There’s no good way to say this without betraying maintain my cool exterior, so I’ll get on with it: I own a minivan now. This may perplex regular readers of these paragraphs because I do not have any of the accessories that usually go along with a minivan.
I have no wife.
I have no kids.
I don’t coach anything that requires big bags of equipment to be hauled.
I’m not in a business that requires tools or supplies to be stacked for jobs.
I’m not running an Uber transport.
I’m a 47-year-old single man who bought a minivan by choice.
What’s more, I traded in what could reasonably be described as a cool car, a Dodge Charger, for basically the ultimate dad car.
Here’s the thing: The Charger was cool. It was long, sleek, and black. It reminded me of a combination of two of my favorite shows and movies as a boy.
Those were shows about cars driven by men who drove at unholy speeds, performed wild stunts, and sometimes ended up on the wrong side of the law.
In the nine years,, I owned my charger, I seldom broke 75 and never traveled farther than Ames.
I consented to voluntary computer monitoring by my insurance company via a special beacon in the glovebox that transmitted my driving habits using my smartphone.
That’s a long way from Waylon Jennings crooning my theme song lyrics: “Straightening the curves, flatting the hills, someday the mountain might get them, but the law never will” as I jumped a ravine to escape capture.
I bought a minivan because I’ve passed the point of buying cars that look cool.
I bought the Charger because it looked cool. It was an adolescent fantasy made real by a middle-aged man’s credit rating.
The car was so influenced by pop culture I had a “WKRP in Cincinnati” bumper sticker.
Younger readers will have to Google that. My fellow Gen-Xers and older will nod, smile, and whisper, “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”
My Charger was rear-wheel drive. I thought that was cool when I bought it.
All the car chase movies and TV shows I ever watched included a scene with the driver spinning the rear tires until they smoked, and the vehicle roared out onto the highway.
I never did this for two reasons: First, tires are expensive, and burning rubber is burning money.
Second, my Charger had traction control and anti-lock brakes.
Advancements in car technology prevented me from that stunt.
I loved the Charger despite my inability to live my adolescent outlaw fantasies.
The only thing I didn’t love about the Charger was it was bloody terrible to drive in the winter.
This proved to be a particularly vexing problem as Iowa sometimes has nine months of winter.
The Charger increasingly annoyed me in recent years.
Getting into the Charger required a deeper squat than my arthritic knees would allow.
It snowed a few weeks ago, just enough to be annoying.
My car slipped and slid all over the road like one of the Three Stooges in a room full of banana peels.
Snows of 5 inches or more made it a battle to get the car out of my apartment building’s parking lot.
This was OK when I was a paragraph stacker for the local newspaper.
I could walk back inside, turn on the computer, and work remotely.
Now I’m a schoolteacher. You must be there when school is open.
So, I traded in my beloved, cool Charger for a sleek, black Dodge Grand Caravan.
The Caravan is used but drives like a dream. The automatic sliding doors make it easy for me to load my walker.
The seat is about the same height as my butt, which makes getting into it easy.
It still feels weird to own a vehicle that’s clearly meant for a family.
I feel as if I should get a bag full of soccer balls and throw it in the back with a few softballs and some bats.
Here’s how uncool the minivan is: When I informed my insurance company that I had bought a vehicle that was six years newer than my old one, they dropped my auto rates and increased my life insurance rates.
Some actuary at the company probably said, “Well, he won’t be driving the getaway car, but he’s probably got high blood pressure.”
I’ve had the minivan for a few weeks now. Its advantages outweigh the loss of the pop culture cool of my Charger.
Then I remember: Mr. T drove a van in “The A-Team.” His van was two-tone, dark gray and black separated by a red trip that went from hood to spoiler.
My van is black and I have no interest in paying to repaint it.
So I went online and ordered a new WKRP sticker.
Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
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