Car Shame

The Next Family

By: Evie Peck

 

My car is 12 years old this month. Happy Birthday, old car. You’ve been quite reliable and loyal… but now that I’m in my 40’s and a mom AND most of my friends have fairly new and much nicer cars and everywhere I go, every class I take with Spenser I notice all these nice, newer cars. Of course, I first just assume their husbands bought them these nice cars, but it’s not always true – it’s just my way of making myself feel a little better about myself.

I’m self conscious when I valet or drive someone or have someone help me to my car. “It’s not usually such a mess,” I say. But it actually is. I’m self conscious in the parking lot of our kids’ gym or when I leave swimming lessons, parked behind a new Mercedes SUV.

I’ve never cared about what kind of car I drove. I never used to view it as a status symbol or measure of my success. And I’ve never cared what kind of car other people drove. I guess, as I got older, I was curious to see what kind of car my dates drove – but it wasn’t that big of a deal; you fall in love with a person, not their car. The first time I was ever impressed with my date’s car, it was a convertible Porsche and the guy was the biggest jerk in town – at dinner, he told me I ate a lot (I ate the same amount as him) and he said, “You are an actress right? So cry. Right now, cry.” When I wouldn’t cry at the dinner table, he told me I wasn’t a real actress. So whatever with the Porsche.

crying
After twelve years, a car can start to look it’s age. After you have a toddler in the car for a while, the inside can be a disaster; socks, toys, books, empty sippy cups, sand toys, Joe’s O’s, cracker crumbs and spilled milk, juice and pureed fruit on the cloth interior. Not to mention the front seat which has tons of CDs (car’s too old to have an MP3 hook up,) sweaters, coats, shoes (his and mine,) my drinks, bags, papers, flyers, Bed Bath and Beyond coupons and general messiness.
The trunk. I can’t even describe it, because I don’t understand it. I go through it to clean it out every few weeks, leaving towels, umbrellas, sand toys, changes of clothes and extra diapers and my reusable market bags. But somehow, the trunk still seems stuffed. It still seems like a huge mess.
Aside from not being able to afford a new car, I feel like I shouldn’t get one until I can really keep mine clean.
What kind of car would I get? Of course, I’m assuming that I’m going to make a LOT of money soon (I’m not sure how) but if I could choose any car, what would I get? I don’t know. I don’t really care about cars, but I don’t want my son to be embarrassed of me and my car – but I don’t want him thinking about material objects as status either. I just don’t want him to feel like I’m not doing as well because I’m a mom solo.
A few years ago, when Hybrids were first all the rage, I noticed that the wealthy and struggling alike were driving the Prius (at least here in LA.) Going green was far more important than being fancy. That was my solution – get a Prius and no one would be able to guess my means. But now, there are so many Hybrid options and it seems people have mellowed on the Prius and all…

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