Reflections on the Oh-So-Sexy Minivan

2004_toyota_sienna_passenger-minivan_le-8-passenger_fq_oem_1_500Lately I’ve been thinking about old school transportation. Perhaps because I recently had some service done on my oh-so-sexy Toyota minivan, which lead to new brakes, which lead to the discovery of a leak in the rack and pinion system (I’m not even entirely sure what that is), which in turn lead to a wheel alignment. It was two-and-a-half days of work and the grand total made me gasp. In the midst of the repairs, someone very helpfully pointed out that the amount was as much as a mortgage payment. Well, thanks for that thought—painful, even if it was accurate.

This got me thinking about the lifespan of the oh-so-sexy minivan. While the van won’t be dying anytime soon (it better not after what I just spent!), eventually in the not so distant future I’ll have to replace it. And while I’d love to drive a different kind of mini (i.e., Mini Cooper rather than Toyota Sienna), even I will admit it’s not the most practical car for a single mom with an autistic kid and a large, furry dog. The thought of purchasing an SUV depressed me, and somehow, this caused me to reflect on the oh-so-sexy vehicle of my childhood: the ubiquitous station wagon.

3626829504_8d2cce6640I was raised with two station wagons: an avocado green Ford Country Squire with fake wood trim and a butter yellow Oldsmobile. The Ford Country Squire had dark vinyl seats that scalded bare skin on summer afternoons if one didn’t take proper precautions. The bench seat had handy rows of vertical stitching that served as boundary lines for me and my three siblings after my brother accidentally knocked out my sister’s loose tooth. The “way back” seats faced each other and rarely got used because either kicking or, in my case, vomiting ensued. (Fruit Loops, people. I threw up Fruit Loops.)

This is what our station wagon looked like, circa 1972. Sexy, isn’t it?

The Oldsmobile, purchased when I was in high school, was a big step up. It had velour seats that prevented unintentional butt burns and an already dated eight-track tape player. The “way back” seats faced backwards, which rendered them pretty much useless and guaranteed that I never had to sit in them. We took a four-week camping trip through the Southwest in that vehicle with nothing but Navajo radio and five bargain eight-track tapes to entertain us. One of the eight-tracks was Air Supply. You never forget a detail like that. I was “all out of love” pretty quickly on that trip.

I learned to drive in the old Ford station wagon. For me, parallel parking wasn’t the critical skill. It was three- (or four- or five-) point turns. To this day, I can barely parallel park. But hey, I drive an oh-so-sexy minivan. Does anyone really expect me to?

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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