There I was, traveling along the Interstate at a reasonable speed (faster than the posted speed limit but not so fast as to attract the attention of the State Trooper parked just ahead, finishing his Jimmy John’s and responding to his mistress’ latest text), when from behind me came an angry vehicle, obviously in a hurry. I pulled to the right, and was passed by a mini-van. A fucking mini-van.
I have read stories about people who are in love with their automobiles, who go to the extent of attempting love-making with their automobiles. I, however, have an opposite yet equally strong emotion toward the mini-van. Not, mind you, the particular mini-van that passed me on I-65, but all of them, en masse. Have for years.
As I traveled behind Mr. Mini-Van, with whom I was now stuck in traffic, my ire was raised. The thing I immediately noticed was that he didn’t have any bumper stickers.
“Whoa,” I thought, “How will I ever know if he has a wife, two girls, a boy, a dog and a cat, if he doesn’t have stick figure people on his window? How will I know he supports our troops and voted for Mitt Romney in the last presidential election?” Oh. Wait. I do know. I KNOW BECAUSE HE DRIVES A SILVER TOWN AND COUNTRY MINI-VAN. Even though these people have cornered the market on bumper stickers, mini-van drivers don’t really need them. They’re practically redundant.
When I was single, I did a lot of thinking about what kinds of men I would and would not date. Mini-Van Men were at the top of the list of non-datable men, right up there with the unemployed and the clinically depressed. Flirting with me at the stop light, Mr. Honda Odyssey? Puhlease. You could look like George Clooney and be waving $100 bills at me – I’d pass. A. You are probably married and on your way to meet your poor, overworked, unsuspecting wife at a soccer game, or B. If you aren’t married, and you are driving a mini-van, you likely have duct tape and chloroform in the back. Either way, your leering makes you pervy.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, sexy about any person driving a mini-van, which is why I never considered it, even when I had kids and sports equipment to lug around. I opted for an SUV, a very viable alternative to the soul-sucking mini-van. Married or not, kids or not, all of us want to feel a little like Christie Brinkley in the movie Vacation, attractive and a little mysterious to those we pass along the road. Nothing about driving a mini-van says attractive or mysterious. If you’re a woman driving it, it says, “I cleaned up pee-sheets this morning, I’m listening to the Wiggles right now, and I haven’t had an orgasm in 7 years.” If you’re a guy driving, it says, “My wife has stolen my testicles. I wanted a Jeep.”
Perhaps that was why the man who passed me on the Interstate seemed angry. Perhaps it was why he was in such a hurry. Perhaps he was embarrassed to be seen in this vehicle, this vehicle which had stolen his youth, emasculated him, and demolished any dreams he ever had of being a drummer in a heavy-metal band. Or perhaps he was late to pick up his wife for a Michael Buble concert, which, you know, basically means the same thing.
I shouldn’t hate the mini-van, I suppose. I should pity the mini-van. No teenager dreams of buying his first mini-van. It is only the dream of young mothers, and it is purchased (like tract houses and engagement rings) for its square footage and what it symbolizes – “WE ARE A FAMILY NOW! WE NO LONGER HAVE INDEPENDENT PERSONALITIES!” But it doesn’t take long before they all hate the stupid mini-van. It sucks gas and is constantly littered with sucker sticks and year-old french fries. Divorce happens. She wants the house, he wants the lawnmower, but no one wants the mini-van. Even if the marriage works, empty nest happens. They can’t wait to get rid of that damn van and get a convertable, or maybe a motorcycle. And there it sits, at the “Buy Here, Pay Here” car lot, beside a 1989 Buick Regal, with its “Baby On Board” bumper sticker, waiting for some drug dealer to buy it because it’s roomy enough for his pit bulls and a meth lab.
The next time I’m passed by a Ford Windstar, I will try to remember to curb my anger and drum up some pity for the driver. He’s probably headed to Chuck E. Cheese and needs a drink. >