One of the things I hate even more than high school reunions is buying a new car. It’s not that I don’t like cars. I am really quite fond of them. Especially in winter. What I don’t like is the buying process. There is something inherently different about men and women when they go looking at cars in a dealership. You even have to wonder if they are members of the same species.
Husband (reverently caressing cold metal with both hands): “Look at this beauty! 4.0 litre, five speed, Recarro seats, mag wheels, racing suspension, electric moon roof, power mulcher, moog synthesizer, ballistic missile launcher…”
Wife: “It’s red. I hate red.”
This basic lack of communication goes right back to the way men and women look at ‘things’. Amazingly, they can be looking at the same thing and see something entirely different. Men, for instance, will look at a car as if it is something beyond a box with four wheels that moves forward and backward. To them, it is not merely a car. Nope. It is the culmination of adolescent dreams, the elusive mistress of middle age, the Ben Hur of all chariots. Me, I’m more concerned with whether it will get me to the shopping mall and back without falling into a million pieces. Which is why we had this misunderstanding at the dealership last weekend:
Me: “This car has two seats.”
He (enthusiastically checking the interior): “Yes! Aren’t they great?”
Me: “I’m not denying they are very nice seats. Beautiful, in fact. But there are four of us.”
He (looking irritably at the kids): “They’re young. They’ve got legs.”
Kid One: “But Dad…where are we all going to sit when we have to drive someplace?”
He (aghast): Good Gad, you’re not actually expect me to drive this car on the road? The paint might get chipped.”
Then he did what all men have been programmed to do from the beginning of time. He kicked the tire. I’ve often wondered about this practice. And I expect Ben Hur’s wife pondered the very same thing two thousand year ago, when good ole Ben whacked the wheel of that Roman chariot with his leather sandal. Exactly what purpose does this serve?
I’ll never understand it. But as far as I can see, all of this started about forty thousand years ago when Urgh the slightly-brighter-than-normal Neanderthal invented the wheel. Irma, his loyal wife, stood on the sidelines shaking her head, while Urgh enthusiastically painted on racing stripes. “Argh urf org grunt bfff bfff,” she said (loosely translated to, “Oh dinosaur droppings, not another blasted toy. When will this ever end.”) And of course, it hasn’t yet.