When I met Carrie she was driving a 2002 Mitsubishi Diamante. I thought it was a fine car. It had leather interior, a decent stereo, seat warmers, an air system that I still don't understand, and with a V6 it had pretty good get up and go. She purchased this vehicle in 2005, and much to her chagrin it is still parked in our driveway.
Why? I'm a tightwad. As Carrie would say, "Your wallet is tighter than Bruce Jenner's face." In my 36 years I have owned exactly three personal vehicles that were mine. A 1991 Chevrolet Pick-Up that my Dad got me in 1991 when I was 17. The second, a 1995 GMC Van that the band toured in, and then I drove to 350,000 miles. I only got rid of it when I met Carrie. Why?
The windows wouldn't roll down.
There was a hole in the windshield on the passenger side from when a pipe went through it.
The A/C didn't work and the fan wouldn't even come on.
All the seats were ripped out.
It had gas spilled in it so many times that it smelled like the inside of a Texaco.
It leaked oil, transmission fluid, anti-freeze, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and windshield wiper fluid.
The carpet was completely soaked with oil and grease.
All the doors had no handles and you had to use vice grips to open the them, and I only had one set so you had to pass them around.
One wheel had fallen off at a 7-11 so the left side was torn up.
The entire inside of the van was filled with broken glass from various windows and windshields breaking.
Back Porch Mary hit a Mule Deer with it just south of Wichita, so the front end was bashed in.
Carrie would not ride in the van.
I remember one of the first times Carrie came to Austin and we were going to go somewhere. Before this, I drove her in the band's Dodge Sprinter which was funny cause it's like 30 feet long, or I used my buddy's pick-up. For some reason one day we had to go somewhere and the old van we affectionately referred to as "The Psycho-Billy Hellcat" was the only thing available.
Me: We'll just take the old van.
Me: Sure. Runs like a dream. Get in.
Carrie opens the door and whimpers a bit when she sees the broken glass, smells the gas and sees the hole in the windshield.
I fire it up and blue smoke blows out of the tail pipe. It hadn't exactly passed inspection in Texas in a while. We back it out of the driveway and head up the street. Now it was over 100 degrees out that day, and with the windows stuck in the up position, and no A/C, it was pretty rough in there.
We got around the block.
Carrie: Take me back! I'm not riding in here. Ever.
Me: Hey! This is my van. You will hurt her feelings.
Carrie: I don't care! Get me out of here.
I was a bit hurt. Looking back on it now, I am amazed she stuck around after seeing that van. I thought she might be impressed with my ability to maintain a vehicle and get so many miles out of it. Turns out this was not the case. She kept her promise and never even touched a door vice grip again.
So, I sold it for $750 to a father and son who installed carpet. I saw the son in Home Depot about two weeks after the sale and I thought he found me to shoot me. Turns out the old van was still running. That was a good van. I bet it's still going to this day.
I then bought another 1991 Chevrolet Pick-Up that I drive with pride.
It isn't exactly the color of my first one, but it's pretty sweet.
So, back to the 2002 Mitsubishi Diamante. Carrie has grown to hate it, and it has been a point of great contention in our marriage.When you drive it, it sounds like you are in a wind tunnel. Due to a design flaw the back windows don't seal up at all, and it's loud. On long trips we stuff paper towels into the cracks so that we can hear the radio. The shocks are all going bad on it, so it grinds when you drive it. The ball joints are shot, and I have to admit, it's going downhill. We have been car shopping at least six times in the past two years, and we have even been amazingly close to a new car.
Carrie wanted a Dodge Charger.
We went to the dealership and test drove a black one. I have to admit, it was sweet. It had a V8 Hemi in it, and when you touched the accelerator it took off the line like a drag car. The interior felt like the cockpit of an airplane. The navigation system was awesome. The chrome wheels and leather interior were cool too. We had given them the keys to the Diamante for the trade. The Charger was washed and parked right up front, ready for us to drive it home. This is where things went wrong.
They wouldn't give me the interest rate I wanted, so we walked. By walk I mean I left, and Carrie followed in a daze. We got back into the Diamante. Carrie could not believe it.
We drove home in silence.
When we got home, some words may or may not have been exchanged. It did not go well for me. I always lose arguments to her, and I never lose arguments to anyone else. I hate losing, but it's best to walk away from an angry woman. Always.
This is how I got out of that deal:
I walk into the bedroom after the smoke had cleared.
Me: You still want to have kids don't you? Do you think that a race car is a practical family vehicle?
The ice melts. The clouds part. I was right. Dodge Chargers with V8 engines and small back seats are not good practical family cars.
So, when we found out we were going to be parents we renewed our vehicle search. We have our beloved dog Tess who would need to ride in it, as well as room for a car seat and all the baby gear.
We looked at cool vehicles like the Chevrolet Traverse. Sweet vehicle. Looks cool, you can haul stuff. Awesome.
Then, Triplet Terror hit, and things changed.
I knew what was coming. I wasn't going to be the one to say it out loud. Not me. I am not a very smart man, but I knew better than to suggest this. I had remembered a time when we were sitting in traffic, and a soccer Mom was next to us in a Chrysler Town and Country.
Carrie: There is no way I'm ever driving a mini van.
Me: I know. They scare me.
We agreed. Mini Vans are uncool.
However, all the triplet people on the forums said the same thing. Sure, other vehicles were suggested, but if you were going to be driving around triplets, there was only one vehicle to use.
The Chrysler Town and Country Mini Van.
According to most of the people with triplets on the internet, this mini van was De Rigueur if you intended on traveling with your trio.
I kept my mouth shut and waited. Then one night she said it first.
Carrie: You know, I have been thinking. We are going to need a Mini Van.
Me:(mock surprise)Really? You think so? I thought you hated those.
Carrie: I do, but it seems to be the only practical way to go.
Carrie is a very smart girl. I knew she would get there. I just wasn't going to be the one to say it. Not for anything.
We went to the same Dodge dealer where we looked at the Charger. This time, we went to the mini van section and looked at the Chrysler Town and Country Mini Van.
They had some new ones with automatic doors, stow and go rear seating, DVD players, and over all, very nice vehicles.
They were still mini vans.
A guy came to help us.
Salesman: Can I help you?
Me: Yes, uh..we would like to look at some mini vans.
Salesman: That's a great choice.
He opened one up and we checked it out. Carrie sat up in the driver's seat.
Me: Hey! You look pretty good there!
Carrie: Shut UP! These are so dumb.
She was right. There is absolutely no way way to look cool in a mini van.
You can add three wheel motion like Ice Cube would do. No dice.
You could add chrome spinners, a lift kit, make the ass drop, tint the windows, put curb feelers on it.
It's still a mini van.
I took my turn behind the driver's seat. Instantly it came into focus for me.
Three car seats strapped inside. Dog behind the driver's seat. Huge triplet stroller somehow wedged in back. Diaper bag with my testicles in it stowed behind the front passenger seat. Sponge Bob Square Pants playing on the DVD system. Me in my black leather jacket with my trucker cap on. People passing by would say:
Look at that poor bastard.
I jumped out.
Me: How much can you do one of these for? We have triplets coming.
Carrie: Is there a discount for that?
We took Tess and went into the dealership. They made a big deal about us, but they couldn't come up with a deal to make this tightwad happy.
So the search for the perfect mini van continues. I really haven't been looking that hard. I know they are out there. Mocking me. Mocking Carrie. Waiting for us. We have no choice and those vans know it.
I figure that it will be nice on date night, when we go out together far in the future after the triplets are born.
I can see it now. Cheerios everywhere. Stains on the seats.
Carrie: What's that smell?
Me: Someone threw up back there. Either a kid or the dog. I didn't have time to clean it up.
Carrie: That's terrible.
Me: Yep. I guess this means you don't want to park somewhere and do it in the backseat.
Me: No...Um Okay. Just checking.
No matter what van we drive or how uncool it is, Carrie and I will be the coolest triplet parents there is, and I will be the luckiest man on earth. Hopefully one day the triplets will understand that Mom and Dad sacrificed being cool so that they could ride around.
Who knows. We could change our mind and go with the Traverse. After all, does practical really count for that much?