The Adjustment

It’s been three weeks and three days since we ‘welcomed’ the teal Volvo into our lives. It’s been something of an adjustment, for four of us, anyway.

The thing of it is, I really liked our rusty-untrusty Venture. I liked its sliding doors, its captain seats, its slightly unreliable back-up sensor and I even came to tolerate its less-than-aesthetically-pleasing exterior courtesy of an aha moment I had several years ago.

I was skulking along 17th avenue one day, undoubtedly driving the Gort to school. A black luxury car, most likely the Range Rover I’d silently coveted, passed me going the opposite direction.

I ogled it, lamenting the carrus horribilis that I was driving.  And then I noticed the driver of the fancy car. She didn’t look any happier than I did, in spite of her chic surroundings. That marked the moment I relinquished my nice-car-dreams and embraced my Venture and its roomy interior that allowed all of us to sit at least an arm’s length away from each other.

The way nature intended.

And then, after three years and three months of driving a van, we got a car. The main difference between the two? When I get in the Volvo, I feel like I’m sitting down on the pavement. In fact, I don’t even call it getting in the Volvo, I call it falling into the Volvo.

Whenever I open that driver’s door and fall into the car, I have a flashback to a Will and Grace episode where Karen tries to convince her rival to get shoulder implants. To prove she’s a candidate for such a surgery, Jack tries to run his hands from her neck down her arms, but his hands simply fall away because the woman [supposedly] has no shoulders.

Each time I flop into the Volvo, I’m reminded of Jack’s hands flopping away from some woman’s shoulderless arms.

Aside from the height differential, there’s also the matter of the close quarters. I weep for my Venture’s captain’s seats, for the day when I actually had to turn around to address my children or hand them something in the car. When, during our epic journeys to the heartland, I could semi-walk to the third row.

No longer.

Now the boys are sandwiched in the back like (slightly more attractive and less smelly) sardines and I can practically feel their breath on the back of my neck. The Hen can’t buckle himself into his carseat because he can’t find the ‘receiver’ [for lack of a better word] because it’s buried underneath his younger brother’s carseat and requires adult assistance to unearth for buckling purposes.

And Percy? Well, I used to stand beside my open sliding door and plop him into his seat. Now? I hunch-worm my way into the backseat to buckle him in his middle seat. Or, I hop into the passenger seat and perform a yogic twist in order to restrain the three year old.

The boys have been quick to point out the Volvo’s shortcomings, much to the professor’s chagrin, emphasizing and re-emphasizing the fact that there is no room for any of their grandparents when they come to visit. The Gort asked if I could take him for a bike ride, a week ago. When I declined his request ‘because we can’t put your bike in the car’ he may have shed a forlorn tear or five.

Yes, both older boys’ bikes used to fit in the ‘trunk’ of our Venture.

Sniff. Sniff.

I tried to explain my sentiments to the professor. ‘I just really liked the Venture,’ I shrugged, another tear trickling down my cheek. ‘I know, I liked it too’ he lied attempted to empathize. And I looked at him. The man who had coined the phrase post traumatic minivan disorder was trying to tell me – with a straight face – that he actually liked our minivan?

It was eerily reminiscent of the Gort telling me how ‘fun’ our larch adventure had been, when it was all over and he had a bagful of jelly beans in his lap.

Our friends have had some amusing reactions to our unconventional vehicle choice, too. One friend, upon learning that we were driving a 1997 Volvo, remarked ‘that’s a classic car!’ Another friend offered a parking solution: ‘just call me on my cell phone and I’ll open the back of our minivan and you can drive right in.’

A la Knight Rider.

The professor, attaching a bike contraption to the back of our teal car so I could transport the Gort’s bike to North Glenmore Park earlier this week

October 29, 2012 Post Script: The temperature gauge of our teal-gem only produces temperatures in Celsius. It says -6 and that seems cold, but how cold is it really? How outraged should I be? The Venture would have told me in Fahrenheit; it spoke my language. Also, when stopped you have to apply a good deal of pressure to the brake or the car starts inching forward. This was also a problem in our old, black ’94 Volvo. I may or may not have run into a Buick at a stoplight on Tillotson for this very reason. Luckily there was no damage since I was going all of 3 miles per hour. But still, you don’t want to daydream with your foot on the brake pedal.

November 1, 2012 Post Script: With the acquisition of the teal Volvo, we gave up our tell-tale blue Indiana license plate. We traded distinctiveness in the form of a champagne Venture with orange string and a blue out-of-country license plate for anonymity in the form of a sedan with an Alberta license plate. I’ve driven past countless people I actually know and nobody waved hello the way they would have if I’d been driving the rusty-untrusty Venture.

2 thoughts on “The Adjustment

  1. I understand your sentiments. The warning/advice from a reliable source (i.e., one of my fridge magnets): Number of children should not exceed number of car windows.

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