Monday, October 01, 2012

Get up and go

I married a car lover. Not only does he love classic American-made cars, he comes from a family that owned an auto parts store, the inventory of which was always a complete mystery to me.
I’m definitely missing the “I love cars” gene. To me, a car is just a really expensive appliance on wheels that inhales gas at $4 a gallon. An older car is always one turn of a key away from not running, after which it ends up occupying valuable real estate in your driveway or garage for months. Or years.
If you ask me, any car that’s not being used on a daily basis is no better than a giant hunk of steel that might be better off recycled.
Car enthusiasts are probably shuddering in horror at reading this. Blasphemy! A classic car is a jewel that must be preserved and cherished, they’ll say.
Give me a nice Honda or Toyota, I say. Something with airbags and power steering. And Sirius radio.
Car guys think nothing of buying and selling cars like they’re swapping baseball cards. They see an old car and can’t wait to get elbow deep in grease.
I see an old car, and I think DMV paperwork and smog fees. I know, I have no imagination.
For a long time, we had typical “mom and dad” kind of cars — a minivan and a truck. Then an older Corvette came to live in our garage. She’s cute enough, but hardly practical. You can’t schlep three girls to volleyball practice, 4-H meetings and Girl Scouts in a two-seat convertible.
A few years ago, my husband and father-in-law became infatuated with a 1960s Mustang. They bought it as a “project” car, and soon enough, I was keeping track of four cars in the family. Four registrations, four insurances, four gas tanks to fill. Next, our oldest daughter inherited Grandma’s old Toyota, and then there were five.
Lately, I have been bugging my husband to sell the Mustang. I had to tread carefully. Asking any Huffman to sell any car is a delicate operation. You don’t just come out and say it. You have to work up slowly to the idea. Otherwise, the Huffman will go “Punxsutawney Phil” on you. If he sees you with a “For Sale” sign anywhere near one of his cars, he’ll go underground and it will be a whole year before you can talk to him about it again.
However, it turns out that a friend of a friend of a friend also likes Mustangs, and the two men started talking about buying the car.
After one phone call, my husband brought me his laptop to show me a photo. Look at this 1983 Mustang convertible the guy owns, he said. It has only 64,000 miles on it. We can trade our Mustang for some cash and this Mustang, he said.
Wait, I said. I thought the idea was to get rid of the Mustang.
Yeah, he said. But this is a really good deal, he said, staring at the picture of the car on the monitor.
I knew better than to say anything.
Maybe the new Mustang will have four seats.

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