What Kind Of Car Is Best For Driving Yourself Crazy

If I wrote a post criticizing the parents at my kid’s new school for driving beat-up cars manufactured during the Bush administration, you would think I was an asshole.  I would think I was an asshole.  Because hating on people for driving shabby cars is shallow and classist and materialistic, right?  I certainly don’t want someone judging me for my Honda mini-van, which has more scratched surface than not-scratched surfaces (I have a depth-perception problem.  Also, I don’t pay attention to fences.)

So why do I think it’s acceptable (even laudable) to form judgments about the parents who drive fancy German cars? (FN 1)   I have done the pick-up / drop-off routine at Sadie’s school four times so far.  I have met wonderfully anxious moms (like a certain Pier-1-phobe I know) who have been warm and open with me.  I had a lovely conversation with a stay-at-home Grandpa about his most recent cancer radiation treatment.  No one has spurned me because of my car.  Actually, it seems that no one has paid any attention to how I get to and from school.

But, when I turn to the street after dropping Sadie off in her classroom, I am blinded by the row of fancy black SUVs.  I search for a car that looks like mine.  I decide that the driver of the car that doesn’t intimidate me will be my new best friend. Nice criteria, huh?  I think Ted Bundy drove a Pinto. (FN2)

Ted Bundy's down-to-earth car (photo credit: http://blog.jimgrey.net/2008/05/30/the-pintomobile/)

Ted Bundy’s down-to-earth car (photo credit: http://blog.jimgrey.net/2008/05/30/the-pintomobile/)

I know this is what I do when I am anxious.  I assume that everyone else is more relaxed, more affluent, cooks better meals (or cooks at all), has better sex, and knows how to redeem a gift certificate. You know, some life fundamentals that have eluded me thus far.

On Wednesday, I was talking to a mom who mentioned that her husband was an attorney.  I froze.  An attorney? I assumed that they must live in blah-blah neighborhood, and she probably has Michelle Obama arms underneath that work-out shirt.  I felt myself clam up from fear of not measuring up.

Even I can see that my reaction was totally insane, on every level, mostly because a) my husband is an attorney too, and b) I am an attorney (though not practicing).  How laughable if someone made similar assumptions about me that I was making about her.

Am I so determined to not to fit in that I have to ignore big facts (that little matter of being the member of a two-attorney household) of my own life?  The better question is why do I have to focus on things like that?

FN 1: Is a Lexus German? Because I am totally talking about Lexus SUVs.  And Mercedes.  And Range Rovers.

FN 2: I have no idea what kind of car Ted Bundy drove. I am scared to Google it because I may get sucked into morbid articles about mass murderers.  Let’s just assume it was a Pinto and move on.

33 thoughts on “What Kind Of Car Is Best For Driving Yourself Crazy

  1. (Lexus is Japanese, but I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.)
    I had this problem a lot in our old neighborhood, which I lovingly called Stepford. All these women walking around during the day in expensive yoga pants or pushing $800 strollers and I thought, “Yeah, must be nice living a life of luxury. Her husband’s probably a doctor.”

    Did I mention my husband’s a doctor? Sure, he’s a resident and makes a piddly salary these days, but still. I feel you on this one.

  2. I’m also married to an attorney and roll my eyes at other attorney’s/doctor’s wives. (Although, I find the doctor’s wives the worst. Did I mention that my best friend is a doctor’s wife and I love her beyond measure?) I live in a twin in the city and drive a beat up, subaru wagon with no air conditioning, 165k miles, a banged up bumper, and it an expired tag. All the cars in the school parking lot are Range Rovers, Porsche SUV’s, Suburbans…my house could fit into their front porches. I tell myself, I’m somehow a better person. But, I’m sure I’m not.

  3. Oh girl, I am FEELING your pain. Let’s just say that my minivan with the dent in the hatch that I oh so not awesomely attempted to cover with a car magnet does not fit it at our school. Or probably anywhere else for that matter, but we are talking about school here, so I need to focus.
    Some of the nicest moms I meet drive fancy cars…then again, so do some of bitchiest! ;)

  4. In the carpool line at my kid’s school, we like to play the “count the luxury SUV game”…Mercedes, Mercedes, Range Rover, Lexus, Lexus, Infinity. I drive a Honda, too, BTW. I feel you.

  5. My daughter nicknamed my Honda minivan “Old Granny” when she was 3. (She’s almost 9 now, so the van is only that much more old and grannyish) Suffice it to say, I am with you!!

  6. The proper action might be to transfer your child to a preschool where most parents drop off on foot. And now I’m off to Google Bundy’s car, and get sucked into nightmare inducing net surfing re: serial killers. As if less sleep is something I need.

  7. OOh, I’m so with you on the lack of depth perception and the instant judgments about the SUV moms, just because I personally loathe SUV’s and have nearly been killed by them countless times while on my bike. That said, I do have an awesome writer friend with a Lexus SUV, so I have to think the bias is purely mine. My suspicion is that the “we’re different” messages will run their course and as you get to know the moms, you won’t see the cars as much. Except for the actual bitches’ cars, because I am unenlightened enough to assume that in street of black SUV’s, there have to be at least one or two actual bitches.

  8. I do the same thing when I meet other professor couples. It comes from my background and experiences in grad school (at a school often nicknamed ‘the Harvard of the North’). My husband and I have working-class roots but our colleagues often came from wealthy, or at least well-off, educated families. They dressed well, smoozed expertly, and were very articulate. My great grandparents were coal miners and my grandparents were lucky to have an elementary education and any jobs at all. My parents did better but started out humbly and certainly don’t have degrees. Needless to say, I feel intimidated at times.

    • I am glad I am not the only one who does this. I just got an email for a mom get together– informal. I always do better when I can relax and have a real connection. I commit to being myself and keeping an open mind.

  9. So if I told you that I drive a big black Chevy Tahoe, would you still like me, like my book, read my blog, and be my friend? And would it help my case any that my husband is NOT an attorney? (My big black monster Tahoe is an ’08, which is when Obama won the election. So can I have that going for me, too?)

  10. You would have hated me if we hadn’t gotten to know each other online before getting into those silly details. See what you might be missing out on??? Or wait, oh my god, do you actually hate me and I don’t know it?? My toned arms are mostly genetic and I use the subway. Please say I’ve redeemed myself.

  11. I love this and love you! So funny and insightful as always! I have the exact same reaction at our school (though Ted Bundy never figured into my musings. Hmmm, my loss.). When I’m anxious I also resort to insane thinking, usually feeling less than and conspicuous in my Honda CRV. And I’d likely feel uncomfortable (read pretentious, spoiled, etc.) driving my German Lexus if we had one. My favorite game is to find ways to lose/lose – you ought to try it some time – fun times!

      • yup…the Range Rover is actually the model, the company name is Land Rover. The German companies are Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and VW. But most of the Mercedes & BMW SUVs are made in the US. Audi is building a plant in Mexico for US vehicles. It is true that many people buy them strictly for the status, but they are extremely nice vehicles. After experiencing something so wonderful, it is tough to downgrade to a ‘regular’ vehicle

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