Ode to an 8-Year-Old Minivan


Yup, that’s my ride.

Pretty sweet, eh?

Notice the water spots from a recent rain, or as I call it, Nature’s Carwash? See that cute dimple there on the left from a run-in with a post in a too-tight California carport?

The back bumper is full of scars, too. I had the car — only my second brand-new, had it since the odometer read zeros — all of two days before No. 3 crashed into it with his bike, etching an upside down “J” in the silver paint. It’s funny because his name starts with that very letter. Coincidence? I think not.

The “J” pales in comparison to the newest injury: Chunks of paint flaked off the dented back bumper after I was rear ended. In a story that definitely casts doubt on the inherent goodness of people, I stopped for the red light, but the chick behind me did not. She also did the thing that my dad told newly licensed 16-year-old me never to do: admit guilt. “Oh my gosh. Are you OK? I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you!”

We exchanged names, I got her insurance info, filed a report, took the car to get checked out, yada yada yada, but then she proceeded to dodge her insurance company’s calls and emails and even a certified letter. So, the insurance company — USAA, if you’re curious — said too bad, so sad, we’re not liable because we can’t get ahold of our insured. And that was that.

So, I still have a banged-up bumper. And let me just say, the interior pretty well matches the exterior.

A sheet of perpetual dust coats the dashboard. There’s so much wispy white dog hair from my super cute but super shed-y pooch blanketing the floor mats that it looks like a cotton candy machine exploded. Granola bar wrappers are crammed into all the cup holders. But even I have my limits, and I did clean off the roof the dark, sticky remnants of what looked to have been an exploded soda.

I just found a remote control for a fan in the trunk. Are you missing one, by chance, because it’s not ours. It’s also not the coolest thing I’ve ever unearthed back there: Once I fished out a lava lamp from beneath my reusable grocery bags and another time a wallet — with $20 in it. I thought for sure I’d get a finder’s fee, or at least a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ after returning it to the 12-year-old owner, but nope.

My 2010 minivan has seen 130,000 miles of action. It’s criss-crossed town for soccer and basketball tournaments and birthday parties — once all three on a single Saturday, which resulted in 100 in-town miles. It’s rolled across Interstate 10 to hit Ikea and the Restoration Hardware outlet. It’s gotten a parking ticket in San Diego and even dropped a kid off at college in California.

Silver Surfer or Crystal — the names suggested by the kids that never stuck — is on a third timing belt and just had a $270 repair to install a new motor for the driver’s side door locks and window. It’ll easily go another 130,000 miles. My husband says no way. Next year’s capital budget, he insists, must include a new car.

When he broke the news, I reacted like a kid when tasked with cleaning a bedroom.

“Whyyyyyyyyyyyy? It’s fiiiiiiiine!”

Not according to Mr. Consumer Reports. He says it’s a terrible idea for us both to have aging cars. Oh yeah? What about our kids with two similarly aging parents, huh? Do I need a younger model husband? Hmmmmm?

It’s weird feeling so overly protective about a car I never wanted. I guess it’s just grown on me.

The kids at least are having a blast pointing out vehicles they see in commercials and on the street.

“Oh, what about THAT one!”

“Um, no. That’s a Tesla.”

“What color minivan will we get next?” No. 2 asked at dinner one night.

“Your mom doesn’t need a minivan anymore.”

“What?” I asked, shocked.

I remember how sad I was when we realized a minivan was unavoidable. Now, I can’t picture driving anything else. And honestly, I guess I just don’t see much point in paying too much attention to what I drive since any vehicle is going to be treated like a Dumpster with wheels.

So, did I just write what was essentially the most elaborate Craig’s List posting ever? Maybe. But serious offers only — I really like that ol’ reliable beast.

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