Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Riding In On A Dinosaur

During a recent visit, my kids asked their sprightly Grammy how old she was. Oh kids, she answered coyly, I rode in on the dinosaurs.

Although I hate to admit that I'm much like my mother-in-law, I immediately realized that she had just unearthed some common ground! I too, ride a dinosaur, everyday!

You see, I drive an un-evolved, oversized and dying species that, in today's economic climate, most certainly seems headed toward extinction. Yes, I'm the owner of an SUV. Scientifically, I believe that my gas-guzzling giant is known as an Expeditonsaurus Rex - the Rex, being short for Really EXpensive to fill up! It has an insatiable appetite for the premium-priced fossil fuel that courses most expeditiously through its enormous bright red frame.

I feel like a real Dodo, doomed with gas prices recently spiking higher than a triceratop's tips and an odometer ticking faster than the national debt clock. Sure I can load up my vehicle with the entire contents of my house, but at this point, I'm convinced that the only place that I can afford to drive it all is straight to Hades!

It seems the higher the petroleum prices peak, the lower my gas mileage gets! I'm thinking of going metric and having my control panel re-calibrated to compute in meters per gallon, because in miles per gallon, it just doesn't add up. My newfangled navigation system could be replaced with an old fashioned abacus. I'd use it to figure out just how much it's really costing me to drive around town - lost - in a desperate search for cheaper gas.

In my big red SUV, I used to feel like I owned the road. Now it just feels like I'm paying for it over and over again, each time I swipe my well-worn credit card at the pump. I remember when it was sheer exhilaration to take that running start toward my running boards and climb high into my comfy Corinthian leather-clad captains chairs. I'd barely notice the strata of fossilized chicken nuggets and other treasures layered in the deep abyss of my cavernous cabin.

I would ride with pride, and perhaps a touch of altitude sickness, so high above the fray. I'd look down my nose at all those other pedestrian drivers well below me in their small sedans, station wagons, but most of all, those diminutive Minivans.

In fact, I believe that the rivalry between the drivers of SUVs and Minivans is akin to the most ruthless rage on the road. It's a riff of almost biblical proportions, fueled with as much competition and animosity as Cain and Abel.

But here's the honest truth; while I may not covet thy neighbor's husband - I have to admit, I'm more than little jealous of her Minivan!

I've learned that you should not be fooled by that "Mini" moniker. Believe me, Minivan owners are living large. Their impressive cup-holder counts notwithstanding, today's Minivans are totally tricked out. I've heard that they've got lazy-susans and seats so foldable that they can shame a La-z-boy. And for those who aren't the least bit lazy, I hear that some Minivans are even equipped with workout rooms and walkout daylight basements.

With Minivans, of course, becoming a superior Soccer Mom and the ability to bake better cookies are features that always come standard.

Yes I want those sleek automatic side doors that swooosh open at the touch of a button. I'm sick of having to pull out a slide rule to work out a complicated physics problem every time I want to pull into a spot at the mall. I'm tired of the dirty looks and hearing the phrase door ding sneered by every car owner forced to park next to me in a lot.

Some people think that a car says a lot about its driver. I think that they also speak for themselves. SUV's are large lumbering loners, while Minivans are friendly and have got spunk! - I swear I heard one yell out, Hey Girlfriend, cute capris! as I walked by.

However, there can be one little drawback to the family Minivan; at some point, your male partner may be forced into the driver's seat.

Now, please don't think I'm a female-chauvinist. I maintain that a man only enhances his masculinity when he's toting a tot in a baby Snugli, when he's picking up puppy poop at the park, or even when he's running out to the market at midnight to bring home some emergency feminine supplies. But when he peels out of the parking lot from behind the wheel of a Minivan - well I've got to be frank here it can make the most manly man look a little bit less macho. I suspect this may be why a concerned Arnold Schwarzenegger drives a Hummer.

Although my friends have heard me proclaim that I'd only drive a Minivan when Hell freezes over, the Ice Age is rapidly approaching and I'm afraid that my dear red dinosaur's days are numbered! If I can find a caveman, I mean buyer, for my SUV, I'm thinking of picking up a new Minivan from a dealer my mother-in-law told me about in Jurassic Park.

So, do any of you Minivan Moms out there have a good chocolate chip cookie recipe to share? I can hardly wait to start baking some for the soccer team!


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