Saturday, April 3, 2004

A Van is a Cool Car. Seriously.

A Van is a Cool Car. Seriously.
Marlinee Iverson

I used to drive a cool car: a black Subaru Forrester. When we had child #2, it seemed that the extra 6-8 lbs. suddenly made our cool car into a sardine can. Whenever my folks visited, we ended up taking two cars. Whenever we wanted to add one more person to an outing, someone had to sit in the back (aka: the "penalty box"). Whenever we wanted to buy groceries, we had to strap #1 to the luggage rack. Just kidding.

So one day, I drove over to the local Honda dealership to check out their Odysseys (one of the few vans out there that I thought were tolerable to look at). I told a young salesman that I didn't know if I was ready to sell out and get an uncool van, and he retorted with: "Are you ready for your kids to be safe?" Even though I was miffed at the sales ploy, I decided to take a look anyway. My husband was all over getting a van (as long as it didn't change our monthly car note). I finally agreed to cross over to the land of uncool van owners as long as we did it fast (so I couldn't change my mind) and as long as I could give my Forrester a big goodbye hug. I took a picture of the Forrester, and I left the parking lot with mixed feelings.

Fast forward six months later. I love, L-U-V, love my van. I've sold out so much that I even feel like a cool girl again. (I will admit that there are way cooler ways to travel though.) Before you give me a reality check, take a look at some of my reasons for being a van-lover:

· When your college friends come in town, you can pile them all into the van and take them to a karaoke bar.

· One time, we fit two adults, two kids, two car seats, six dining room chairs, and groceries in it.

· When the baby is crying on a long trip, I can go sit in the spacious back seat and nurse him, change diapers, pick my nose in privacy, etc.

· You are less likely to get pulled over. I swear. I've even been speeding and had a cop wave at me (while I waved back).

· Those huge SUVs no longer threaten my road space. And it's also easier to see around them, and maybe even drive over them.

· We bought ours with a DVD player, which has been a lifesaver on long trips. Adult: "You're not happy back there? Well, here, let's watch Nemo again!" Kid: "Yaaaay!!"

· If our house ever gets destroyed by a tornado again, we have a free place to live.

· I feel safer in it because it's so weighty. Like, I feel like a tank bulldozing through traffic.

· The exterior look of a van grows on you. I swear.

· Every seat looks and feels like it belongs in the first class section of an airplane.

· When my kids start wanting to go places with friends, I can fit 7 kids and me comfortably in it, and possibly 12 kids and me uncomfortably (seat belt law aside).

· The side doors open/close automatically, either from a button on the console or from a button on my key chain, so I don't have to fool with opening/closing doors while dragging squirmy kids into and out of it.

· I don't have to bend over to get the kids out of their car seats. I unlatch #1 and she gets out by herself and I just lift #2 out. Don't hate me because I have it so easy--join the club!

· When it's rainy and cold outside, we go to "van land" and play.

· You can "go to the movies" in the van, with popcorn, dimmed lighting (the windows are tinted), cup holders for each seat, full stereo sound, etc.

· The sound system in the back can be separated from the sound system in front, and back passengers have headphones (i.e., the latest Alison Kraus CD up front and Lion King in the back)

With all the space and creature comforts, it's truly a home away from home (you know, but minus the frig, stove, computer, washer/dryer, couch, beds, bathroom, and all the other stuff that makes your home a home).

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