But the truth is, at 57, I still delight in turning the key in my ’07 Mustang Shelby GT and feeling the thunder as its 4.6-liter V-8 engine explodes into life. I relish pointing it toward what little open road is left in this part of Texas and engaging in occasional immature outbursts of, shall we say, joyful exuberance. I revel in its sounds and its power and its mechanical sensations. And I accept its excesses.
I know that my days as an unrepentant gearhead may be numbered. Sky-high gas prices, global warming, urban sprawl, maybe even the “oil war” in Iraq, are all being piled on cars. Yet despite the growing drumbeat against them, the allegations that they’re melting glaciers and maiming thousands, the claim that we’re choking on them, the fear that they’re our worst national addiction, I love them dearly.
They are my “carma.” And I refuse to go on the national guilt trip about them.
The driver of a Saturn who prays each day it will make it through one more winter, I confess to several moments of blind car lust. My older cousin had a vintage Mustang (shove your ’07 version, Terry) and he and my grandfather fixed it up. I watched them, and knew from the way they touched and talked about it that it was a special thing, and thus it became beautiful.
Down the street from the ferret shelter, a guy is selling a kelly-green hotass of a car that could have rolled right out of a 1940s movie. I don’t know what kind it is; I’m scared to get out and look for fear I might end up writing down the number on the windshield and then we’d be off to the races. But the boxy and the green and the fins and the chrome … Mrowr. It probably sucks gas like a Hoover.
And I once saw a silver vintage Mercedes convertible with a red leather interior, driving slowly down the ‘hood’s main street on a warm autumn day. I wanted to rip the steering wheel out of the driver’s hands and run away with that car. Mostly because I was directly behind him and he was going about 6 miles an hour.
I bring all this up as a preface to saying that Terry is missing the point aggressively and often, talking about how loving our cars is something that shouldn’t be “taken away,” conjuring visions of angry bands of vegan environmentalists ready to break into our suburban garages and steal our precious automotive fluids. For fuck’s sake, Terry, nobody cares if you sleep in your car at night and rub it with baby oil and talk dirty to it. I might think it’s a little weird and sad, but you do whatever your inner spark plug tells you to do.
I simply think it might be nice for those who don’t want to drive not to have to, to be able to take a train or a bus. Ride their bikes to work. Why is it that “giving people more options than sitting on the freeway in bumper-to-bumper thinking about ways to kill themselves and everyone else within honking distance” is interpreted by people like this as “you suck for driving AT ALL, you filthy pig!” It’s like the faux-contrarian South Park Republican act: Oooh, you’re so daring for liking your car, quite the courageous person are you! You can almost feel the five-second pause at the end of each paragraph of this column, during which Terry expects gasps of surprise that he’s so brave, telling all those filthy hippies off and defending the honor of his automobile:
They envelop us in slick metal containers that supposedly say a lot about who we are. My Mustang shouts, “Short skinny guy over 50, seeking validation and maybe a couple of inches of height from a white muscle car with silver skunk stripes.” Baptists and senior citizens, meanwhile, drive Buicks. Republicans prefer two trucks in the driveway: an SUV for Mom to use as a soccer bus and a big $40,000 pickup for Dad’s power trips. Democrats favor anything nerdy in gray or white, and plaster their battered back bumpers with pious political stickers.
Right. Democrats are pussies. Got it. This makes me profoundly tired. Maybe I should go for a drive, see if that green thing is still for sale.
Idiocy via Kos.