Saturday, January 05, 2008

An Evolution in Transportation

This is the story of one woman's fall from grace. Her name is Caprice.

A picture is, as they say, worth a thousand words. I'll try to eke out 750.

First, some history. The first van in this story was a 1990-something Dodge Ram conversion van known as the Kidnapper Van. I don't think it ever served as an accomplice in an actual kidnapping, but it certainly could have. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the Kidnapper Van. However, I did find this incredible stock image (see photo), which doesn't accurately portray the condition of the body of the true Kidnapper Van or its general fear factor. But maybe it gives you an idea.

Perhaps these descriptions will help:
* When Caprice drove the Kidnapper Van, her left foot rested on the gas, while her right foot was somehow poised on the enormous dash, which could have doubled as a wet bar. It was not the most flattering pose, especially in the summer months.
* If she was running late in the morning and didn't have time to feed the kids, she would let them eat in the car. That in itself is no big deal. We all do that. Except that her kids ate cereal. From bowls. With milk. And the bowls weren't always returned promptly to the kitchen.
* On occasion, she would take a handful of my kids to school, which created all kinds of anxiety for both of us. One of us was always running behind, a negligent child would leave a lunchbox behind, blah, blah, blah. On one particular day, my kids piled into the Kidnapper Van and slid across its nasty, nasty interior. Halfway down our block, something broke off, like a cup holder, or a window. My oldest and most smart-alecky reportedly said something like, "This van is a piece of crap," or "What the crap just fell off?" Caprice slammed on the brakes, swiveled around in her captain's seat and bellowed, BELLOWED at my children. "Look, your mom's van is just as crappy as mine! This is a fine van!" She wiped her eyes, put the van in "drive," and sped off. I think that may have been the last time we carpooled.

For months, years even, the Kidnapper Van would spend an equal amount of time in Caprice's driveway and in the parking lot of our favorite mechanic's garage. It was like the van was the pawn in a custody dispute--one week here; one week there; hey, where's my check?

After the Kidnapper Van finally died, and Caprice agreed that she couldn't dig a hole deep enough to bury it, she sighed and decided it was time to buy another car. Our favorite mechanic was able to breathe new life and a new transmission into the Kidnapper Van after he bought it from Caprice. He went on to resell it, and I have since seen it on our city streets, being driven like a four-wheeled ghost by someone who fits it better. He's large and fast-driving, usually leaning forward. Maybe he's a kidnapper. I'm not sure.

Caprice, in the meantime, could have had her pick of any, ANY car in the world. Or, at least, almost any color. Instead, she chose solid white, or what she calls "a blank canvas," and what I call "an absence of color." In either case, it lacked the, say, "personality" that the Kidnapper Van had. Hey, even a bad personality is a personality.

One look at the white van, and I suggested dark red and black flames down the sides. Or maybe "Hot Mama" painted in gothic lettering on the windshield. Instead, the "blank canvas" initially served as a backdrop for cheap daisy magnets that would have looked more appropriate on the bottom of a bathtub. Eventually the sun faded the ink off the daisies (whew!), leaving behind an unfortunate residue that her husband may or may not have noticed yet.

The same woman who for so long resisted the minivan option based on hippie principles has not only caved under suburban pressure and joined our ranks, but she has taken it way too far. (See photo.)

I don't know what to think of this. On the surface, she seems to have evolved in some way, but I find it frightening.

(Look for a future installment on Caprice's new sleep pants. It will be riveting.)