Monday, November 1, 2010

RIP Odyssey?

When I was little, cars smiled.  This made me happy.  I had no notion of what a "Ford" or a "Chevy" was.  I only cared about anthropomorphizing them.  The world was a picture book, and we drove from page to page. In our Ford. Or was it a Chevy?

No, this is not a picture of the family car.  Just a happy one, smiling at all the cute kids.  Being the Quakers they were, my parents had no interest in 'status' cars.  I think our then-car was a smiler, but I never looked at it, head-on, driving toward me.

Somewhere about 1962? cars started looking angry.

GRRRR!  Wipe that smile off your face!

As a kid I was convinced that manufacturers had done this deliberately...indeed, it's hard to find a straight-on view of an early 60's car.  Hmmm.  Maybe manufacturers decided that since they weren't marketing to kids, their product had better look like it knew how to mix martinis.

Fast forward through adolescence to the Ford Pinto, aka Doc.  It was my first car and as such was memorable.  To the right is the dinner theater version of Doc. The picture makes me think of someone acting the role of Robert De Niro, who's playing a loser who's pretending to be some cool mobster.

The real Doc wasn't shiny, and this pea soup color didn't age well.  Doc had an interesting problem, which will be the subject of the next QUIDDITY QUIZ!

Now to today.

Now THAT'S a car.  We've had our Odyssey since 2000, and for a while, it turned heads because these  were hard to obtain.  (It helps if you say you don't care what color you get.  We got white, the ugliest car color, except for that pea green.)  We've put almost 200k miles on the Odyssey.  It's well-designed, even down to a cool sunglass holder.  It's been barfed in, cried in, prayed in, driven by children (only on private property, you understand).  It's carried bicycles, Christmas trees, and a rescue dog (hence the barf) as well as a Tibetan monk in full regalia.

Two days ago I was on my way to a doctor's appointment.  Once the engine warmed up, the car started making that anxious noise that cars make when you try to drive in neutral.  I considered pulling in for an investigatory latte at a Starbucks, but decided not to. This was a mistake.  The van died five minutes later in traffic, at a red light. "Sounds like the transmission," my husband said when I called him.  "Sounds like the transmission," I told the tow truck guy.  "Transmission," I told our mechanic.  He looked impressed.

We're still waiting to hear the prognosis.  The thing is, I'm not ready to say goodbye.  I know it's a machine. It doesn't have feelings. But...not once in almost 11 years has this car complained.  It's carried us through hail and across national borders. In the same auspicious September a few years ago, it took my son to college and my daughter to her new school for 6th grade.

When I look at the Odyssey head-on, I can't say that it's smiling, but inside, tears and laughter are embedded in the upholstery.  Come on, baby. Get well.

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