When toddlers attack

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Five stages of auto shopping

1. Denial and Isolation

We don't need a minivan.  No siree.  Plenty of families exist without a minivan.  My friend's cousin's sister's friend in Berkeley put her twins' carseats in the back of her '69 VW bug and they, her husband and her great dane got along just fine.  In fact, maybe I.. I... I can buy back my old Jeep Wrangler, the one with the canvas top, the one I used to drive around shirtless in, with my scuba gear in back and dog Beau beside me, wearing a red bandana.  Okay, so I never had a Jeep Wrangler or a dog named Beau, but maybe it's not too late.

In fact... Why don't we make do with a little two-seat roadster.  For me.

2. Anger
If you squint, the salesman's head looks like another balloon
Why do they have to make these things so goddamned ugly?  And you, Mister "this is a hot model" Salesperson, do you have to act like a minivan is really an exciting piece of automotive design?  This is L.A., where you are what you drive... and... and... this means that I'm a middle-aged father of two.  Oh.  I am a middle-aged father of two.  That's kind of cool.  Well, at least the father of two part is cool.  I like that.  Oh wait, I'm angry.  Leave me alone.

3. Bargaining
Stop a second... no, stop!  We can work this out.  How about a Prius?  Minivans get rotten mileage, right?  How about a Prius?  A nice Prius station wagon.  Where do we put my mom?  Ummmm... at home?

4. Depression
Nooooooo.... I'm going to get fat.  I'll have to start wearing white socks with sandals.  I'll have to put  one of those stick family decals on the rear window.  Mine will be the only minivan in the gym parking lot.  Did I mention how fat I'm going to get?

5. Acceptance

Okay.  So we bought a somewhat-used Honda Odyssey.  It uses too much gas, it's impossible to park, and yes, it is decidedly un-cool, but there really was no other option now that we're about to become a family of six -- two babies, three adults, and a large flatulent dog. 

The Ford Flex has a sexier exterior, but the interior doesn't work for me -- if we keep the carseats fastened to the second-row captain's chairs, there's no access to the third row of seats, because the captain's chairs fold forward to let you in.  And once I had resigned myself to driving a frump-mobile, it was down to what Consumer Reports had to say -- they rated the Odyssey best in almost every category.  And safety, reliability and convenience trump cool.

 My spinning instructor announced to the class yesterday morning "This is Jason.  He woke up this morning with only half his manhood intact.  He's having twins in June with his husband and they went out last night to buy a minivan."


I'm not the only one grappling with the amazing, testosterone-quashing powers of a minivan.  Check out this 2007 review of the 2008 Chrysler Town and Country by Dan Neil of the L.A. Times:
Why ... do women -- moms -- rebel against minivans, when they are so evidently superior to SUVs and crossovers in function and capacity? Compared with sport-utes, minivans drive better and get better gas mileage. They are safer and easier to park. With their sliding doors and flexible seating, they are more convenient. If females are evolutionarily hard-wired to put their offspring first, why do so many choose a tippy SUV or a barely less impractical crossover? Why is the minivan market cratering?

Apparently, it all goes back to the savanna. According to evolutionary psychology, females' value as potential mates was signaled by their youth (fertility) and sexual availability. A minivan, however, sends out the opposite signal, that the driver is older (old enough to already have offspring) and spoken for -- off the reproductive market, so to speak. In a culture where women spend billions to create the illusion of youth, it's no wonder minivans have been fighting a market headwind.

But what about men? Ah, this is where my analysis gets fascinating (as if the foregoing weren't fascinating enough). Out on the savanna, the reproductively desirable male was older (à la Connery), of higher rank and status within the tribe and commanding more of its wealth. A female's innate programming tends to favor males with the potential to invest in her offspring, to commit resources to the family.

And that is why the 2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited just might be the sexiest vehicle a man could ever drive.
Let me draw a line under that: This 2 1/2 -ton pachyderm, with window shades and the Cartoon Network on Sirius satellite TV, is sexier than a Ferrari. After all, do mate-seeking females really care about two-seat, mid-engine sports cars that go 200 mph? Not in the slightest. If they are heeding their instincts at all, they are looking for a man with patriarchal bearing, one with the means and inclination to raise a family. So the next time you have a blind date, lay off the Sean John "Unforgivable" cologne. Roll up in the Town & Country minivan and just listen to the biological bells go off.
 Actually, Consumer Reports HATED the Town and Country.  And then there's this:

Like many American men, Hector Torres felt a pit of dread in his stomach the first time his wife mentioned the possibility of buying a minivan for their growing family. He wanted an SUV. 
But when Torres analyzed price and fuel efficiency and projected his maintenance costs, he reached the inescapable conclusion that a minivan was the sensible choice.

That was seven years ago. Now, Torres is a minivan convert. He and his wife are still driving their 2005 Honda Odyssey EX around their San Diego neighborhood.
So it's clear.  James Dean would have driven an Odyssey.

If they'd had Odysseys back then.  And if he had been a middle-aged father of two.
Oh well, at least I can still aspire to DILF-dom. 

I make this minivan SMOULDER


  1. Oh you are brave!! I refused and went to a Kia Sorento..as close to a van as I could stomach!! The van will give you loads of space for the kiddos, so it is a good purchase, for a middle aged man :) Enjoy!

  2. You took up spinning? Oh that's great! There are so many things you can do with yarn.

    KIDDING! ;)

  3. Congratulations, you've arrived!
    And now I'll let you sit at the "cool" lunch table with the rest of us.
    Listen, you'll get over that embarrassing feeling quickly and be so happy that you can get in and out of that vehicle with such ease. You know, without bending or stretching. Yes, you're an old man now. But an old man looking hot in his black wife-beater!

  4. Very funny as always!!!! My hubby wants me to update my car when bubba comes to some kind of mini van or SUV but I told him I want no part of a mummy car and prefer a Dual cab truck.........he reckons that's even more embarrassing...........a butch mumma with teenage son, baby and two pugs. LOL!

  5. Hot!
    Many have been at the same door of decision before you and fell just as hard! You'll soon enjoy the comforts it gives you and happily fill up its guzzler tank as you skip the gym on the way to the grocery store to buy formula/milk/bananas and a pint of ice cream to soothe your soul.
    And then, on the way home, you'll see those incredible miracles in the rear view mirror and you'll think....'I am so so so lucky!'

    1. Aww. Lovely!

    2. Very funny post. Though I'm just curious, did the hot salesperson steal the shirt off your back? ;-)

      Congratulations...the Odyssey will probably be great for hauling hardware store supplies during your construction...at least it'll butch it up a bit!!!

  6. This is the funniest blog I've read! The DaddyVan strikes again!!! We too had one, but I'm happy to say that we were able to ditch that ugly thing this past year (our urchins are 8 & almost 10) and David bought a Jeep Rubicon, and I opted for the sleeker, yet more modern than "mommy van" Volvo XC 90. The backseat of my new car is already a wreck. Age makes no difference, apparently, in the condition of ones backseat. Crumbs, sticky stuff, crayons, pencils, blech, it is all back there. But I LOOK COOLER than I did with the old van. And, the kiddos are still safe...

  7. I don't know you but this is great! You should - no, wait - you MUST become a writer! Don't you ever quite writing, Sir!

    1. Wow, thanks! But who are you, kind stranger?