buy a car first and then say it might not work out. “Uh…sure, no problem.”
“GREAT!” My buttcheeks released for the first time that day. “I need to run quick to the grocery store and then I’ll call you when I get home to let you know the verdict.”
“Perfect! I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it once you see how well it does on a grocery trip.”
I drove the minivan off the lot, shielding my face in case anyone I knew happened to be driving next to me. I had no idea how self conscious I could feel in a vehicle. I wasn’t myself. I felt like I could drive like a total crazy woman and nobody would even bat an eye because, hey — she’s in a minivan.
I dug through my purse to find my darkest sunglasses and put my hair up in a way I don’t normally wear it — JUST TO GET THROUGH THE GROCERY STORE PARKING LOT WITHOUT BEING NOTICED. Celebrities everywhere, I felt your pain that afternoon.
I did my shopping and looked around before darting back to the car as inconspicuously as possible. Then, I headed home praying that this new car wouldn’t fit in my garage.
After a good ten minutes of trying to maneuver that thing, I was relieved to find that I couldn’t do it. WHEW! I called my husband — who was out of town and waiting at the airport to fly home — who said, “see if they’ll let you keep it overnight. I’ll try to fit it into the garage in the morning.”
To which, I responded an over-eager “NO, that’s okay. I’m just going to return it now.”
I took it back and, much to the sales guy’s dismay, asked for my old car back. Sometimes all it takes is losing something for a minute to appreciate it even more. A rainbow framed my car and I swear it purred “hello” to me as I got in it to drive home. “I’m sorry, car. I’ll never abandon you again,” I hugged the steering wheel and cried with joy.
My oldest daughter, on the other hand, ran up to her bedroom and cried for a solid hour when I broke the news to her that we were not the owners of a new van, only smaller.