Jimmy Conquers the Matrix

Last night for the first time, due to a complicated array of circumstances that rendered our Jeep Commander unavailable, I had to fit three passengers — my 6’1″ husband, my 14-year-old son who already wears size 12 shoes, and James in his Cadillac of a car seat — into my adorable and trusty Toyota Matrix. This arrangement rendered the Matrix into something of a clown car.

With Jimmy’s car seat installed behind the front passenger seat, any front-seat Matrix passenger must contort into a position ridiculously close to the dashboard. My husband folded himself into something of a fortune cookie, knees to his chest, as Junior filled up the portion of the back seat that wasn’t occupied by James and the giant car seat. I could feel the lanky teenage legs pressed up against the back of my seat as I drove. Quite literally, I had to put my purse in the trunk because there was no room for it in the front of the car. 

We only had to drive a few miles this way, but the experience further reinforced the fact that a minivan is in our near future, although we have written off the Scottish Routan salesman. After several e-mail exchanges, it is clear that he is either blatantly ignoring my requests or that he simply can’t read.

So even if we could get a decent deal out of him on the version of the Routan I want (which has been an experience akin to teaching my dog to talk), my husband and I agree that we don’t want our money to support his anti-American, misogynistic, possibly illiterate self anyhow. We may still end up with a Routan, but we won’t be buying it from that guy.

March Is Looming

It must be the end of the month again, because the Scottish VW salesman is calling me nonstop. It seems to confound him that I am operating on infant time, which means that for every one thing I get accomplished in the real world, there are thirty-seven diaper changes, fifteen games of paddy cake, and ninety-odd hours of feeding/singing/calming/wiping spit-up off various persons and surfaces.

Anyway, it is looking like we may be able to work things out with the Routan salesman, if only he will drop his pretentious European attitude and concede to the satellite radio (or a lower price) already. We should know either way today, and if he fails us we will just head out to another dealership tomorrow, pending the snowstorm they are predicting doesn’t bury us.

Although I am shocked and a little bit devastated that a whole month of my maternity leave has flown by without me even realizing it, I am not going to miss the frigid darkness of February. March means the added sunshine of Daylight Savings Time, however contrived it may be, and hopefully a daffodil or two.

March also means it’s getting to be time for me to mentally prepare to send James off to expand his horizons in day care as I return to work. Right now I am just trying to snuggle him as much as possible before he realizes that there is much more to life than his mama.

“Typical American Woman”

Last Saturday, we went to test drive the Volkswagen Routan. Our salesperson was a disgruntled, heavily accented Scotsman who tried some interesting tactics to sell us the last Routan they had on the lot, a nearly turquoise monstrosity with a hideous interior the color of margarine. (As a bit of background, the one major qualification I have as I succumb to the stigma of driving a minivan is that said minivan must be bad-ass black.) 

Now, the unfortunately-colored Routan was solid and pleasant to drive, but I would have been moved to revulsion by the colors every time I stepped onto my driveway. That, and it didn’t come equipped with a remote starter or XM radio, two of the very minor luxuries that are worth it to me.

The remote starter is a no-brainer for Michigan winters with (or without) an infant, and the XM radio is just plain awesome, especially because my commute is so beautifully short it is easily destroyed by FM radio’s yammering morning DJs and lengthy commercials. With XM radio, I am assured that before I get to the office I will be able to hear a great song or two in whatever genre the day demands.

Our Scottish friend, however, was determined. He dismissed both the remote starter and the XM radio as “stupid.” His argument went something like this: “As far as I’m concerned ya don’t need em. Ya know, just walk outside and start yer car for Chrissake. And the satellite rahdio, come on. Nothin wrong with the regular rahdio. Ya just wanna pay fer yer rahdio, thinkin it’s better. It’s exactly the same as FM; yer just payin fer it. Bloody Americans want to pay fer everything.”

For a car salesman, he certainly wasn’t trying to rack up the add-ons. So we began to talk color. I told him if I was going to buy a Routan I was only going to buy a black one. He asked me for my second choice color; I told him I didn’t have one. He muttered something to the effect of “typical woman,” by which I think he meant “spoiled rotten.”

It made me laugh out loud for the sheer ludicrousness of the statement — as if I were being ungrateful to him for the privilege of taking this monstrosity off his hands on the last day of the month. When we’re talking about me paying upwards of $400 a month for something — anything — I think I should get to pick the color without being degraded. I told him I wouldn’t take the turquoise Routan for $50 a month. He seemed appalled.

Only because I truly did like the Routan did I allow him to search the inventories of other Michigan VW dealers for a black one. And there was exactly that — one black Routan in the entire state. And it was loaded with drop-down DVD players, which I most certainly don’t want for the sheer annoyance of having to mediate the viewing demands of a carload of kids every time we go to the supermarket.

So, it comes down to the fact that if I want a black Routan, I’m going to have to either order one or have one imported from a neighboring state. Our cranky Scot told me I’d have to wait a week to get this process started, as he was going in for surgery and would be unavailable. My suspicious mind thought this may be yet another tactic to push us into buying the white elephant on the lot, but I am too concerned about gathering bad karma to suggest that this was actually the case.

In any event, we have yet to test drive the Toyota Sienna or the Chrysler Town and Country, so we told him we were in no hurry, wished him good luck with his operation, and carried on with our Saturday.

Embracing Suburbia

Ready to Ride

James is ready to ride.

Ever since my son James was born a month ago, I have felt this desperate need to buy a minivan.

When I was pregnant, when James only existed in theory, I felt like I had chosen a great daycare, that our house was clean enough, and that my little Toyota would carry us reliably around town for another hundred thousand miles.

Now that James’s little nine-pound body is in my arms nearly twenty hours a day, nothing seems safe enough. I am second-guessing the competence of the daycare to snuggle and stimulate him enough; to eradicate dust and dander I have washed blankets and upholstery that has gone months (okay, years) without soap; and I have unwaveringly convinced myself that the only vehicle safe enough for James to travel in is a minivan.

So, it’s a toss up between a VW Routan and a Toyota Sienna, and possibly the Chrysler Town & Country (although I am not a fan of its new styling, they have some great deals going on these days). We have plans to do some test drives on Saturday.