I pulled up to the curb on Maple Ave the other day and a snappy red Mustang with a cream convertible roof pulled in and parked ahead of me.
I knew… I just knew… that the driver would be a middle aged woman.
She sat for a few minutes before getting out to feed the parking meter. It was a beautiful car, deep red, sculpted lines, reminiscent of the sixties and all that they meant.
I smiled for the thrill this car was giving this woman. And I thought about my own purchase of my own snappy royal blue car… my revenge.
Revenge from what? That’s a fair question. A sixties kid who grew into a 70s-80s-90s woman carried all those roles for which I had no model. I’ve balanced careers and kids but never been the person in the family with “the good car.” No. My car has always been the vehicle boardering on falling apart and fallen. I’ve often thought my cars should be just driven off cliffs. They have to be big enough to hold 50 kg of dog food, a month’s worth of groceries, lumber and tools, a paint ladder, photography and computer equipment, desks, tables, chairs, and lots of kids.
Mom’s car is everything… it’s held two car seats jammed into the back seat, with lots of equipment in the trunk and toys on the floor, sandpails that didn’t quite get emptied, banana peels that little ones tossed overboard… you get the picture. Later, mom’s car had to be good enough to be seen in front of the school and big enough to hold one child and eight of his friends when I did the bus run from a dance. It’s been my car that always had to have ‘room for one more’ and never got a wax job and rarely got a fill up. It sure didn’t get any respect. Mom’s car was the family workhorse.
So, it makes perfect sense that a career woman who’s been teetering for years on the balancing act between mom and business person is going to want to chuck it all, open the roof, and let the sun and wind run through her hair. And it makes sense that a woman who’s been lugging kids, toys, car seats, cookie crumbs, groceries and family “junk” would like to have something that holds just about nothing.
So, since it’s hard to buy a one-seater, certainly the ‘coupe’ has attraction. My own revenge car had bucket seats in the front, a sleek two-door design, very uncomfortable seating in the back (for passenger discouragement), and a trunk the size of a purse. I desperately wanted a convertible, but I didn’t know where I’d put my ski rack, so I compromised with an electronic sunroof. CD player. Great speakers. Five speed, short stroke, tight turning radius, sharp brakes. Royal blue. Subtle little racing stripe along the side. Subtle little flame near the dual exhaust.
You know, the revenge of a revenge car is a lovely feeling. It is a reminder that child bearing days are over and I have my body back. It’s confirmation that I won’t have to pick up 12 kids at a dance and drive them all home. It’s the lure that one day I’ll even get to finish my sentences, and my thoughts in the same year. A car can do all that.
Women revenge car buyers tend to be a little more economical than their male counterparts, so what this thing had under the hood I couldn’t tell you. And the price tag wasn’t going to break the bank either, so I didn’t feel too guilty about it.
So there I was, 49 years old, in the bucket and at the wheel and feeling like life couldn’t get any better.
Then I went to fasten my seatbelt.
Do you know that in a two-door car you have to reach to Burlington to even find your seatbelt? I felt every disk in my back pop as I twisted around to look towards Burlington and grunted my way across the front seat to plug the belt into place.
Of course, the revenge woman still has a real life, which occurred during the first grocery shopping trip… where do you put 50 kg of dog food if you still have a dog? It sure didn’t fit in the purse-trunk. Oh, I’ll just pop it in the back seat. Two door car. Back seat. Would somebody please call a tow truck to get me out of here? In fact, getting out of the front seat of a two-door, low slung, snappy little number can be a bit of a challenge, too when you’re revenge-woman age.
And come to think of it, how come there’s no lumbar support in this body hugging, tight little driver’s seat? I just don’t understand why I’m feeling like I’m inside one of those girdles from the 50’s… a little air would be in order here.
Somewhere, between the memory of being 25 and the reality of being twice that age, and the increasing distance between Barrie and Burlington there must be a snappy little car with lots of head room, width, accessibility, peppiness, a decent trunk, room for at least one friend, and opportunity for sentiment. Ah… maybe that’s why they designed the new/old Beetle.