One of the neat things about visiting the hills in Arkansas is to go to a place that's normal-- a place where 75% of the cars you see didn't just roll out of the factory in the past 18 months. Earlier this year, I actually saw a Yugo there. Running, as in rolling down the road. Apparently of its own volition. When I was up there a month ago, I got a lot of mud on LouLou the babyshoe, and I haven't washed her since, as I consider I'm driving around Dallas hauling a little bit of Ozark real estate with me as I valet park and go to fancy events. Here's mud in your eye, city slickers!
I have no wish for the auto industry to crash, or anything, but maybe folks need to figure out that just because they want something and it would be really, rilly neat to have, doesn't mean they can afford it. Maybe we can all make do with a lot less. Maybe we all don't need a new car every year.
You may recall me saying an off-roady ride is on my short list of future acquisitions, something designed to crawl around on boulders. The coolest Hummer I've seen was an older one, red, with completely oxidized paint, banged-up as could be, driven by a badass, and crawling around on Bardwell Mountain in east Texas. It's like seeing a wild animal in captivity when I see a Hummer in town, too clean and shiny, with a driver taking pains to drive around speed bumps in parking lots. Wimps.
I have a car-proud uncle. We're talking never-been-farted-in, use-the-floorbards-as-surgical-implement-trays degrees of pristineness. My dad's cars, on the other hand, have always been in tip-top mechanical shape, but he's never been one to constantly preen and polish them. Once a relative said "oh, look! You've already got a scratch over here" about a new truck dad had. Dad said "well, you might as well take a hammer and just put a ding in it as soon as you get it home. It's going to happen." That always stuck with me- that he viewed the vehicle as a means of conveyance, and not as a way that he should be measured as a person, and when I think of it, he's never measured others by their possessions, either.
I want to be like my Dad. I want to take other people at face-value like he does, but I do admit to some certain prejudices. I admit I tend to think more highly of a man who drives a pickup truck than of one who drives a prissy luxury car. I admit I wonder about someone who can't check their own oil and transmission fluid, be they male or female. I admit I like the smell of axle grease. I admit that driving down a muddy ditch in a dune buggy is one of the most fun things I've done in my life, as great spraying swags of muddy water fanned out in the air behind me.
So are you what you drive? You COULD spend the diaper money on a sports car, but is that hot and sexy, to neglect other obligations for a status item? Isn't it actually a terrible thing when we confuse a means of conveyance with indicators of personal character? Why the hell would you want to drive something you couldn't get dirty? Come to that, why would you want to live your entire life in a place where there's no opportunity to get your vehicle dirty? I just can't figure it.