In exchange for a ride to and from the airport, my aunt and uncle said I could use their Toyota Sienna minivan while they were on vacation for two weeks. As you know, I love to mock some minivans, especially the Honda Odyssey/Toyota Sienna, which enjoys a cult following in our new neighborhood. But I nearly broke my water the last time I strapped Charlie into the back of my Neon so I thought I'd see what all the fuss was about.
The first time I put Charlie into his seat in the van I nearly wept with joy. He and I were practically looking at eachother eye to eye. I was able to stand up straight as I fastened the straps instead of the totally unnatural bend-twist-lift-grunt-swear maneuver required in the Neon. I didn't whack his head on the door on the way in, as is our special little tradition.
And then I got into the driver's seat and my head exploded. All this time I've been using my arms to heft myself in and out of my car. I had no idea that the other half lives by simply sliding their bottom across the seat and then swinging their legs in.
This is lux-ur-i-ous.
My mom said "It would have been cheaper for Ryan to send the whole family to the airport on the Super Shuttle."
All along Ryan has been gently steering me back along the path of reason when I start conversations with phrases like "You know, we never really considered a minivan, do you think maybe we should?" or "Charlie stays so cool in his carseat with the independently controlled rear passenger area air conditioning system! He's so much happier!" or "Just take a look at this ad I found on Craigslist, they can see us at 5:30."
"We don't need the extra room." he rationalizes "Let's get something smaller that gets better gas mileage."
Which, OK FINE! Now is a terrible time to trade up to a less efficient car. And it's getting worse every second. And we should all be doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint blah blah blah Al Gore's NEVER BEEN PREGNANT IN TEXAS IN THE SUMMER!
So it seemed all was lost. Ryan's argument had the support of the environmental movement, mine had the Me Generation and the considerable heft of my ever growing body. Ryan was making practical and financial sense, I was begging like Charlie the first time he laid eyes on the train table at Barnes and Noble.
And then a stroke of luck. In our neighborhood, on Ryan's commute home, someone was throwing away a perfectly good lawn mower of exactly the type Ryan has had his eye on. I called him at work to tell him to look out for it. When he pulled into the driveway he told me he was so excited when he saw it he turned down the wrong street. "Let's go get it!" I encouraged brightly "We can use the VAN!"
He folded up the back seats with three quick lever pulls and that baby was OURS.
We couldn't get the handle in because of Charlie's car seat, but Ryan was one proud suburb-dweller as we slowly drove the quarter-mile home with the loot hanging conspicuously out of the back of the van, tailgate in the air like some kind of phallic symbol of triumph.
That sense of pride could never be achieved from fuel efficiency alone.