When Riley was a baby and cried all the time, Mike would say to Dylan, “Let’s go back to the Riley store and get a new Riley.” It was a joke, of course. Most of the time. Depending on how irritating Riley’s crying was, Dylan would either worry that there might actually be a store where parents traded in their children (and where he could possibly end up himself) or he’d laugh and say, “Let’s go.”
A few weeks ago, Mike and I received some bad news. We were told that our eight-year-old Toyota Highlander – the first car we ever bought together – didn’t just need air conditioning fluid, it needed a new air conditioning unit, and it was going to cost at least two thousand dollars. It took us about three seconds to decide to trade her in. (Don’t worry, we wouldn’t be as hasty with the children. Most likely.)
Aside from the financial burden of paying for a new car (we paid off the Toyota years ago), the idea of getting one that better suited our needs was a good one, and it made my shopaholic brain go into overdrive. I spent hours online comparing cars, watching video reviews, and wondering if we should take the – gulp – minivan plunge.
It’s funny that we went car shopping on the weekend of our 10th wedding anniversary. When we got married, we lived in New York City and didn’t even own a car. If we really needed one – for family visits or trips to Ikea in New Jersey – we rented one. When we packed up and moved to Miami in 2004, one of the first things we did was buy a car. I’ll never forget this first car buying experience, partly because it was a big investment for us as a couple, but mostly because no matter how many times I told the sales guy that I was a freelance public relations professional, he insisted on writing “housewife” in the occupation line of our financing application. As you can well imagine, I wanted to murder him. Over this past weekend, while Mike cleaned out the car and got it ready for the trade-in appraisal, he was overcome with nostalgia about our very first car. Not me. All I could think about was that asshole (pardon me) that insisted on labeling me a “housewife.”
This time around, I really thought we were going to end up with a minivan. All of my Mama friends love their minivans. They swear by them. They don’t know how they ever managed without them. I was ready to leap, and even Mike was willing to consider it, but a funny thing happened at the Toyota dealership where we went to check out the best-selling minivan in America. The sales guy totally and completely bombed. He was horrible!
Note to Toyota sales guy: First impressions are everything. If you want me to buy an enormous people hauler, then sell it to me. Know how to configure the seats. Know how to brag about all the cool features. Know the differences between the models. KNOW MORE ABOUT THE CAR THAN I LEARNED FROM WATCHING CAR REVIEWS ON YOUTUBE!
Needless to say, we were underwhelmed, and the lackluster experience propelled us to check out, and subsequently fall in love with, the new Ford Explorer. To my dearest minivan loving friends, I wish you well, but I’m currently the happiest Mama on the planet with our “New Riley.” On the way to school yesterday, Dylan declared “I want to keep this car forever.” Even though he was initially disappointed that we didn’t buy Bumblebee (a yellow Camaro) or a silver car (his color du jour), he said, “Mommy, don’t get rid of this car ever, okay?”
Not to worry, my love. New Riley (and everyone at the Ford dealership) has, in fact, made the most wonderful first impression (unlike misogynistic Toyota dude and idiot Toyota dude.) I’m not going to trade in New Riley for a long time. In fact, if I can keep the orange cracker crumbs from staging a hostile takeover, I have a feeling we’re going to have a marriage that lasts as long as my own.
New Riley (and Dylan)
Sidebar: No Toyota salespeople were harmed in the writing of this blog post. Original Riley, however, took down a sprinkler while taking Lightning McQueen on a spin around the driveway.