Monday, January 19, 2009


In December, we decided it was time to replace my 1998 tan Buick Century and its 110,000 miles with a different car. The Buick wasn’t a bad car; in fact, it was very reliable because Tom takes meticulous care of our cars. But it was—you know, just time.

It took us awhile, but finally we did something we hadn’t done in 35 years of marriage. We decided to buy a brand new car. I had bought a new Dodge Dart in 1970 after I graduated from college, and Tom had bought a brand new Chevy Impala in 1968 after he came home from Vietnam. But since we were married, we never even looked at new cars, believing that new cars were for rich people or for single people.

With the automobile economy the way it is, we found that this time around, we were able to afford a 2009 silver Toyota Camry. It’s beautiful—a moon roof, a 6-CD player (my old Buick only had a tape deck), leather interior, heated seats, 30+ miles to the gallon. I feel like a millionaire whenever I walk past it parked in the garage.

But therein lies the problem. Notice I said, “whenever I walk past it parked in the garage.”

I am not allowed to drive my new car. Remember when I said that we’re having quite a winter here in Minnesota? Record snowfalls? Record below-zero temperatures? That translates into treacherously icy streets, multiple interstate highway accidents, thousands of around-town fender benders, and some of the worst driving conditions in years.

We got the car on December 29, and it still doesn’t have over 100 miles on it. It is sitting in the garage with the same gas in the tank that the dealer put in before we drove it home. Whenever I want to go somewhere, I always ask Tom, “What car should I take?” crossing my fingers, hoping that he will give me permission to take the new Camry. Instead he says nonchalantly, “Oh, I’m not going anyplace while you’re gone. Take mine.” Sighing, I just pat my Camry lovingly as I pass by it on my way to Tom’s car.

A well-meaning friend said to me, “Just take it out anyway. Who cares what Tom says.” Rebel advice!! Doesn't she know that would be about the time I’d slide through a stop sign and t-bone a garbage truck? I want the next 35 years of marriage to be as divorce free as the first 35 years have been. No, it’s best that I wait for his blessing.

I think Tom is trying to build my character, teaching me delayed gratification. But I do think I’ll go out to the garage this morning and sit in my new car for awhile. I might start it, turn on the heated seats, pop a CD into the slot, look at the garage rafters through the moon roof, and turn the steering wheel a little—and just, well, pretend I’m driving.

Winter can’t last forever; the ice has to melt off the streets sometime. And when it does, I’m backing that little Camry out of the garage, cranking open the moon roof, popping in a U2 CD, and hitting the open road. I might go all the way to Glenwood!


Elaine said...

Honey, you are a millionaire! What a great retirement gift to yourself. It will be spring before you know it. Camrys are great cars; I am on my second, and the fourth Toyota pickup.

Anonymous said...

Make sure you open up the garage door when you start it up for the stationary "test drive"...

bd said...

Aaaaahhhh, I know the syndrome.."saving" something for "later". I say: Life is too short, drive your car! Personally I can't wait until it has the first ding so you can enjoy driving in luxury without a care:-)

2to4aday said...

Update: The temperature is hovering in the high 20s, and I am now driving my car. It has over 100 miles on it, and so far, I've managed not to hit anything or slide into anyone. Keep your fingers crossed.

I am now officially one of those little old ladies driving 25 mph in a 30 mph zone that makes other drivers angry. But now I know why they do it--they're scared of the little old man at home!