The line of cars behind us (thankfully, blessedly) didn’t honk at Diane sitting on my spoiler. An inch of snow had piled up suddenly and quickly on the streets of Ramsey, New Jersey, and my 1984 Chevy Camaro was having troubles getting up a hill. My best friend was my ballast, sent to weigh down the rear end of the car we’d affectionately named “Light-ass Lucy,” so I could get up the hill and bring Diane home.
I hated that car.
At first, I was in love. I mean, what’s not to love for a Jersey girl and her Camaro? Well, for starters, the starter. It broke down a lot. Then it was the ball bearings or some-such-thing, and various issues with the transmission. Then there was the time I bottomed it out, poking a hole in the oil pan, the result of too much weight (too many kids) and too much speed over a raised manhole cap.
Yet even without my help, it seemed like that car was in the shop every six weeks, and I was driving my mother’s Suburban — or worse, taking the school bus — to high school.
Now my mini-van, on the other hand, there’s a car to love. And it appears that I’m not alone. According to the New York Times, the much maligned mini-van is gaining caché. Soccer moms, unite!
Not that I care. I never minded looking “uncool,” probably because I’d done the cool car thing, and yet it required placing my best friend on the back end so I could get up hills during rush hour traffic.
But mini-van makers are still trying to remove the stigma of driving around a boxy kid-mobile with lollipop sticks affixed to the seats. First there was the (very funny) Swagger Wagon campaign by Toyota that used hip-hop to poke fun at how un-hip mini-vans are. Now it seems that Honda, the makers of my Odyssey, are trying to bring a little romance to the Mommy Mobile with “rose petals spilling out of the sliding doors, chocolate-covered strawberries in a cooler compartment and a fire crackling on the rear-seat video screen,” reports the Times.
Note to self: Ditch the mini-van before my sons are old enough to date and drive. After all, the rear seat folds down and it’s got plenty roomy enough for two back there.
Even Kristen Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan gave up and bought a Swagger Wagon to cart her four children around, even though she had long thought that mini-vans made moms “exchangeable” and “invisible.” Turns out, they also make them happy, what with those sliding doors making it so easy to get kids in and out of the car, seats for the entire starting 6th grade basketball team, and more cup holders than there are passengers.
They’re utilitarian, and they’re great for driving around bunches of kids. I love all 140,000 miles of mine, all the trips it’s taken us on, all the groceries it has hauled, and yes, all the soccer games it’s taken us to.
Turns out, my sons have a special affection for my van, too. When we pulled up to a valet parking area last summer, the attendant asked, “Are there any special features I need to know about your car?” Christopher, then 11, answered for me: “Yeah, it smells!”
Like I said, what’s not to love?
If my mini-van makes me look like a soccer mom, that’s because, well, I am a soccer mom, and I don’t need rose petals or rap to make me feel better about it. Best of all, I don’t need Diane to sit on the back end.
Tell us: What do you think of the hub-bub about mini-vans?