Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cars, Jalopies, and Automobiles

You know that party game in which you have to say something true about yourself that forces other people to throw pennies in the pot if they don't share that characteristic? Like "I've never had sex with two people in the same day." Here's something I can say to make others lose their money: I don't care what kind of car I drive. Of course, not only is this statement uninteresting, it isn't strictly true. I want to drive a reliable car that gets decent mileage and has reasonable climate control and a stereo. Nevertheless, all those things being more or less equal, I don't care whether I drive the nicest new BMW or a Chevy Impala. For me, a car is little more than a means to an end.

My older brother has talked for years about wanting to get a Corvette. I get the sense that driving a nice car isn't on Mark's wish list; it's on his need list. He even knows which kind of Corvette he wants. I suppose I feel that way about other things, like mountain bikes and iPods, but I've never come close to having the car-as-a-status-symbol mindset.

If I were to rent a car this weekend, here's how the conversation would go:

Rental Car Guy: Welcome Mister, uh, Bringhurst, what kind of car would you like to drive?

Me: It doesn't matter. The cheapest one that has an air conditioner and stereo.

RCG: Oh surely you have some preference!

Me [Not wanting to offend]: OK, I'm in kind of a party mood. How about a Ford Festiva?

RCG: We don't have any Ford Festivas.

Me: Are you sure? Can you check in the back?

RCG: No, we don't have any Ford Festivas. Perhaps--

Me: How about a Saturn Outlook?

RCG: We have an Outlook, but it's gray.

Me: No, that's too bleak. How about a Ford Focus?

RCG: We lack that.

Me: Then how about a Toyota Echo?

RCG: I'm sorry, sir. We don't have an Echo.

Me: I'm sorry, sir. We don't have an Echo.

RCG: I don't understand.

Me: I don't understand.

RCG: Why are you repeating me?

Me: Why are you repeating me?

RCG: That's not very funny, sir. In fact, it sounds dangerously close to a pun, which is the lowest form of humor.

Me: Why are imaginary car rental guys so humorless?

RCG: I don't know. Frankly, I'm not interested in post-modernism.

Me: OK, then can you point me to a Dodge Dart?

That's about enough of that. I'm pretty sure I have something else to do.

[Special thanks to Steve for providing a few new car puns. Feel free to add your own in comments, and I'll "leverage" them.]